In Search Of Snow
By Marilyn Reaume
(WHITNEY, ON) – We were spared a harsh winter this year, and believe me I’m grateful. But at the beginning of March, I was missing the snow. Brand new cross country skis I’d received for Christmas last year remained tucked away in the rafters of my garage, unused. So rather than heading toward southern climes this March Break, my compass pointed north, seeking snow.
A resort in Algonquin Park offering snowshoeing, dog-sledding, ice skating, and cross country skiing sounded perfect. And when I booked in early March, they assured me there was plenty of snow and more on the way. Thus I embarked on a weekend journey that Friday afternoon in mid March. After a comfortable four hour drive from Hamilton, I arrived with my husband at the Couples Resort in Whitney, Ontario, bordering the eastern woodlands of Algonquin Park, ready for my winter fix. Predictably, as I’d travelled steadily northward, I found more and more of the white fluffy stuff, the elixir of life I longed for……snow!
In fact I found far more than I bargained for. When family and friends learned of my travels to Algonquin Park, they assumed I was roughing it. However, nothing was further from the truth. This is definitely not camping, and no kids are allowed. The Couples Resort is a high end establishment, an oasis of luxury in the wilderness.
Stretching out before us were several wooden buildings, too attractive to be called cabins, nestled alongside the Madawaska River. Ultra-modern villas and chic chalets dotted the roadside amongst larger two-storey structures. Checking in at the Main Lodge close to the dinner hour, we reserved seats in the dining room for 7:30 and headed back to “Tanzania”, our room in the Exotic Junior Suites, housing six units in all. The first thing that met my eye was the double Jacuzzi strategically placed in front of the wood burning fireplace. Hopping in with a glass of wine, it was a wonderful way to begin the weekend, before dining on a sumptuous five course meal.
It’s difficult to consume that much food, but it was so incredibly delicious, I tried my best. It began with fresh bread served with hummus. The second course was a gourmet appetizer, third course soup or salad, followed by the main entree, and finally your choice of several exquisite desserts. I took my blueberry cheesecake back to the room to enjoy later in the hot tub, an amenity in every suite, set outside on the balcony overlooking the stalwart pines along the riverbank. The dining room atmosphere is sophisticated and upscale. Original artwork is prominently on display by local artist, Gertrud Sorensen, depicting Muskoka’s natural landscape portrayed on vibrantly coloured canvasses. The epicurean dining experience was duplicated on the second evening, part of an $800 couples weekend package which included the room for two nights, two breakfasts and two dinners (excluding beverages), and the provision of all seasonal sports equipment needed to enjoy the great outdoors.
You can do a lot, or nothing at all, but I was there to enjoy the snow. So I proceeded to the Sports Centre to check out the snowshoes. Although the warm temperatures had crept their way north, there was still enough snow on Bear Trail to give it a go, and I was anxious to experience something new. The ice grippers on the snowshoes came in handy to tackle some patchy areas of melting snow and ice on the trail but, nevertheless, I enjoyed the wilderness setting and the discovery of a new winter sports activity.
Unfortunately there was not enough snow at the resort to make cross country skiing viable, however, for a permit fee of $15 I could have ventured into adjacent Algonquin Park, where I was assured good ski trails could be found in abundance. With temperatures in the mid teens, the river was too dangerous to skate, and the dogs were not sledding, but horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking were provided as options. Enjoying pure relaxation was another.
The spa on site offered a number of selections to pamper and unwind. I had my choice of shiatsu, hot stone therapy, or traditional massage, but since the RMT was off with a shoulder injury, I decided to forego the spa and instead hopped into the steam room back in Tanzania. Between the hot tub, Jacuzzi and steam room available within the suite, a good part of the weekend was spent indoors enjoying a romantic weekend in complete seclusion and tranquility.
The original objective had changed. While I started out keen to explore outdoor winter wilderness activities, this eventually gave way to a weekend of quiet relaxation, and I was glad for a bit of both. On the way home we discussed revisiting the Couples Resort for a summertime weekend stay. Next time I’ll be seeking water, for kayaking, paddle-boating, canoeing, and swimming in the scenic outdoor pool or in the clean, cool water of the Madawaska River. But for this time, the words of the prophets rang true, “seek and ye shall find”, for I’d successfully found the last remnants of snow!