Groundhog Day or another trip to Arrowhead

On February 2nd, in a true Groundhog Day tradition, we were back on the road heading to Arrowhead Provincial Park, again. In many ways it felt like a repeat of our last trip: it was late, it was snowing, and our cabin was a mirror image of the previous one, except for a table lamp, coat hooks and a different Group of Seven reproduction above the door. There was another big difference, of course. Our older son couldn’t join us so it was just the three of us.

Big Bend in Arrowhead Provincial Park in the winter

Big Bend decked in white

Two trips to the same park only three weeks apart may seem repetitive. Arrowhead, however, is a park with endless possibilities so getting bored wasn’t an option. After a few days of snow, almost all the trails were open so we could finally do some cross-country skiing. Did I mention how much I love skiing? I am not even that good at it but there is something magical about gliding through a snow-covered forest. I couldn’t help feeling like we entered a fairy-tale, glided our way right into a postcard depicting a typical winter forest scene. Snow balancing on thin tree branches and broad furry paws of pines and spruces.  A deep forest slumber interrupted only by screeching squirrels and chattering blue jays.

cross-country skiing in Arrowhead Provicnial Park

Arrowhead has over 30 kilometres of cross-country ski trails

It was our first time skiing this winter so we started with some easy trails. After a quick turn on Bunny and Roe trails, I could feel my body getting into a familiar rhythm: the push of the ski, the swing of the arm, all working in concert, gliding forward.

cross-country skiing in Arrowhead Provincial Park

Arrowhead has trails for all skill levels

cross-country skiing in Arrowhead Provincial Park   cross-country skiing in Arrowhead Provincial Park

A perfect day for skiing

cross-country skiing in Arrowhead Provincial Park

Gliding through a postcard winter scene

Arrowhead Lake Trail was next – a six-kilometre loop around the park’s namesake. The trail was more challenging with a few hills but I managed to do the whole loop without falling once, which may seem minor but is a huge deal for me (the only time I landed on my backside that day was while putting my skis on – someone did a thorough job waxing them).

Arrowhead Lake Ski trail in Arrowhead Provincial Park

We’ve often paddled under this bridge, this was our first time skiing across it

Arrowhead Lake in the winter

The “thin ice” sign, obviously, doesn’t deter everyone

Arrowhead Lake Ski trail in Arrowhead Provincial Park

Arrowhead Lake Trail runs around the park’s namesake

Arrowhead Lake ski trail in Arrowhead Provincial park

Our first time on the other side of the lake

Occasionally, we would watch an experienced skier effortlessly glide right past us as we painstakingly v-stepped our way to the top of the hill. But it’s not a competition. Fun comes in all speeds and experience levels.

Arrowhead Lake Ski trail in Arrowhead Provincial Park

Taking the time to explore along the way

Arrowhead Lake Ski trail in Arrowhead Provincial Park    Arrowhead Lake Ski trail in Arrowhead Provincial Park

Going up slowly but surely

Arrowhead Lake Ski trail in Arrowhead Provincial Park

After an uphill struggle, time for some fun

Plus going slowly has its advantages – you notice more of the world around: a fir-tree encased in ice, fluffy blobs covered in snow, bark-stripped trees reaching for the sky. As I watched a rocky ridge along the trail, I realized that during all our trips to the park we’d never been to this side of the lake. There are always new experiences waiting no matter how many times we visit the parks.

fir tree frozen in ice at Arrowhead Provincial Park   three trees in Arrowhead Provincial Park in the winter

Going slowly has its advantages, like more time to explore the surroundings

white fluffy blobs on trees covered in snow    white fluffy blobs on trees covered in snow

What are these fairy furry blobs?

rocky ridge in Arrowhead Provincial Park in the winter

Exploring a different side of Arrowhead

And there is always solitude to be found if you go far enough. Even though the area close to equipment rentals was buzzing with people, the trails were quiet and peaceful. I must say the park has done an incredible job to ensure the best winter experience for its visitors. Since the time we came here for Family Day a few years ago, when we had to fight for the last pair of skis, the amount of rental equipment has grown about ten times. They also moved rentals into a separate portable leaving the park office to deal with permits and registrations only.

warming by the fire along the trail in Arrowhead Provincial Park in the winter

We loved the campfires scattered around the park – great spots to take a break

A new visitor centre is now in the works so next year the park will have even more amenities. That could mean even more people but hey, who would blame them. Arrowhead really knows how to do winter. It was fun to watch pint-sized skiers, part of the Jackrabbit Nordic Ski Program, practicing their skills, and couples trying snowshoeing for the first time. Not to mention a famous 1.3 kilometre skate trail, which attracts huge crowds. Even I couldn’t resist its pull. My skating experience amounts to two or three loops around a neighborhood rink, and with skates on my feet I exhibit the grace of a newborn deer learning how to walk. But I couldn’t allow the fear of looking stupid (which I did) to stop me from trying. With my husband’s help, I managed to skate (shuffled? waddled?) around the loop twice without falling, although that was more of my husband’s achievement than mine.

skating in Arrowhead Provincial Park

My third time on ice – trying to look more confident than I feel

skating at Arrowhead Provincial Park   skating in Arrowhead Provincial Park

My husband, meanwhile, showed some smooth moves

resting by the fire after skating in Arrowhead Provincial Park

Another rest spot by the skating trail

After all our outdoor adventures, we had our cozy cabin waiting for us with delicious meals, hot drinks and books. The snow kept falling through the weekend adding more and more white strokes to the landscape. By Sunday morning the world was reshaped, edges softened, lines blurred. As I bathed in this white stillness, I thought I wouldn’t mind getting trapped in a Groundhog Day like this for a while.

cabin in Arrowhead provincial park in the winter

Our cozy cabin waiting for us after a day of winter fun

books and a cup of coffee

Coffee, books – what better way to spend a winter morning

Arrowehad Provincial Park in the winter

Wouldn’t mind getting trapped in a Groundhog Day here

 

4 thoughts on “Groundhog Day or another trip to Arrowhead

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