Most Brazen Snowshoe Adventure

Landon, Backcountry Ambassador

Earlier this year I decided to plan and execute a fundraising event to benefit a nonprofit organization that provides outdoor adventure programs for at-risk urban teens. The catalyst for raising awareness, and in turn funds, was an ambitious two day, two peak assault on the highest summits in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California; Brokeoff Mountain and Lassen Peak – an active volcano. The trip required covering nearly 30 miles over the two day trip and saw an elevation change of almost 8,000 ft.

This, by far was my most brazen snowshoe adventure. It wasn’t a long multi-day trip (I love those too), but there was so much riding on the success of the climb. My climbing partner and I had a goal of raising $5,000 dollars (which he hit) and we had a number of sponsors for the climb who we did not want to let down, including Tubbs Snowshoes (thanks again for the Flex ALPs!!). Laden down with the weight of heavy packs with all the gear we needed for a winter climb in a park that gets more snow than any other place in California made the trip a difficult one, yet the extra load of expectations, months of public preparation and media coverage coupled with the desire to climb for the kids whose lives the money would affect was a cumbersome, self-ascribed burden to carry.

To say that my body didn’t scream for respite nearly every vertical foot climbed would be a lie. The first day was my most difficult and challenging. We started at 7am and climbed to the summit of Brokeoff Mountain, a 7.5 miles RT. Then we set off to snowshoe 9 miles in to a place where we set up camp. By the time we had reached our destination it was a pitch black, moonless night. The temperatures had dropped to the low teens and even setting up a tent and cooking dinner seemed like arduous tasks for my spent body. However the new day brought a renewed sense of energy and we finished our climb successfully.

The memory of the trip will forever be one of my fondest snowshoeing trips. The opportunity to do be a part of doing good for others and the chance to work with amazing companies to do what I already love to do, be outdoors, was and will be, a highlight on my outdoor resume so to speak.

This is why I do what I do.

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Terry, Backcountry Ambassador

Living in the PNW, just at the base of the North Cascade Range, I am afforded all types of outdoor activities. Initially I was strictly into hiking and camping, but soon found myself spending the winter months in the gym to stay physically fit while my mind dreamed about the mountains.

About 3 years ago that all changed when I purchased my first pair of snowshoes, Tubbs Xplore. Within a week of their arrival I was on Mountain Loop Highway, in January, in some of the best conditions imaginable. The freedom to be on or off trail, fresh powder or groomed, was very liberating and rewarding. There was no going back. I was and still am hooked.

That first season brought many great adventures and even greater memories as I started snowshoeing with friends and family. We hit the trails twice a week, never going to the same location twice. The wheels were set in motion and winter would never be the same.

Summers are spent constantly planning my next outing. A avid hiker, backpacker, camper and over all outdoor enthusiast, this is the perfect gateway to scout trails and locations for the winter season. Snowshoe season.

Last summer I made the hike up Mount Dickerman in the North Cascade Range. Immediately, I realized I had to snowshoe this route. The 8.6 miles and 3875 feet of elevation gain would be tough, and the conditions (ice, north face cliffs and avalanche danger) questionable at best.

Months passed and I found myself geared up and ready for the toughest event of my life. Both mentally and physically. Several hours, 4+ miles, more than a vertical mile, and 7 new friends later… I was at the top. I could not be more proud of myself and was in such awe of the natural beauty surrounding me.

Since that initial winter, I have grown and expanded my style of snowshoeing. Camping, shoeing in the dark and tackling tougher terrain, all the while growing as a individual and with others who frequent the routes with me. Everyone who tries it appreciates the experience on multiple levels, it brings us closer to one another and puts a emphasis on the importance of being outdoors.

This is why I do what I do. Being outdoors is where we belong, regardless of the season.

TERRYTWP

The Ice Caves of Lake Michigan

Edited - Kimberly Ciela - Day Hiking Photo E
Kim, Day Hiking Ambassador

Winters in Michigan are known to be long, snowy, and cold. This winter was no exception, nothing out of the ordinary. Oh wait, but it was! The words “Polar Vortex” had become a household name. Everybody was talking about it. It was all over the news, and across my social media channels. The Polar Vortex was creating the coldest, longest winter anyone had seen in years. What it produced was truly spectacular!

Amid the numerous accounts of the Polar Vortex wreaking havoc across the Midwest, stories started popping up about Ice Caves that had formed along the lakeshore. Many had already explored and photographed this amazing phenomenon. It was a once in a lifetime experience, something to share with future generations and we were totally going to have to check it out too!

Kim in Cave

We piled on our layers, packed our Snowshoe gear and headed out to Lake Michigan.  Lake Michigan has always been our favorite place to explore no matter what the season. But ice caves? This was going be a new exciting adventure! Off we went, in search of ice caves.

As we turned down the road near the lakeshore it was obvious we were in the right place. Cars were parked all down the road. Gear laden people were filing out with their dogs on leashes, and kids in tow on sleds. Our excitement grew. This was going to be SO COOL!

