18 tips for snowshoeing in Gatineau Park

Taking a snowshoe trip into Gatineau Park? David McMahon of Natural Fitness Labs offers these tips before you blaze your own trail.
Twice this winter showshoers have become lost in Gatineau Park. (CBC)

These Gatineau Park snowshoeing tips were submitted by guest David McMahon of XCZone and Natural Fitness Labs.

MacMahon said the tips were inspired by a group outing he took shortly after speaking with All in a Day guest host Stu Mills about why so many people were becoming lost in Gatineau Park.

Be prepared

  • Tell people where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • Plan that snowshoeing will be twice as difficult as running the same distance.
  • Don’t over-estimate your fitness level for the sport.
  • The further you go from the parking lot, the softer the trail and more work involved.
  • Use a map and compass if you are unfamiliar with the trail.
  • If the trail is closed, it is because there are risks.
  • Bring a small light or a big light at night.
  • Pack one extra layer if you are moving slowly.

Keep oriented

  • First establish (right out of your car) and maintain situational awareness.
  • Make note of what direction you are travelling and the way back to your car.
  • Take note of topography (hills, streams, ponds).
  • Recognize your own footsteps.
  • Learn to read the stars and the sun (hint: they rise in the East and set in the West).
  • The light from city of Ottawa is visible at night from anywhere in the park (it is south).
  • The sound of the city and highway is often heard coming from the south or southeast.
  • Make an arrow in the snow with branches in the direction you are travelling so if you know that you are not going in circles.
  • Going around in the same circles expecting a different result is tiring.
  • If you are lost, stay to a main trail and get to high ground. It is easier to find you. Going cross-country (off-trail) will make it harder to find you.