BEST IN SNOW: Photo Contest

April 21st, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

Share photos from your adventures on Tubbs Snowshoes this season for a chance to win one of five prizes including a pair of snowshoes, gaiters, or 3-piece poles.

ENTER TWO WAYS: 1) Share your photo on Instagram and tag @tubbssnowshoes OR 2) Post your photo to Tubbs Facebook wall, www.facebook.com/tubbssnowshoes. Five (5) pictures with the most “Likes” will win one of five prizes including a pair of snowshoes, gaiters, or 3-piece poles.

*Contest runs from April 22nd – May 5th. Contest open to US residents only, with exception of FL, NY and RI. See full Rules and Regulations.

Better Photos in the Snow

April 21st, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

 
Learn a few tips and techniques to snap better photos while having fun in the snow!

ADJUST WHITE BALANCE
Some cameras have a “snow” setting that automatically adjusts the setting for snowy conditions, but for those with manual controls adjust your white balance until the snow on your screen looks white, rather than blue.

LIGHT
While snow creates bright, light-filled photos, sometimes it can create too much and wash-out your favorite shots. Try turning on your flash to fill the dark areas with light in order to create a better balance.

CONTRAST
Fields of white make a great backdrop to dark and bright colors. Use this to your advantage, as your subject will pop against the stark background, even when a small part of the image.

TIMING
Do you want to capture the snow falling or Dad coming down the hill on a sled? With quick action items like snow falling and Dad sledding, be sure to increase the shutter speed to capture the perfect moment.

DRAMA
With the dramatic contrast that snow creates, try to increase it even more by turning your photos black and white!

And a few tips from expert photographers that shoot Tubbs Snowshoes, Ember Photography:

What is the most difficult part of photographing in the snow, and how do you make up for it?
Snow is bright, and it’s reflected light can often trick your camera into thinking that it is even brighter than it really is. Thus, your camera’s built in-light meter will automatically underexpose most images of snowy scenes, to make up for this perceived brightness, and your images will feature dark or grey snow tones…when they should be white. To solve this, you need to increase the relative exposure settings on your camera (“stop-up”) to capture more natural, white snow. Interestingly, the more cloudy or dim the snowy scene is, the more you need to compensate and “stop-up”.

What are the best subjects for photographing in the snow?
We love capturing movement and relatively fast action in the snow, whether it’s a downhill skier blasting through deep powder, or the wind swirling plumes of freshly fallen snow into the air along a mountain ridge or tree top. 

What makes a great photograph in the snow?
Some of our favorite snowy images involve the dramatic use of winter unique light. Scenes of people sihlouetted along a mountain ridge with snow blowing the sun streaking through from behind are hard to beat. We’re also big fans of images that capture the simple beauty and quiet of the winter landscape. 

*all photos featured in this blog were photographed by Ember Photography.

The Door of the Country and The Lake in Between

April 17th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

 
Rich K., Day Hiking Ambassador

Wind dominates the clearing, and the Champlain Valley drops out below.

This is the top of mount Philo, a one thousand foot mound of granite that rises over the lakeside town of Charlotte, Vermont. Beneath a quick and shifting sky the cold cobalt of March is being overtaken by April’s lavender haze. Winter is ending, but not without a late snowfall. Kristin and I have taken advantage of the new snow for a midday sojourn up the mountain.

We lean into the wind to gaze from the overlook, and what the view lacks in altitude it makes up for in drama. The mountain abruptly plunges into the surrounding farmland, some of the only flat land to be found in Vermont. The fields of Charlotte stretch out before us and terminate at the Lake Champlain waterline. Beyond the lake the Adirondacks of New York dominate the opposite shore.

Lake Champlain. On the western shore the Mohawk of the Iroquois League called it “Caniaderi Guarunte, meaning “Door of the Country.” On the eastern shore the Abenaki called it “Petonbowk” or “Bitawbagok,” depending upon who you asked; both words translate to “The Lake In Between.” In 1609 the French explorer Samuel de Champlain settled the issue and, in the tradition of European exploration, named the lake for himself.

The lake remains frozen over, and the new snow makes it look like a bed of salt. It is a fitting illusion. As the glaciers receded between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago, the melted water formed a brackish sea, the Champlain Sea, filling this entire valley and spilling throughout present-day Quebec. Whale bones discovered north of here in the Plains of Abraham serve as proof of this period. When he wrote his own name on his map, Champlain the explorer was surely unaware that this geologic event would likewise bear his moniker.

