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.