Monday, January 31, 2011

Trying out snowshoeing

I confess: I've been anxious to try snowshoeing for some time.

It always seemed like the perfect wintertime activity. It's good exercise, fairly easy to learn (unlike snowboarding, which I needed about 10 minutes and a bruised hip to figure out it wasn't for me), and you can do it pretty much anywhere.

Much like hiking, snowshoeing also has an exploration/adventure aspect to appreciate. Vigorous workouts in the gym are one thing, but there's something to behold about getting outside and enjoying the scenery.

Monday's snowstorm was the perfect excuse to give it a try. What better way to make the most out of the weather than to sample footwear made for the conditions? "While other people are complaining about the snow, I'll be hiking up hills and enjoying the heck out of it," I told myself.

So, with a pair of borrowed snowshoes in tow (a big thanks to Flying Penguin Outdoor Sports owner Jon Andersen for lending me his), I made my way over to Seven Mile Creek.

I chose Seven Mile Creek for several reasons: It has the biggest hills, I enjoyed hiking there last spring, and it's right off Highway 169, thus making it easy to get to even in a heavy snowstorm. Most of all, I figured nobody would be there, so there wouldn't be anyone to laugh at me if I took a bad fall getting used to the snowshoes.

As it turns out, there really wasn't much of a "getting used to" process for the shoes. It was pretty much just strap 'em on and go.

I had to use a high-kneed walk to keep the shoes from getting stuck in the mass amounts of snow (the picnic tables at the park were pretty much buried) and turning around was like a less awkward version of walking in skis. But aside from that, it was essentially the same as walking.

The biggest problem I had was tiring myself out too quickly. Like any other new activity, snowshoeing gives the body a unique workout that it's not used to (I mostly felt it in my hips and calves) and should thus be approached gingerly at first.

Despite being aware of that notion, I decided to meander off the park's trails and attempted to climb some of its bigger hills. The trails weren't necessarily easy to walk (judging by the lack of tracks, there probably hasn't been many people out there lately), but they were starting to feel boring. I figured half the fun of having snowshoes is to go places you normally couldn't go in regular shoes.

Aside from the occasional tumble (snowshoes don't grip as well as I thought they would), I made it up the hill just fine. However, after climbing the ravine between Trails 1 and 2 to the park's scenic overlook (park map here), I came to realize that I made a pretty egregious mistake: I was breaking a pretty good sweat and it was starting to feel cold outside. If that wasn't enough, I had gotten pretty thirsty and left my water in the car ... on the other side of the park.

Realizing that I was starting to get fatigued, I took a far more conservative route back to the parking lot. I wound up needing the extra energy too, as my car got stuck trying to get out of the parking lot. In case anybody is curious, shoveling a car out is even less pleasant after two hours of snowshoeing.

Despite the not-so-pleasant ending, I thoroughly enjoyed snowshoeing and will definitely look into getting a pair of them for myself in the future. I don't know if I would want to do it competitively (my hips are still very upset with me), but at the very least, it's another activity to help me get the most out of winter.

1 comment:

  1. I've never tried snowshoeing because I thought it would be difficult. Thank you for sharing this experience, winter gets so long and its nice to learn some outside activities that most people can do.