Winter at Arbraska Laflèche
Arbraska Laflèche is best known for its famous cave. Through the years, the park has also made its aerial park famous and Arbraska has become a premium outdoor and adventure destination in the Outaouais. What few people know, however, is that the park is open year-round. And not just the cave! They have a package called « l’Aventurier enneigé » (the snow-covered explorer, more or less) that allows you to enjoy the best winter has to offer on this spectacular site and it was recently tested by yours truly.
But first, the former scout that I am has a few guidelines for anyone tempted by this experience.
- How does one stay warm and ready to face possibly changing weather? One must dress like an onion : in layers, that will be removed or added as needed.
- The little boots that city dwellers wear in their everyday lives are made to be worn at one place : in the city. You’ll need good winter boot, the kind made to play in the snow. Same goes for gloves. Your in the woods here and there’s snow. Lots of it.
- If you plan on bringing your phone or any other electronic device to take pictures or record your experience, consider bringing a portable charger. The cold can be quite the battery killer and it would be a shame to not be able to Instagram the view from the zipline or the ice stalagmites in the cave (and fear not, you’ll be able to connect in and around the cottage)!
- Choose a not too bulky hat, especially is your cranial circumference is impressive. Keep in mind that you’ll need to fit a helmet over it.
That being said, let’s move on to the real issue here : the Snow-covered Explorer.
Upon our arrival, the team met us with a glorious smile. They told us about the day’s program and we chose to do the zipline first. We put on the harness and helmet and we follow the guide for a beautiful walk in the woods until we reach to the platform. Once there, he goes first and we wait for his signal to clip ourselves and zoom to the other side.
Oh what fun it is to glide through the air over immaculate snow, surrounded the snow-covered treetops! The view is breathtaking and the adreanaline is pumping: it’s just magical! Ziplines are always fun but in the wintertime, it gives you a whole other perspective.
We’re all smiles as we get down from the platform on the other side. We go back to the cottage to prepare for exploring the cave. Now’s the time to remove a few layers because it’s about 5°C in the cave and compared to the -1000 it feels like outside, that’s pretty warm. We put on a helmet with a lamp on it and we head to the entrance of the largest natural cave of the Canadian Shield.
Our guide Marc-André is quite the storyteller! The visit lasts about an hour but time flies when you’re having fun! He tells us stories about bats (we got to see a few), about the caves discovery and how it was formed. We go from one “room” to the other, sometimes standing, sometimes crouching, and at some point Marc-André has us sit down and turn off our lamps. Pitch. Black. You can’t experience a darkness more total than this. It’s chilling. Add to that the ice stalagmites and stalactites that are forming in the cave and you have an undeniably exceptional natural wonder here, and we’re extremely lucky to have here in the Outaouais.
The few minutes that separate us from the cottage will give us incredible points of view on this majestic winter landscape.
Snowshoe GPS Rallye
Back to the cottage. Off with the helmet and back with the tuque and the layers I had taken off. I’ll be in the woods for an hour! The idea is really simple: you have a GPS programmed to help you find the riddles hidden along the trail as well as a sheet to write down your answers. On with the snowshoes and off I go! Don’t go thinking that it’s easy, though, and that you’ll find all the riddles in the right order. No, you gotta work a bit more than that! And theses riddles aren’t easy to solve!
The sun is coming down and the woods are becoming darker and darker. Had I gotten there a bit earlier, I could’ve finished the rallye but time to call it a day. The GPS helps me find the fastest way back to the cottage where I give the snowshoes and all the equipment back (including a half-filled riddles sheet), I pet the two beautiful dogs playing in the lobby (‘cause yes, your four-legged friend is welcome!) and I leave, replenished.
What a day this has been! The package is aptly named because I indeed feel like a snow-covered explorer!
Definitely worth a second visit with family or friends!