By Aneka Rao
This year marked my first winter in Ottawa. I’d heard horror stories about the wet, bone-chilling cold and snow piled up above your head. Stay inside and hibernate, that was the advice I got. But four months is a long time to be cooped up, so in January, I signed up for the Intro to Winter Mix with Ripple Adventure.
Every Thursday, I go on a different winter adventure – downhill skiing at Camp Fortune, snowshoeing along the Ottawa River, cross-country skiing in Gatineau Park, speed skating on the Rideau Canal. As a newcomer to winter sports, which I traditionally avoid like the plague (chalk it up to laziness and an aversion to cold weather), it’s been an incredible experience and a great way to beat the winter blues by staying active. Plus, we get personal instruction from certified professionals, which greatly diminishes my fear of breaking bones and/or making a fool of myself.
Ripple Adventure is the brainchild of Erin Hope, an Ottawa resident who wanted to create a way for Ottawans, both newcomers and long-time residents, to take advantage of the incredible outdoor opportunities the city has to offer while also meeting like-minded individuals.
The winter programs have something for everyone, from novices who are finally ready to embrace the Canadian winter to experts looking to try a new sport, make new outdoor activity buddies or get some extra instruction. Besides the Intro to Winter Mix, Ripple also offers a Winter Mix for more experienced athletes, an All Day Winter Mix (which includes dog sledding), a Cardio Camp for those looking for a winter gym alternative and a Speed Camp. Participants can sign up for a program – two-and-a-half months of weekly activities, including lessons and equipment rentals – or elect to drop in. A list of weekly activities is posted on the Ripple Adventure website.
While the winter session is almost over, the spring session is set to begin and it looks pretty exciting. Canoeing, kayaking, dragon boat racing, road and mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding are among the activities on offer. I’m hoping to sign up for an Intro to Spring Mix. Hopefully, I’ll meet more cool people, and maybe even become outdoorsy in the process.