Kolapore Snowshoe & Wine Tasting

What better way to celebrate the long cold winter than to combine a snowshoe tour with a wine tasting! On Sunday January 25th, the Georgian Triangle Hikers/Snowshoers set out on a snowshoe through the Kolapore Uplands and to the top of Metcalfe Rock.

Metcalfe Rock

The day was bluebird sky with bright sun and reasonable temperatures. Not summery but not the worst of the frostbite inducing January days either. The snow was powdery and deep creating perfect snowshoe conditions and also perfect for snow angel making as well.

Our adventure was guided by the bubbly Jennie Elmslie of Free Spirit Tours who is also a contributor here at My Active Lifetime! Jennie’s knowledge of the Metcalfe Rock area was an incredible addition to the hike. For example she pointed out some facts that some of us didn’t know about the cedar trees that cling tenaciously to the cliff sides. These trees are 500, 600 and even up to 800 years old!


1901398_10155226760180624_9103686089993365482_nThe Free Spirit Tours van picked us up and delivered us from the meeting place, over the Niagara Escarpment through to Kolapore. The stuck vehicles at the parking lot told us that the snow was fresh and deep!

After a brief introduction where we all gave our names and favourite flower, we were off on a steady climb up to the top of Metcalf rock.

We paid attention to keep to the snowshoe trail, sometimes venturing into the deeper snow to the sides while avoiding the cross country ski tracks.

The Rock

Metcalfe Rock in summer is a mecca for rock climbing enthusiasts, hikers and nature lovers. In winter it’s heaven for snowshoers and cross country skiers. There are a network of caves that run under the deep crevasses at the bottom of the rock as well that offer year round caving.

The view of the ValleyAfter our climb ended we snowshoed across the top of the rock to the lookout point for some photos of the valley below. The sun cast warm light over the scene making it feel like it was not cold at all! The palette of colours ranged from warm amber from the sunlight to cool purples and blues in the shaded snowy areas.

The forest around us felt alive even in winter as the old growth cedars staked their turf on one side of the trail, and the deciduous young trees held ground on the other side. It was as if there was an agreement of sorts between them.

10801891_10155226758780624_7409827995429109287_nOpen Fields

The trail opened up to a wide open field of deep powder where we ran around like kids again frolicking in the snow. Some made snow angels and others ran repeats in the snow just revelling in being alive this day.

A painter would have loved being along for this hike I think because of the amazing graphical lines cast by the long shadows of the winter sun.

Georgian Hills Vineyards

Georgian Hills Vineyards

After the descent from Metcalfe Rock we piled into the van again for the trip to Georgian Hills Vineyards. Georgian Hills is a young vineyard in the Beaver Valley planted on a former apple orchard.

Our vision is to establish a sustainable winery and vineyards in Beaver Valley, with a long term goal to develop a successful wine industry in the Georgian Bay region.

There is a small building on the vineyard property that acts as a welcome centre, tasting room and shop. It is here that we experienced not only their excellent wine, but were treated to an education about tasting and pairing of the wines with various foods.

Nothing is more heartwarming that sitting by a fire sipping wine and pairing it with cheeses, olives and other items after a cold snowshoe. This combined with the knowledge about the wines, the region and the flavours made the visit very special.

Getting Here

I highly recommend both the snowshoe tour and the wine tasting. For more information about Free Spirit Tours, visit their website: Free Spirit Tours. For more information about Georgian Hills Vineyards visit their website: Georgian Hills Vineyards



Old growth mixed with deciduous trees at Metcalfe Rock
Old growth mixed with deciduous trees at Metcalfe Rock
The forest
Climbing through the forest
Inside the winery at Georgian Hills Vineyards
Inside the winery at Georgian Hills Vineyards
Ice Wine
Frozen on the Vine – Ice wine featuring illustration and design of label by author Nick Brindisi


Snowshoe Running 2014

Winter blew into the eastern seaboard early this year, in some cases by November 18th! Buffalo got 6 feet of snow in one storm and most places in the areas of the great lakes were thrust suddenly into winter from fall.


As an ultra trail runner I find it difficult to keep up the training into the winter months. It’s not only because of the cold and darkness but because the trails are often full of snow here in beautiful Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. This makes running very difficult to do in any meaningful way.

runshoesmesnowSnowshoes are designed to help you by increasing the surface area of your feet giving you flotation through less weight per square area. They turn deep snow trails into potential running routes again. They open up vast tracts of land that is usually only good for running in the summer for those of us who do live in a winter climate.

Modern snowshoes are designed with mobility and convenience in mind. They are light and feature bindings that are easy for a gloved hand to deal with. Most also feature traction claws on the bottom for grip and are fully articulated at the foot so that the ankle can move through a normal range of motion. It is this range of motion and lightness that allows for running!

While I don’t have snowshoes that are specifically designed for running, I run with them anyway. there is a vast range of sizes and styles of snowshoes. Larger ones are best for more flotation on deep snow, and they decrease from there all the way down to running sized snowshoes. The sizes in between these extremes are basically a compromise between flotation and speed. Some people will own several pairs and select the size/weight combination that suits their needs for that day. For a large selection of snowshoes see our Active Gear Snowshoe page.

 The Collingwood Deer Trail

deerThe Town of Collingwood has a super developed trail system that allows for human powered transportation and recreation. It can take you nearly anywhere in town! The Deer trail is one of these that connects the Georgian Trail with the 11th Line and many other trails all over Collingwood. It is possible to follow this trail network to join the famous Bruce Trail which is an 885 km continuous trail from Niagara Falls to Tobermory.

During 8 kilometres of snowshoe running yesterday I used the Georgian Trail to get to the Deer Trail and enjoyed knee deep to mid shin depths of snow. The views of the escarpment and the downhill ski hill called Blue Mountain were amazing. It felt so good to leave my position behind my Mac computer developing websites and put it all out of my head. Gliding silently through the woods in the fresh powder dump cleared all the minute details I have in my head away at least temporarily.

Resistance Training

The added resistance from running in deep snow along with the extra weight of the snowshoes is wonderful for cross-training and strengthening the running muscles during my off season from racing. With every step the snowshoe sinks in and snow fills on top of the shoe. This means it resists pulling your foot upwards at the end of each stride. It’s sort of like underwater running or running in deep beach sand but with extra upwards force required.

woodsThe muscle groups that I find are gaining a lot of strength from this are the calf/achilles region as well as hip flexors. For some runners with weaker gluteus muscles it’s the glutes that take the brunt of the work with this type of snowshoe running. I’ve never had weak glutes so it’s all about strengthening my hip flexors and calf muscles. One other area is abdominal and core muscles which also get a great workout due to the exaggerated nature of the strides when running in deep snow. Whatever it is you will find you use muscles you forgot you had during the summer!

In Summary

When winter closes in and days are short it’s a great idea to strap on your snowshoes and get out there! Release the endorphins, get fresh air and train your body in a way that is less boring than a stair master. Remember also that it will keep that holiday spare tire from growing as you devour those big meals. Hydrate, stay safe and enjoy the snow!



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