The snow that fell last week has survived a few short thawing periods, so we’re still living in winter wonderland. There’s lots of snow, and lots of ice too. Every morning we have to clear ice from our car, big chunks sometimes. I’m not talking about ice that fell down from the sky but snow blowing around all night, freezing up and sticking to our car windows and windshield wipers.

Canadian winter is quite different from Dutch winter, but we’re loving it!

This is where we live – Torbay

View from our backyard window – Torbay

When checking the weather before going outside, you assume warmer is better, but this week the opposite has been true. We enjoyed a brilliant walk in -13° the other day and today I hiked for 2 hours in -7°, I know that to Dutch ears that kind of sounds like it’s too cold but the winter air is dry and I’m still in my summer jacket, it’s just really nice outside.

Yesterday however, we had +4° and everything was awful. There was lots of snow on the roads and blowing snow too, the car was barely manageable through the 30 cm deep tracks on Torbay Road, steering was very hard and getting up and down steep hills was a real challenge.

That -13° walk the other day took us to Stiles Cove, a small cove just a few kilometers from our home with a pebble beach and steep cliffs with some waterfalls. This time of year, this beautifully scenic cove along the East Coast Trail is frozen solid, the pebble beach is hidden beneath the snow and the waterfalls have turned into cascading strands of ice.

Stiles Cove – Stiles Cove Path

Marije at Stiles Cove – Stiles Cove Path

This was a sight Marije and I had never seen before, something really special. I hope to return there soon with a tripod and lots more time, we only had 15 minutes this time because it was late and the sun was about to set, casting the forest into deep shadows already.

My hike today was on the East Coast Trail near the Ocean Sciences Centre where Marije works. This stretch of trail is very steep and right on the edge of the cliffs in some parts. In most places you can’t even see the trail because of the deep icy snow, so you have to be careful not to loose you footing.

East Coast Trail above the OSC – Sugarloaf Path

The Ocean Sciences Centre – seen from Sugarloaf Path

The surface of the snow has frozen back over after yesterday’s thaw, so you either have to wear snowshoes to stay on top or puncture it with every step and hope it’s still trail you’re walking on and not water or shrubbery. That happened anyway though, a few times I chose a path that appeared to be trail because of the lack of bushes and rocks, after a while it’s rather comical to realize you’re walking on a frozen stream. Luckily these streams are narrow and shallow, and after puncturing the snow I’ve cracked through the ice below it only a few times, always with a broad grin of recognition on my face.

Winter cliffs near the OSC – Logy Bay

The few times I’ve wandered off the trail into the undergrowth were much harder; you can’t see you’re leaving the trail or river, it’s all uniformly white and sparkling, but you know you’ve hit the undergrowth when after puncturing the snow with your boots, you sink down up to your knees in hard snow. Then, the going gets tough: you have to pull up your leg out of the first hole, you can’t put it forward or backwards because the surface of the snow is too hard, you have to raise your leg up high, fling it forward and puncture a new hole to get ahead. It’s very arduous but invigorating, especially when the wind picks up a few icy gusts of cold powder and pelts your face with it as you rest in your boots, ankered up to the knees in a solid plane of ice.

I guess christmas came early for me! 🙂