Snow­shoe­ing through na­ture

Lebanon Traveler - - CONTENT -

Le­banon's re­mote hill­sides of­fer a mul­ti­tude of white trails per­fect for snow­shoe­ing es­capades

From De­cem­ber un­til mid March, some years even un­til April, Le­banon’s re­mote hill­sides are ideal des­ti­na­tions for snow­shoe en­thu­si­asts in search of pris­tine snow. The best places for snow­shoe­ing are the coun­try's na­ture re­serves, such as Horsch Eh­den and the Chouf Bio­sphere Re­serve, both just stunning when blan­keted with a layer of white. The for­est’s high tow­er­ing cedar trees cov­ered in snow are a sight to be seen and the trails that pass through rate from easy to hard. The trees of­fer wel­come shel­ter dur­ing a snow­storm and the forests are home to a va­ri­ety of an­i­mal species such as wolf, fox, hyena, and wild boar. Though rare to spot in broad day­light, in win­ter their tracks are a won­der­ful sight, vis­i­ble on the snowy trails.

At Horsch Eh­den and the Chouf Bio­sphere Re­serve it is pos­si­ble to rent snow­shoes and book the ser­vices of a for­est ranger for a guided snow­shoe tour; a good idea if you are a novice. Apart from the re­serves there are many other na­ture spots to head out to. Snow­shoe­ing gives you the abil­ity to reach re­mote hills and avoid the crowded ski re­sorts and packed roads lead­ing up to them on the week­ends. Un­like ski­ing, snow­shoe­ing is not a risky ac­tiv­ity and doesn’t call for much gear, just the snow­shoes them­selves, plus wa­ter­proof footwear and cloth­ing. It’s just you and na­ture, no need to rely on ski lifts or per­fect snow and weather con­di­tions – of­ten the best snow­shoe­ing trips are when it's snow­ing and the el­e­ments

are out in force. The weather can be un­pre­dictable and fog can app­pear sud­denly, so al­ways go with a part­ner and carry a mo­bile phone with you in case of an emer­gency.

"I went snow­shoing for the first time last win­ter as the ski slopes did not open due to the lack of snow," says Christine Codsi, co-founder of Tawlet, an open kitchen, where dif­fer­ent cooks pre­pare tra­di­tional food from their re­gion. "I just went with a group and we hired snow­shoes in Lalouq and walked on the hills. It's more tir­ing maybe than ski­ing as you are con­stantly mov­ing but you quickly get the hang of it. Keep­ing up a good pace is a great work out." The still­ness of the hills, breath­ing fresh win­ter air and tak­ing in the stunning views over the plains of Lalouq

It's more tir­ing maybe than ski­ing as you are con­stantly mov­ing but you quickly get

the hang of it

is an in­cred­i­ble boost for the mind af­ter a long week in the city.

To ex­tend the win­ter won­der­land ex­pe­ri­ence, an overnight stay in the moun­tains af­ter a snow­shoing trip is highly rec­om­mended. In Horsch Eh­den there are lit­tle wooden lodges, lo­cated right at the Nabeh Jouit en­trance, which can be booked for the night. While there, make sure to ask the manager Ra­monda to serve up her spe­cial hrisse, a creamy wheat and chicken stew ooz­ing with cin­na­mon and nut­meg. At the end of the day, en­er­gised by the hearty broth, you may just feel like putting your snow­shoes back on again and head­ing out for a walk in the snow lit up by the moon and the starry night sky. It’s just mag­i­cal.

Sabina Llewellyn-davies

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