The waves of that inland sea rolled across the lowland now in view and lapped against the slopes of Mount Philo. But it was hardly the first time this mountain had seen salt water. It is common in Vermont to call all of the state’s mountains “Green Mountains,” and the bias is clear; the French translation “Verd Mont” is where the state takes its name. Yet Mount Philo is actually a northern point of the Taconic Range, geologically distinct from the range of the Green Mountains that runs north-south along the spine of Vermont. The Taconics lie to the west and parallel to the Greens. They began forming 450 million years ago as a  prehistoric ocean closed. The rock we stand upon is the upthrust floor of that ocean, and it is still possible to find the imprints of trilobites and other long-extinct sea creatures fossilized on the granite mountaintops. Mount Philo was part of a range as high as the Rockies, but the stone eroded quickly. 75 million years later, the eroded sediment of Philo and the other Taconics would be used again in the building of the Greens. In this way the Greens are the progeny of the Taconic Mountains.

This is an old mountain, and it offers an excellent view. But I would be less likely to come here were it not for the winter. Founded in 1924, Mount Philo State Park is Vermont’s oldest. Far from protecting it, this status has merely expedited its development. A well-maintained toll road leads all the way to the top, where are provided barbeque pits, lean-tos, bathroom facilities and showers.  In the comfort of climate-controlled interiors four-wheeled explorers can drive to the summit, cook hamburgers over bagged charcoal, and drive back down again, all with a minimum of footsteps. For these individuals nature is experienced only from behind metal and glass, and is available only for a fee.

The development of nature happens in the name of making it accessible to all. In the confused era of the automobile access has become conflated with drivability. Freedom to experience nature has come to mean the freedom to experience it without hardship, and so nature is diluted with the conveniences of civilization. This is done with the objective of maximizing the number of people who experience nature, and certainly more people have been to the top of Mount Philo than would have without a gravel road. But this approach is like a chef who attempts to feed more people by adding water to a soup; more bowls can be filled, but there is less substance for each person, and both quality and balance are altogether lost.

But in the snow the mountain is remade. The road is impassible, the showers are padlocked, and the barbeques are filled in. Mount Philo tops out in the transition zone from the lower-altitude hardwoods to the evergreens, and the absence of leaves has left the mountaintop inhospitable and exposed. All the better. There will be no barbeques today; there is only the rush of the landscape and the roar of the wind.

I never cease to be amazed by the capacity of snow to alter a landscape. I am seeing Mount Philo as it was meant to be seen, this mother-mountain to the beloved Greens, rejuvenated by cold and restored by storm. This mountain was here before animal life crawled out of the oceans. This mountain will be here long after the road. And for the time in between, there will be winters to snowshoe and remember what this mountain is.

Lanham Lake Adventure for Three

April 16th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

 
Maciej M., Backcountry Ambassador

It was late February.  I was getting ready to take my Companion Rescue Class at the Steven’s Pass. This was supposed to be a packed day with a 6 hour class in the morning followed by a snowshoe trip in the afternoon. My good friend Evelyn and I left at the crack of dawn (well, not exactly) but early enough – we thought, to make it to the Ski Patrol station at the pass on time. The first part of the journey was uneventful although we were aware of the snowy weather at the higher elevations. We were golden till we reached Sultan and then things started to be a little hairy. A cavalcade of cars suddenly appeared in front of us, everyone driving at the maximum speed of 20 miles an hour. The wet snow was falling more and more “aggressively”. The 2-hour trip to the summit suddenly became much more challenging than it usually is. We needed to strategize. The chances of making it to the class on time were getting slimmer and slimmer. Additionally, the parking situation at Steven’s is usually horrendous, especially on the powder days like today. When we finally reached the summit, I was already about 20 minutes late for my class and there was absolutely no available parking. In a split of a second (and without stopping the car out of the fear that we will get stuck on the now icy and snow covered highway) we made a decision to go directly to the Nordic Center and plan our snowshoe outing there. It took us another 15 minutes to get there and we were one of the first cars to arrive. The parking lot must have been ploughed in the morning, but the snow was falling so fast that it covered all the previous tire tracks. I found a good and strategic spot that would allow us to get out of here in the afternoon. While Evelyn was changing into a waterproof gear, I decided to put the chains on my tires. It is better to be prepared now than worry about it when there is several more inches of snow to deal with. I had some practice with the chains earlier this winter in British Columbia and it did not take me much time to get the car snow ready!

