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Winter in Québec doesn’t just consist of snow, darkness and cold temperatures. It is also one of the most unique seasons of the year. We have as much fun going outside and playing in the snow, as we have coming back inside and warming up around the fire place. It is also the season with the brightest blue sky you have ever seen and where the warmth of the earth’s radiates in an impressive manner. Discover four unusual activities that will make you experience the winter like you have never imagined.

Snow – Snow tagging at La Mauricie National Park

Snow what? You might ask yourself!? Snow tagging – or graphics on snow – is an original and unique activity in Quebec, practiced on two of the most beautiful lakes in La Mauricie National Park. Equipped with snowshoes, a map and a compass, all you have to do is follow the number of steps to be walked in different directions to draw a giant picture in the snow. Then admire your work from a lookout overlooking the lake. Step by step, your snowshoes leave imprints in the form of a beaver, a bicycle or a spider web, all depending on the chosen image. This activity is great for the whole family and the result after one or two hours of walking in the snow is really amazing. Hurry up and go admire your work of art once you have finished it, because as soon as the next winter storm arrives, the snow and wind will erase everything for the next group or family! Reservations are required.

Air – Hot air balloon

The cold air is scathing, the sky is clear and everything is calm. All of a sudden a loud and dull sound like the breath of a whale breaks the silence of the flight, and suddenly the heat is spreading. The giant balloon is gaining altitude to be able to slide into the air currents. Hot air ballooning in winter is a magical and once in a lifetime activity. Since the temperatures in winter are cold and constant, flights can take place at any time of the day. Furthermore, the hot air that fills the balloon is lighter than the cold air of the atmosphere; therefore the balloon uses less propane, which gives the pilot a greater autonomy in winter. It has to be cold up there! Indeed, you will have to put an extra layer and wear even more compared to when you are on the ground. The temperature drops by about 2 °C per 1000 feet of altitude. If it is -20 °C on the ground, it will be -30 °C at 5000 feet altitude. But since the balloon moves with the wind, the cold air feels less piercing. There are several companies that offer winter flights in the province, mainly in the Montérégie and in the Outaouais region.

Fire – Torch lights evening hike

Although fire is no longer as present in our modern day life as it used to be, it remains hypnotizing and comforting on a cold winter evening. It is 5 pm and already dark outside? Do not worry, instead of moping around in front of your screens, dress warmly and go play outside. Torch light evening hikes are organized every winter throughout the province. The National Parks of Bic, Mont-Mégantic, Mont-Tremblant or Iles-des-Boucherville, and the regional parks in the Laurentians, Lanaudiere or Mauricie region and many others light up their trails with torches when the night falls. All the senses are awake, the sight is reduced but hearing, touch and smell, which are sometimes left aside during the day, pick up the slack. The crunching of the footsteps in the snow,  the wind rustling in the spruce trees, the comforting warmth of the flames and the smell of the hot chocolate that awaits you at the end of the hike, there are many delights to enjoy during these evenings. A great activity you can do with the whole family, with your significant other or with friends, to take advantage of the winter darkness.

Earth – Speleology at the Laflèche cave

Did you know that in the Laflèche cave in the Outaouais region it is a constant 4 °C all year round? One way to take a break from the cold winter temperatures and to remove the tuque for a few hours… to put on a caving helmet. Ice stalactites and stalagmites are your companions on this underground trek in the largest accessible cave of the Canadian Shield. During the guided tours of one to two hours, you will be pushed to your limits by crawling in tight rock corridors that convey more than 13000 years of history. Explore narrow passages and follow your guide into newly accessible and majestic galleries. Looking for even more thrills? You can also spend the night in the cave! After a discovery tour of the galleries, light a fire in the deepest point of the cave and listen to your guide telling you the stories that surround the Laflèche cave. Later, once your eyelids are heavy, you install your sleeping bag for the darkest night of your life! An activity that is accessible to everyone (for groups of 8 people minimum) except for the claustrophobics of course! As of 8 years old.

By Frédérique Sauvée, outdoor lifestyle contributor



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