Snowshoeing with friends: It's a beautiful day in a starkly beautiful place and I'm surrounded by friends. What more could I ask for? Well, maybe a steaming hot mug of green tea at the end of the day, but that’s about it!
That mound of snow out on frozen Blachford Lake is a quinzhee. Unlike an igloo, which is a long-term structure made from ice blocks, a quinzhee is a temporary shelter made by digging a hollow in compacted, piled snow. The word is from the Athabaskan language.
It can be difficult to motivate yourself to leave the warm, cozy comfort of your lodge, but snowshoeing is a pleasure all its own. Just down the hill from Blachford Lodge (where we were staying), is a well-made quinzhee - a temporary shelter made of packed snow, traditionally used for emergency survival purposes. This one was just built for fun though.
The "front door" of the quinzhee. It's best to leave the creation of such structures to experts, as an improperly made quinzhee can be dangerous if it collapses when occupied. Never climb atop an occupied quinzhee. And when in doubt, stay out!