Our initial plan was to go to Lanham Lake in the Wenatchee National Forest. I found this route in Dan Nelson’s great book “Snowshoe Routes – Washington”. It is a moderately steep, 3.2 mile trail with 1100 feet of elevation gain. The highest point is at the 4100 feet. Equipped with all the necessary provisions and waterproof shells we started our ascent. I was extra excited for two reasons; firstly, I was here with my best friend Evelyn. She and I have never snowshoed together. Secondly, I was also here with a tiny Baby Boy who would join us soon but for now he was hiding, well protected by Evelyn’s motherly love. It was truly a snowshoeing adventure for three!  When I finally meet Him in June, I will make sure to let him know that he was snowshoeing in the Washington backcountry at the age of 5 months!

Another reason to be excited was the fact that I was trying my new pair of Tubbs FLEX ALP snowshoes. Great new features of these shoes made the climb so much easier! While the weather was not best for driving, it was actually just perfect for snowshoeing. Huge snowflakes were coming down constantly, accumulating on surrounding trees and on us. The trail was becoming more and more difficult to find and we were progressing rather slowly. Once we reached the Lanham Creek, now completely enveloped in a snowy blanket, it became a little easier to follow the route. It was really steep at times but we were not feeling it, completely taken by the beauty of the surrounding snow-laden trees and the quiet solitude of the forest. We stopped frequently to take pictures and immortalize this somewhat unplanned early morning hike. After about an hour we have reached the lake, ringed with more large and old snow covered trees. It was perfectly still and there was nobody else there to spoil the moment. The snow never stopped falling.  We needed a shelter to stop for lunch. A little paranoid about the tree wells; we surveyed a few spots along the shore line. We identified a large, “spruce” looking tree with low branches touching the ground. The area next to the trunk was ice-solid and we decided to “camp” there. Home-made sandwiches, hot tea with raspberry juice and other delicacies emerged from our backpacks. It was a feast of sorts in a snowy, peaceful wilderness. We were looking at the lake in front of us and the flanks of Jim Hill Mountain ahead. Should we keep going? It was a truly tempting idea but considering the conditions, the avalanche danger was too high and we decided to leave this part of the Cascades for future exploration.

We followed the same route on a descent, given the fast accumulating snow and rapid disappearance of identifiable landmarks, including the Lanham Creek. We reached the car in great spirits, happy that we discovered a new snowshoeing destination and surely a great summer hike as well. Thank you Mr. Nelson for introducing us to this magical slice of the Pacific Northwest!

Lanham Creek buried in snow

 

Loving my new Tubbs FLEX ALP Snowshoes!

 

Evelyn and I at the lake

 

Me getting ready to cross the lake, Jim Hill mountain ahead

 

Teaching the Girl Scouts How to Snowshoe

April 16th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

 
John S., Family Ambassador

As a “Family Ambassador” it should come as no surprise that I have kids. The two oldest are both Girl Scouts. Since their Daisy days I’ve been waiting for the signal that we’ll be heading out on scouting expeditions to learn about survival and adventure. But those days never came. Instead, there were lots of crafts and other lessons.

Lucky for them, I don’t give up easily. And I can get large quantities of snowshoes from Tubbs. So come one, come all to an introduction to snowshoeing outing!

I planned a very short, easy trip just over the mountains. We lucked out with what was probably the last mid-elevation snow of the year so instead of rain we were treated to flakes that made everyone’s eyes sparkle. Amidst the falling snow Mrs. Ambassador and I helped the scouts (and some of their siblings) get into snowshoes. Most of them opted for FLEX Jr, but a few of the older kids went with the Storm. The adults were all outfitted in a variety of FLEX models from the TRK to the ALP.

Before we left the parking lot at the base of the mountain there was concern about how snowshoes worked. I anticipated I’d need to give a quick primer on their use, but before I could they were off. The girls led the way and the adults chased after them. No lesson needed. After all, it’s just walking.

Our destination was a small (mostly) frozen lake. In the summer, there are picnic tables and barbecues near the shore, but they were buried under the snow. We found one and set up our “base camp” there.

We talked about the different parts of the snowshoe (one of my Ambassadorial duties) and the dangers they could face in the snow. While I was describing a tree well and how it could trap a snowshoer one of the kids stepped a little too close. I couldn’t have set it up better. The kids took off their snowshoes and postholes a bit, then we dug snow caves. We cheated and used the pre-made void under the picnic table to shorten the exercise.

As we returned to the trailhead, the sun came out for a final lesson. Never forget your sunglasses in the car! We squinted our way back into the trees.

All the kids and adults had a great time and I expect we’ll do it again next year. And even though I have a pretty decent selection of snowshoes in my garage, we couldn’t have done it without Tubbs’ help. We have a virtual merit badge with your name on it!