We hiked down the road a long ways, but finally we arrived to the spot where people were entering, walking out onto the ice. They looked like ants on an ant hill. Only the ant hills were huge, massive ice caves carved out of ice and snow all along the shoreline of the very frozen Lake Michigan.  Our jaws dropped. It was nothing we had ever seen before. In all of the years we had lived in Northern Michigan we had never seen anything like it. I grabbed my camera from my backpack and began snapping up pictures as we walked in and out of the long line of ice caves.  We couldn’t tear ourselves away. We stayed and explored the ice caves until the sun began to set. Then we headed home satisfied that we had just witnessed Mother Nature in her rarest form. We could not wait to share our photos with friends and family. Share the splendor of winter in Northern Michigan.

OutsideCaves

Snowshoeing is Literally Changing Their Lives

 Cropped_jen
Jen, Family Ambassador

Growing up in New England, it was inevitable that I would love winter fun. My childhood was full of snowball fights, snow-forts, sledding, and the occasional tongue stuck to an icicle. Yet, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I tried most snow sports – snowshoeing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. As an inner-city kid, these activities weren’t just cost-prohibitive, they were unknowns. After all, who snowshoes down an urban street?

Flash forward twenty years – I am now happily married to an avid hiker. After some prodding (and a little crying on my part), my wife got me hiking and camping. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the outdoors. Nowadays we share our outdoor adventures with our three kids, and hundreds of our high school students.

When we started an outdoor adventure club at the inner-city high school in which we teach, we were met with skepticism from our principal, who asked, “Do you even think you’ll get 10 kids to join?” I understood his question. After all, I grew up less than two miles from a state forest, yet had never set foot in it as a kid. Undaunted, we pushed forward with the club.

In the first year, we had 150 kids sign up for all sorts of activities, including hiking, canoeing, ice-skating, snowboarding, and camping. They pleaded with me to teach them how to snowshoe, so I enrolled in an workshop with the Appalachian Mountain Club. At 37 years old, I learned to snowshoe, and more importantly, earned access to snowshoes for my students through the AMC’s Youth Opportunities Program.

Just one week after the workshop, I took seventeen students snowshoeing in Western Massachusetts. It was amazing. My oldest daughter snowshoed with us – proving that even three year olds can conquer the snow on a set of Tubbs. Even my one year old twins got in on the fun, hitching rides in kid carriers as we explored the forest trails.

My love for exploring the outdoors strengthened and grew as I watched my urban students discover a new world outside their crumbling concrete and gang-infested neighborhoods. Snowshoeing is literally changing their lives. Their enthusiasm, and that of my own children, has become my greatest inspiration for getting outdoors in the winter months.

A New Start

Sandy, Trail Walking Ambassador

Four years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, what a surprise. I have always been healthy and active and felt I took care of myself. Our family had no history of breast cancer and I was rarely sick. Fortunately, it was caught early, after a couple of surgeries and chemo and radiation all was good. I was on my road back to recovery and gaining my strength and fitness back. My job had been getting more and more stressful over that last few years, I did not realize how much this had affected my health. A year after coming back to work full time and reclaiming my health I realized this is not where I should be. So I left my position…not sure what I would be doing next. I kept my mind and heart open and started building a career on things I love to do. I teach skiing part time in Pennsylvania and part time in Colorado in the winter. In the summer I work for a company in the Delaware Water National Park that sponsors Road Scholar programs, Educational travel and learning vacations. This has opened up a whole new career opportunities for me guiding hiking, biking and river trips. I decided I want to help people stay healthy and active and live life to the fullest. I recently finished a 200 hour yoga teaching training certification and plan to incorporate that into my skiing and guiding.

When I left my job I was not sure of my direction, but as I keep my mind open to new adventures, new doors keep opening for me. I believe that being a Trail Walking Ambassador for Tubbs will open another opportunity for me to help people enjoy the outdoors in the winter. I have met a lot of people over the summer that would like to do more recreation outside in the winter but can’t afford or maybe afraid of skiing. I think snowshoeing is for everyone, it is simple and inexpensive and can be done most anywhere there is snow. I love doing the hiking trips and it would be great to do some of the same hikes with snowshoes. Maybe Road Scholars will start a snowshoeing program too!

Pine Forests with Stark Contrasts

Becca, Backcountry Ambassador

The only sound I could hear was the thump of my snowshoes flipping up powder onto the backs of my legs, and the rhythm of my breath, sending clouds of air from my mouth into the winter scene around me. Only one more big uphill push and then we would be at the forest service cabin the group would call home for the next days. Wyoming winters can feel long and desperate if you don’t get outside, and a friend had offered me a pair of snowshoes for the season in an effort to get us exploring the trails that we usually only saw during the summer months. When we got to the cabin, the snowshoes were stacked outside, socks sat by the wood stove to dry and additional layers of down were piled on.

Despite growing up in Colorado, I’ve never considered myself a winter person until I lived in Wyoming, which by pure nature of the long cold spells, coerced me into having to find additional sources of exercise other than rock climbing and summer backpacking. Also, being a photographer and writer, there was something really romantic to me about hiking through the pine forests with stark contrasts of snow layers.

