Hunker down or head out? A Georgian Bay winter dilemma

The best place to leave the wind chill behind… Loree Forest

Wow …  just wow. This winter has been something else. At the risk of sounding like an old-timer, this reminds me of the winters when I was young. Snow banks that towered over your head, nights spent dreaming of snow days, days spent crushing your parent’s sanity…

And here we are, another snow day in Meaford. The plows have just been pulled off the roads (many of which are closed) and the wind is howling outside. It’s minus one million with the wind chill and even though I’m a self-proclaimed winter lover, I find it difficult to summon up the motivation to head outside.

I battled this same hunker-down mentality yesterday and finally I’d had enough. One can only make so much soup, bake so many muffins, play so many cards … and then, at the end of your rope, it is time to go outside.

As a seasoned Canadian, I know what it takes to venture outside in these conditions. Wool socks, long johns, leggings, snow pants, jacket, neck-warmer, toque, inner mitts, outer mitts, and on the way out the door, I turned back for what turned out to be the key piece of equipment—goggles. I once thought goggles were solely for the slopes, but I’ve recently changed my tune. I will wear goggles to walk three blocks in this sideways wind—so goggles for snowshoeing seem totally reasonable.

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Yes, M&M’s do freeze!

I decided to head for hands-down the best place to be when the wind-chill reaches it’s current super-sketchy level: The forest—Loree Forest to be exact. Geared to the tits (yep, that’s what I said) with a pack full of camera gear, a pocket full of M&M’s, a bottle of water and a soon-to-be-frozen solid apple, I left the truck and headed for the entrance. I was comforted to see another car, and a pair of snowshoers heading out. “It’s warmer in the bush right?” I asked.  And then I got the nod—it was all the reassurance I needed to push forward.

Options, it’s all about options.

I love Loree because this trail has options and a certain level of built-in satisfaction. You can opt for a longer side trail, or you can book it straight for the escarpment and the top of Georgian Peaks. I went straight in, deciding if I was warm enough once I got to the edge, I’d take a longer route out. The built-in satisfaction is the view—when you reach the top of Georgian Peaks, there’s a nice viewing deck that lets you stop for a break, watch the snow squalls absolutely pound Midland and take a few minutes to regroup.

Midland’s getting hammered!

I plodded my way through to the escarpment, looped back on the side trail and made it back to the truck safe and sound. While my apple was frozen solid, I was heated up in my winter gear, maybe even sweating a little and I had that familiar feeling of satisfaction—you know the one where you just kicked winter’s butt? Top it off with a Vanilla Latte at Ashanti, a short drive back to my home office, and a reminder that wind chill be damned, it’s always worth getting outside, and the journey was a success. With that said, today I may just settle for shoveling the driveway and some homemade hot chocolate. Be safe, be warm and embrace winter—if only for the sheer satisfaction of coming back inside.

White trail markers or more snow? Tough call.