Thank you, from Sacramento Inner City Outings

April 14th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

 
Valerie E., Sacramento Inner City Outings Trip Leader

Thank you to Tubbs for a wonderful winter of fun and adventures!!

Sacramento Inner City Outings went into the winter season very excited to use our new fleet of Tubbs snowshoes, thanks to Tubbs’ generous “Get outdoors” program. While California’s drought limited the number of snow trips we could do this winter (we had to reschedule all trips due to lack of snow), we did get 56 kids out on 3 different trips, partnering with the Sacramento Food Bank, Connections for Youth (a foster-youth program), and Grant High School’s “GEO” program.  Over half of these kids had never been in the snow before, and all kids had a blast and are eager to get back to the snow!

All of our trips were at Echo Summit- which has a trailhead accessing a nice loop of trails, allowing for short hikes to some great areas for snow play, as well as ambitious hikes up to ridges with extraordinary views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains.  This site was chosen for its lodge at the trailhead- the importance of indoor bathrooms and a place to warm up cannot be stressed enough, when exposing kids to their first snow adventure.  As an extra bonus, the trailhead area has some nice picnic tables for lunch and excellent sledding. All three trips spent about 2/3 of the day snowshoeing, followed by lunch, and then a couple of hours of sledding. While most kids were initially wary of the snowshoeing plan (thinking it was our way of torturing them before they could go sledding), for most of the kids, it wound up being their favorite part of the day.  Snowshoeing provided them with a taste of the solitude, peace, adventure and fun that can be attained by getting out into nature.  The kids reveled in the freedom – when it was just us in boundless snow, the kids could let loose and have all-out snowball fights (usually the highlight of the day). Many kids loved the ability to explore on their own—testing to see how steep of a hill (or boulder!) the snowshoes could get them up, jumping into snowdrifts, and puffing their way up the next hill to get an even better view.  Other kids enjoyed the peace of the outdoors- enjoying a silent celebration of their efforts while taking in the view of Lake Tahoe.  And for other kids, the physical challenge was the highlight of the day- they were really proud of accomplishing a climb they didn’t think they could do, huffing through their first trip at high elevation.

As trip leaders, what we learned from our snow trips:

1. Have enough chaperones to split up into groups. Some kids will want to play in the snow 500 yards from the trailhead and are having so much fun, that you don’t want to interrupt it. But others are really eager to push their limits and climb as far as they can get to. Our ideal trips had enough leaders where we all started out snowshoeing together, but then broke into as many as 4 groups, depending on the kids’ speed and perseverance, as well as their interest in hiking vs. snowplay. Lots of chaperones also helps get the snowshoes on the kids quickly, which is critical when you have 40+ antsy feet waiting on you! (Tubbs “stretchy” bindings were awesome for getting snowshoes on quickly!! We quickly fell in love with them!)

2. You can’t bring enough gloves- kids playing in snow will get wetter than seems possible.

3. Inner city kids have no idea what snowshoes are—when you’re discussing the plans with them before the trip, they all assume you’re talking about boots- bringing a pair along to show them will prepare them for what’s ahead. Related to that, once the kids are on the snow, they take for granted the buoyancy the snowshoes provide. Letting them take off the snowshoes and seeing how hard it is to walk (either due to sinking or icy conditions) is a great way for them to appreciate them.

4. Snowshoes are a great equalizer in snowball fights. The more aggressive kids wind up tripping themselves, allowing more of an equal playing field.

5. Even with the lowest snowfall on record, kids will have a blast in the snow!

The kids, and all of the volunteers of Sacramento’s Inner City Outings are so grateful to Tubbs for the gift of these wonderful adventures! We’ll be taking as many trips as we can for many years to come! The snow trips are by far the most requested by our collaborating agencies, so with better snow conditions, we’ll be able to get far more kids out in future years. Rumors are that next year we’ll have epic snowfall in California- allowing us to get many more snow trips in!

 

Tubbs Snowshoes: Don’t leave home without them

April 11th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

 
John S., Family Ambassador

Truth be told, I didn’t leave home without my Tubbs snowshoes. They were in the 50 pound bag of gear I checked on a flight from Seattle to Phoenix. Yes, Phoenix. As in Arizona.

The plan was to snowshoe/climb Humphrey’s Peak, the highest point in Arizona. It’s over 12,000 feet tall and is snow covered into April at least. After a few days doing warm-weather activities in the desert I was ready to get back into the snow.