That night at the cabin, I put on every layer in my backpack, packed a thermos of cider and strapped on the snowshoes to go hike and find a good place to take photos of the stars. The Milky Way was out, and sit right above a frozen field down the hill. After shooting a couple photos, I raced back inside to join the rest of the girls for marshmallows roasted in the wood stove.

I think the most memorable part of the trip to the forest cabin, tucked away in the Snowy Mountains of Wyoming, was that it was the first time I realized I loved winter. Snowshoes made the backcountry accessible in the way that I loved- through walking – and really opened my eyes to the options beyond spending a lot of money on ski passes and lift tickets.

Now I live in Montana, where the winters are just as long (but much less windy) and I’ve used snowshoes as a means to get to ice climbing spots, my favorite forest service cabins, and to take photographs of winter activities.

A Snowy Engagement

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Jill, Day Hiking Ambassador

As we stepped onto the northbound trailhead of the Sandia Crest it felt like we were greeting an old friend. We have hiked countless trails throughout the Cibola National Forest over many years, but this was our first time setting foot into the forest wearing snowshoes. Having only become avid snowshoers over the past few years, we were excited to see what the mountains in our backyard had to offer. The first fifteen minutes of steps were filled with noise and congestion on the trail between cross country skiers and snowshoers who were making their way to or from the trailhead. Then moments and a mile later there is was…the stillness…the peace and calm of the forest enveloped in the magic of snow. Bliss. The mountain’s crest wore a white flawless coat made from millions of snowflake diamonds reflecting from the afternoon’s sun. Above me were towering forest pines dwarfed with 8 inches of snow, quietly groaning under the weight as the wind forced them to sway into a slow dance. From the dancing branches of the pines snow flurries waltzed wildly in the air landing upon our hair. The feeling of experiencing this snowscape was whimsical, infinite, and free because snow never falls the same way twice, nor the same depth, nor with the same snowflakes.

Pausing to take it all in we decided to take a short break with a cup of hot lavender tea from our thermos with a dash of snow for flavor. Unable to sit or maneuver our feet on the narrow packed trail we decided to rest our poles against a fallen tree as we stood in place taking in the scent of lavender and a lungful of mountain air. Beaming with the feeling of awe in this enchanting place I reached for Paul’s hand to hold and share this moment that required no words. In taking his hand I immediately felt something foreign that was round, cold, and made of metal. He squeezed my hand tight and my heart dropped. He turned towards me and by some miracle of balance and agility he got down on one knee wearing his 34 inch snowshoes and asked “Jill, Will you marry me?”

Meet Our 2014/15 Ambassador Team

New Tubbs Ambassadors
Proudly introducing the 2014/15 Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador Team! From Washington to New Mexico, and Ontario to New York, our Ambassadors include the best bunch of backcountry, day hiking, trail walking and family adventurers out there.

 

BACKCOUNTRY
Maciej  Seattle, WA
Tim  Lino Lake, MN
Terry  Arlington, WA
Brooke  Salt Lake City, UT
Landon  Orem, UT
Becca  Bozeman, MT

 

DAY HIKING
Kathy  Cañon City, CO
Jan & Kelly  Eagle, CO
Michelle  Burnstown, ON
Rich  Winooski, VT
Eric  Rochester, NY
Brent & Dorian North Vancouver, BC
Kim  Traverse City, MI
Jill  Cedar Crest, NM

 

TRAIL WALKING
Jody  Puyallup, WA  
Bill Dillon, CO
Sandy  Walnutport, PA
Susie  Beavercreek, OR

 

FAMILY
John  North Bend, WA
Martha  Cromwell, CT
Jen Andover, MA
Jeremy  Calgary, AB

 

We can’t wait for the snow to start falling, and their snowshoeing fun to begin!

 

 

Ambassador Profile: Jody

Jody_Ambassador

Where do you live?
Puyallup, WA

Top 3 things we should know about you?
1. In the past 4 years, I have photographed Romps in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia
2. I donated a kidney to one of my cousins in Minnesota in 2012
3. I love to travel and visit new and exciting places.

Favorite aspect of snowshoeing?
Getting to explore “off trail”

Favorite drink while snowshoeing?
Hot chocolate

Favorite trail snack?
Trail mix (as long as it has a bit of chocolate in it)

Dream snowshoe trip?
Taking my cousins in Minnesota snowshoeing

Ambassador Profile: Martha

Martha_Ambassador

Where do you live?
Cromwell, CT

Top 3 things we should know about you?
1. I love planning family adventures
2. Known as the one that always leaves people laughing when I go
3. Love to cook and try new recipes—#1 Crockpot fan!

Favorite aspect of snowshoeing?
An activity my whole family enjoys doing together.

Favorite drink while snowshoeing?
Gatorade and juice boxes for the wee ones.

Favorite trail snack?
Sweet and salty trail mix.

Dream snowshoe trip?
To return to Canadian Rockies/Glacier National Park where my grandparents took me as a child.

Anything else we should know?
Beyond thankful for this opportunity to join the Tubbs team. Have to also thank my mom who introduced me to the world of snowshoeing and now I can share it with my husband and children!