With the weather network toying at our emotions and throwing around words like “temperature roller coaster” and “active storm track”, Ontarians are starting to get a bit doubtful about the impending weather patterns, predictions, and even promises that winter could still make a comeback. With less than favourable snow conditions this year across Central Canada, it's easy to fall into that negative mentality, where we assume we just skipped winter this year because it’s not right outside of our window (well for many of us, anyways).
There’s no doubt I miss seeing white on the ground here in Southern Ontario, but let’s not forgot one thing: It’s still winter! Perhaps it’s the eternal optimist in me, but combined with predictions that winter could make a potential comeback over the next few weeks, I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that we get another winter redo. We are Canadian after all, and if there is one thing that makes us truly Canadian, it’s our resilience and ability to stick together during tough times.
So, here’s what you need to do to prepare for the big winter comeback:
POSITIVE THINKING: Hit up the water cooler at work, and interrupt those negative-nelly coworkers who are either a) complaining about the lack of snow or worse b) annoyingly sharing how much they hate winter and wish that it will just stay brown, dry and warm until spring.
PROMOTE WINTER: Post pictures of snow, snowmobiles, and snowmen everywhere. The more, the better. Share those annoying memes on Facebook with your friends and coworkers, and tag everyone. It should become your sole mission to make sure everyone around you has not forgotten that it’s still winter.
SNOW DANCE: Do your snow dance! I’m not talking a half-attempt to shake your hips, I mean a full-on, all limbs moving, high-energy, bring-it-on snow dance.
CRANK UP THE TUNES: Listen to songs like “Snow” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and “Snowmobile Song” by Stompin Tom Connors (at full volume, all the time)
PLAN YOUR EXCUSE: Start dropping hints at work that you’ve got a sore throat or think you are coming down with a cold, because regardless of the day, you better be ready to play hooky to go out riding.
PACK NOW: Pack your go bag. If you’ve had a baby, and packed for the hospital then you know what this means: snacks, a hat and mittens, underwear, pyjamas. Boom.
PREPARE: Gas up your sled, make sure you have spare parts and tools ready to go. If you don’t have a sled, then reserve one ahead of time from one of the many companies across Ontario like Back Country Tours (Muskoka and Haliburton).
ACCOMMODATIONS: Set up a place to stay! If you have a cottage, that’s awesome and you should give me a shout. If not, there are lots of great snowmobile-friendly places to stay up north. If you plan on heading to Huntsville, give Hidden Valley Resort Muskoka a try!
After you’ve completed the first 5 steps, it will probably be snowing like mad so you better be ready to rock. If you live in Northern Ontario or near a trail, then you’re golden. If you live a few hours south like me, then follow these steps:
ACTION PLAN: Call or text your buddies. Keep it short and use the code word, head nod, or whatever you decided on to indicate that “it’s time”.
COVER STORY: Call the boss and leave a scratchy voicemail at 2:00am stating that you won’t be in tomorrow, or possibly the next few days. That sore throat caught up with you and now you can’t get out of bed. *Note: don’t post public pictures of your adventure – bosses don’t like that so much.
GO TIME: Grab your go bag and get on the road!! You can’t afford to waste any time!
In preparation for this article, I put my plan to the test. I danced, posted pictures and signs, blasted winter songs, had an unfortunate sore throat, and had that go-bag ready. Although winter wasn’t quite ready for its redo then, I was still able to get away for a mini-vacation to the Huntsville area where trails were open and the northern hospitality was plentiful.
Just a few hours from Toronto, the snowpiles along the side of the road grow in size, as do the evergreen trees and rocky landscape. I always enjoy that drive, and so I try to do it during the daytime if I can. Rolling into the Hidden Valley Resort Muskoka, I was greeted by open ski slopes that were in full swing that weekend.
The inviting entrance to the resort welcomed me in, and friendly staff were eager to share their wisdom about the sights to see in the area. This resort offered me everything I needed during my stay; a beautiful view of Peninsula Lake, a pool and a great restaurant (with fireplace) to indulge in any meal of the day (I highly recommend the short ribs!).
Just up the road a few minutes is Back Country Tours, which offers snowmobile rentals and tours of the area. A line up of new Ski-Doo snowmobiles greeted me when I pulled up, and I could see staff checking over the sleds thoroughly before they opened for the day.
The company offers whatever you need for your epic, up north, snowmobile adventure. Don’t have gear? No worries, they’ve got it! Not familiar with the trail system? No problem – you can set up a guided tour, or take a map and have on-call assistance from staff if you get turned around. I was paired up with Chris, the Australian, for my tour. His passion for snowmobiling (among other things) brought him all the way from Australia to Muskoka (impressive I know!).
A review of the snowmobile operation, safety mechanisms, trail rules and safety was standard before we got on our way. To check trail conditions for your next adventure, visit the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs for their interactive trail map. We toured down trail #77, along the rushing Oxtongue River, before heading through what has been nicknamed the ‘Magical Forest’ along D101B for its tall pine trees lining both sides of the trail.
So now it’s your chance to plan your winter redo. As winter makes a comeback, time is running out to enjoy the remaining days of fresh snow, crisp wintry scenery, and fun winter activities that we Ontarians love so much. So get dancing, posting, planning, and most importantly, riding. Safe travels to you all!