Unfortunately, I didn’t trust my gut. My gut said, “Take the snowshoes at least as far as the trailhead (just north of Flagstaff).” Instead, I believed the rumors that the snow was thin and well consolidated. That was true for the first mile of the trail, but as soon as we deviated from the established route I was wishing for my snowshoes.

When you’re a lowlander like me the prospect of carrying an extra five pounds in snowshoes at 12,000 feet is daunting. However, that would have been nothing compared to the energy we wasted wallowing in the soft snow. Even though we traded the task of breaking trail, it was demoralizing work. By the time we hit the summit ridge we had barely enough left to claim the peak.

From now on, even if I think there’s a moderate or even a low probability I’ll need my Tubbs, I’ll pack them. Even if everyone else says I don’t need to.

Ambassador of the Quarter

April 7th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

Ambassador of the Quarter, Tim T., Backcountry Ambassador

Tim hails from Lino Lakes, Minnesota, an area that received more than their fair share of snow and below freezing temperatures this snowshoeing season. Not only is Tim an adventurous weekend backcountry explorer, but he also spends most of his weekends voluntarily guiding people in outside excursions ranging from hiking, to rafting, and of course, snowshoeing. Check out Tim’s Ambassador blogs below to read more about his amazing adventures!

Man snowshoeing on snow covered bridge

Man hanging from basketball hoop with snowshoes on his feet and snow on the court

Tim T. Posing

A Wild Winter

April 7th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

 

Winter weather has been a wild one this 2013/2014 snowshoe season. From the Sierra Nevada’s draught, to a “Polar Vortex” taking three passes through the Midwest and East Coast, the US has endured a winter for the ages.

A cold front, which usually remains on the Canadian side of the border, dipped South, breaking record lows in the city aptly nicknamed “Hotlanta.” The media quickly dubbed this occurrence a “Polar Vortex.” In the opposing corner of the country, Alaska has endured much higher temperatures than average, resulting in low snow-pack and poor conditions for the annual Iditarod race.

 

Pictured: Tubbs Ambassador, Rich K., exploring his city on snowshoes

 

But enough from us, we wanted to hear what others thought about the 2013/2014 winter craziness. and here’s what they had to say:

Ambassador Michelle
“With …no new snow falling for what seemed forever, people became depressed, demoralized and moody…The winter darkness seemed gloomy without the soft blanket of white that normally covers the ground.”
 
Regional Sales Rep Bruce
“After the last two moderate winters, this year’s snowy weather was very welcome by my snowshoe accounts. Even today, I’m taking reorders for the current season. Many stores have run out of inventory and we still have great snow. Of course, the temperatures haven’t made for the most comfortable conditions. Spring snowshoeing anyone?”
 
Ambassador Brent
“In November we were treated to “almost feeling guilty” conditions to “where the heck is winter?” situations in December. As we watched the news with all the cold and snow elsewhere, I wore a Hawaiian shirt for Christmas lamenting the thin base so far this season.”
 
 

Pictured: Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador, Brent, takes advantage of the snow when it finally arrives in Vancouver, B.C. by building a snow cave.

 

Gem of a Mountain

April 7th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

 

 
Brent & Dorian, Day Hiking Ambassadors

What a treat it is to be able to mix day job responsibilities with snowshoeing adventures. Such was the case recently when we had the occasion to travel to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and more specifically Lake Louise.

This gem of a mountain lake is nestled in scenery most spectacular about a half hour from Banff, Alberta. There are plenty of ski hills in this part of the world, and plenty of high elevation open snow. We had the good fortune of catching an amazing few days of deep champagne powder. We did day outings as well as at night. Lake Louise was frozen solid, so we had the pleasure of blazing a trail straight across it. It is a bit creepy to be out in the middle of a lake hoping for the best, but all the local experts said we were good to go. We were both on our FLEX ALPs, but probably should have brought our bigger Mountaineers. It was more of a compact packing decision. We did some bushwacking in snow well past our knees. Coming from the coastal mountains, we were in snowshoe heaven. The tree bombs were out of control, and every so often when we were in the forest we would get dumped on. We definitely bumped a few trees to get the action started. Birds were eating from Dorians hand, and we came across a beautiful blue ice fall. We were sad to have to leave. Parks Canada had a “name the snowshoe trail” contest for 2 new trails, and we submitted names for them both. The winners will be announced soon, so we will let everyone know if we came up big in the next couple of weeks. A lot of names were probably submitted, but we thought long and hard about the ones we chose. Banff and Lake Louise were established about a hundred years ago when the train tracks were being pushed westward. Beautiful hotels were built in stunning spots along the way. If you have time to do any research on the net about this part of the world, you will probably like what you see. We can’t wait to go back.