The temperature displayed on the dashboard of the car dropped by another degree. And then another. And another. The number had been steadily heading south since we’d left the city and entered Gatineau Park in Quebec. The winter weather in Ottawa had been colder than usual all winter long and tonight was no exception.
We were on our way to Lac Philippe where we’d park the car for the night, strap on snowshoes and hike into Taylor Lake. A yurt awaited us on the far side of the lake where we planned to spend the night. But first we had to survive the frigid temperatures.
As my boyfriend K put the car in park and we began bundling up, we glanced one last time at the bright lights on the dash. -29°C was the number staring back at us. And that was without the added wind chill factor. I zipped the collar of my jacket to the top and pulled my hat a bit snugger around my ears, thankful there would be a wood burning stove in our yurt to keep us warm tonight.
After putting on our snowshoes and adjusting our backpacks around our waist, we set off onto the trails. One good thing about hiking tonight was that the moon was full and the air crisp and clear. We wouldn’t be seeing any stars tonight but the moonlight was so bright we didn’t need our headlamps at all, and hiked to our yurt by the light of the moon.
After about an hour and half of hiking though the silence of the woods, we arrived to find our little yurt, dark and cold but ready to go. Collecting some fire wood from the wood shelter across the trail from the yurt, we filled the wood burning stove and had a crackling fire going in no time. We set about lighting candles, pouring ourselves some wine and opening up some snacks as we settled in, making this one large room our home for the night.
Slowly but surly the place warmed up and layer by layer we unwrapped ourselves of down jackets and merino wool thermals. I pulled on my down slippers and placed a bench seat right in front of the wood stove, feeling the warmth penetrate down to my cold bones.
We spent the evening enjoying a picnic of fried chicken and raw veggies while sipping on red wine. It was wonderful to just be in the moment and appreciate our surroundings and company. We passed the time telling stories of adventures past, all the while making new memories.
Around midnight we were feeling adventurous so we put on our winter jackets, hats and mitts and headed outside to admire the full moon shining down on the open lake. Feeling warmed by the fire (and the wine!) we explored our immediate surroundings, slipping and sliding along the packed down trail and jumping around in the deep, fluffy snow in the forest.
That night, after crawling into my sleeping bag on one of the bunks in the yurt, I fell sound asleep in no time. All the fresh, cold, winter air and exercise left me feeling relaxed and peaceful in my surroundings.
The next morning I woke to the bright shinning sun as it attempted to enter the yurt through the windows and skylight.
Making the cold journey to the outhouse next door, I made a detour to the lake side and admired the view, as it was my first time seeing Taylor Lake and our yurt in the daylight. Taking in the view, it felt like I was in the middle of a winter wonderland.
After a wonderful breakfast of bacon and eggs we packed up our gear and prepared for the 6 km hike back to the car. By the time we were leaving, the sun was out in full force, warming our faces as we walked. It was definitely warmer out today than yesterday and we were happy to be spending time outside in the beautiful, warm, winter weather. I felt very lucky and appreciative to have such an amazing park so close to home!
Have you ever gone winter camping/glamping?