Earlier this month we were invited by Healthy Family Expo to join them on the “Cheese and Chocolate Fondue tour” tour at Cypress Mountain. Four hours in the tranquil forest at night and a belly fully of cheese and chocolate later, I was left thinking life is pretty sweet in BC.
The Nordic Area at Cypress Mountain offers a selection of guided snowshoe tours that are all unique from each other. Rather than differing by intensity level, as you might expect from a sport, they vary by what activity you might want to do at the midpoint destination such as visit some bears, listen to some live music in a cozy lodge or fondue. While I say “sport”, snowshoeing can by done by anyone who enjoys walks. Modern snowshoes are nothing like the feet rackets I had pictured in my mind. Walking around in them feels just like normal walking.
About an hour after sunset, just over a dozen of us gathered in a little cabin to put on our head lamps before heading out with our friendly and extremely seasoned guide Paul. He took us through winding paths within the trees and taught us more than just a thing or two about staying safe in the wilderness, fun facts about the forest and told stories of his adventures. There are some surprise activities along the road to the 90-year old Hollyburn Lodge too that I won’t spoil.
At the lodge we were stuffed with hot apple cider and both cheese and chocolate fondue. I learned a new term that night. “Cheese leather”, that delicious crunchy pancake of cheese that forms at the bottom of the fondue pot. Is that a real term? I don’t know, but mmm cheese.
The meal starts off with a big plate of salad served family style. Part of the fun of the tour is getting to sit at a big table with a bunch of people, be it stranger or friends, and bonding over a meal after doing a fun activity together. It’s the kind of warmth that scenes in Christmas puzzles are made of.
The cheese fondue dinner comes with meatballs, potatoes, roasted veggies and bread. Well deserved after the trek so don’t be shy with that cheese!
I’m told the cheese is made from a blend of Gruyere and secrets.
To finish it off, chocolate fondue is served with fresh fruit and of course ingredients for smores.
What to wear
Head: I recommend bringing a toque since you’ll be wearing a head lamp. Keep that hair cute and forehead free of a weird impression.
Top: Waterproof jacket for sure. Warmth wise, it is only a little bit colder on the mountain and plus you’ll be moving so whatever you would wear in the city on a winter night should be fine. If in doubt, layer up and have a zip-up layers so you can unzip if it gets too hot.
Bottoms: Waterproof pants that you are comfortable walking in.
Shoes: Waterproof hiking shoes or boots are ideal. I wore lace up leather boots and was given a special boot that I could wear over to make sure no water got in. Sounds like a strange idea but it was really no problem.
Other: Mittens are helpful!
The 6th annual Healthy Family Expo comes to town on March 24th. There will be tons of activities for kids and samples and tastings of lots of different healthy foods. Children under 16 get in for free!