Friday, March 04, 2005

Choosing the Right Snowshoe for Algonquin Park

With the booming interest in snowshoeing, I often receive questions on what is the right snowshoe for a winter trip to Algonquin Park. This is a tough question for me to answer as our Algonquin Park operation uses different snowshoes for different terrain.

The Log Cabin is all about tradition. And thus, it should come as no surprise that our Algonquin Log Cabin winter trips features traditional wooden snowshoes! We have differerent traditional wooden styles including Huron, Ojibway, Algonquin and Bear Paw.
The Ojibway, Algonquin and Huron models are quite similar – with a wide frame and tail. The raised tip and large frame help in deep snow while the size and width of frame vary depending on the area and the typical snow load. The Huron for example is smaller than the Ojibway as the former traditional area did nit have as much snow as the Ojibway model used further north in Canada. Tail length varies depending on how much lake travel was necessary. Bear Paws do not have tails and are ideal for forest travel. All four of these snowshoes were all used in the Algonquin area for the last 1000 years.

I love all of the traditional snowshoes for times when there is deep snow. In mid winter, we typically have around 1 - 2 metres of snow in the bush around Surprise Lake. I do not sink into the snow while wearing traditional snowshoes. They are superb to walk across to Kitchie Island or down to Moose Bay. Traditional snowshoes are not however ideal for steep climbing and descents. On some of our lookout treks, we find the traditional snowshoe has some trouble gripping on slick snow. Descents can be tons of fun and we use the snowshoes like a toboggan and slide our way down the hill! Here at Voyageur Quest, we have purchased most of our traditional snowshoes locally from the Avery family out of Whitney, Ontario. They make a great snowshoe and can design to your specs. Being traditionalists, they do not have a website or a retail store. Their shop can be found on Paradise Road and I recommend calling ahead at (613) 637- 2825. If you can’t find Avery or want to purchase a traditional snowshoe in your local area, try looking for Faber . They can be found at most local outdoor retailers in Canada.

Over at Kawawaymog Lake, our Algonquin Cottage Outpost features modern aluminum snowshoes. We have an assortment of Tubbs aluminum snowshoes. All of our Tubbs models are really easy to use – right off the bat. The aluminum crampon with sharp teeth makes for incredibly easy trekking up steep hills. Guests of all ages find aluminum snowshoes easy to put on and keep on. For all around general use – they are fantastic. Where the newer aluminum snowshoes are weak is with heavy snow. As they are quite narrow, I find there is considerable sinking when there is fresh snow over one meter.