Countdown to Winter

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John, Family Ambassador 

From the time the last flake falls in the Spring I dream about the magical moment of the first snow of the Fall. It’s a long wait.

Through the end of Spring and into Summer I don’t miss the falling snow because there’s still plenty of snow on the ground. Many of the mid-elevation hikes don’t fully melt out until June and that’s about when the higher elevation trailheads open. (You can snowshoe at Mount Rainier’s Sunrise and Paradise areas to celebrate the first weekend of Summer.)

As the Summer sun beats down, though, the snow becomes harder to find. In July, the snow is confined to north-facing slopes and shaded valleys. By August, it’s only at high elevation and shaded from the sun. By September, the snow has retreated to its fortresses high in the mountains.

We can see the snow and ice glistening on the volcanos, most notably Mt. Rainier in Washington and Mt. Hood in Oregon, but getting to it is another story. What was a drive up in June is now a serious expedition. And what you get to isn’t the fluffy white of our dreams. It’s hard and dirty and unforgiving.

October is the hardest month for me. The rain returns. 38 degrees and raining. So close to snow, but not quite. If it does snow at the summit of a local peak it’s white for only a day or two. Then the next slightly-above-freezing rain comes along and washes it away. Worst is when we have a great weekend of snow followed by a warm Chinook storm. It comes out of the warm Pacific and brings 40 degree rain, melting all the fresh snow and flooding the lowlands.

By the end of November the snow starts to stick around on the peaks. As I drive out of the mountains to the city for work I see the snow line and I try to gauge how long it would take to hike that high.

But it’s not until December that we have real snow in the mountains. It can amount to feet upon feet. In the 1998-1999 season Mt. Baker received a world-record 95 feet of snow. Paradise on Mount Rainier gets about 53 feet of snow each year. Even lowly Snoqualmie Pass, at only 3,000 feet, gets 33 feet of snow each year.

Now, finally, our snow is here and it’s time to put the last few months of planning time to good use. We’ll shake the sand out of our snowshoes and chase after surplus military tanks in the woods, search for frozen lakes, pursue amazing views, and watch avalanches (from a safe distance). We’ll also take the opportunity to fight breast cancer at the Romp to Stomp.

We know that Winter in the Northwest is a fleeting season so we won’t waste it. In fact, I don’t know why I’m still typing this instead of heading out the door. The mountains (and the snow) are calling. (You know the rest.)

Five ways to make a family snowshoe adventure a success

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Jeremy & Sharon, Family Ambassadors

Getting out there and being active with little ones is always important. In the winter, that can mean getting out when it is very cold. Even though snowshoeing is fun, and our kids enjoy it, they still sometimes resist our plans. With a bit of planning though, we work hard to make sure every adventure is a fun one for everyone involved! Here are five ways to inject a little bit more fun into your family adventures:

  1. Turn your hike into a crazy adventure. Make up a story. What mission are you on as you set out. Perhaps you are in search of a yeti, or maybe an ice princess. Use popular stories to create the plot of your story, and build up some of the characters. Let the kids help fill in the details. Many hikes we take with the boys, we create stories like this, and for months after, the boys will tell us more adventures about the characters we created. At the first, “I’m tired”, or “are we there yet” start into the next details. Incorporate a bit of a cliff hanger. Ensure your kids play some of the characters. They will offer up new ideas and keep moving in the process. Use elements in the hike in your story. Pick a tree down the path as a milestone within the story and finish the next details when you arrive at the tree.
  1. Bring along a special snack. We don’t eat a lot of candy in our house, so when we bring along something unique on a hike, the kids are happy and excited by this special treat. We’ll also bake special squares and cookies that offer good nutrition mixed in with a few chocolate chips. Whatever it is, it is always something that they are only getting because of the hike. Oftentimes, we will stop by a local deli that sells imported chocolates and candies. The boys are excited to pick something new and know that they don’t get it until their next outdoor adventure. We often bring along a hot drink as well. Our family favorite is apple cider of some variety.
  1. Action shots. Come up with unique ideas for pictures. Have them run so you can catch them kicking up snow with their snowshoes. Have them make a funny face, or an action pose. Ask them for ideas on a fun picture. They get to be creative and you get to capture some great shots. The pictures can match the stories you are telling too!
  1. Sing a song. When all else fails, we often sing. It might not seem like much, but it keeps the kids moving. We sing all sorts of songs. Some are left over from my childhood days, some they know and some we just make up. Sometimes we just change the words to match our situation. When climbing up a hill, we nearly always sing about “this is the hill that never ends…”. Try and lighten up the hike or get through the harder parts with some whimsical words. A quick google search should inspire you for other hiking song ideas. And kids love to sing, so embrace that love.
  1. Choose your route carefully. When hiking with kids, it is especially important to include hikes that are interesting. Kids love bridges, waterfalls, ravines, etc. Include a hike that is high on things to see and do along the way. And choose the distance carefully. Kids are often capable of a lot more than we give them credit for, but on a cold day, remember that the weather may take quite a bit more out of them than you think.

Heading out for a snowshoe adventure should be fun. With a little extra planning, the kids will be all the more excited about the adventures. Take time afterwards to go over the adventure. What did everyone enjoy most. Are there any learning opportunities for next time? Every hike is a new set of memories, so take time to remember just what an adventure you had!

Arapahoe Basin

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Bill, Trail Walking Ambassador

I just got home from work, a bit early but feeling whipped. I headed out about 5:45 this morning and drove 20 minutes to Arapahoe Basin ski resort, at the base on the Continental Divide here in Northern Colorado. The Basin starts at 10,800 foot elevation and tops out at just over 13,000. I put on my Tubbs snowshoes, grabbed my poles, and headed up the High Noon run just as the darkness was beginning to break. There were a few other “uphillers” as we are called, but they were all on skis with skins, I was the only one on snowshoes. High Noon starts climbing quickly, and since everyone else was headed straight up the slope, I did the same. If you think you are in shape, try “uphilling” on a ski slope at 11,000 feet elevation! Although I couldn’t keep up with those on skis and skins, I kept going, telling myself that all the others were at least 30 years younger than me. (I later found out two of them were at least 10 years older) I made it to the mid-mountain restaurant, Black Mountain Lodge, in about 45 minutes, where I took a welcome rest (on the deck, the restaurant doesn’t open until 9:30) and enjoyed a cup of coffee I had brought along in my pack. I took a few pictures, including a couple of myself by setting my camera on 10 second delay, and then headed up the mountain again.

My goal for this first ascent had been to make it to the mid-mountain lodge, but since I was there and feeling fine, I decided to head up a bit further. I continued to about 2/3 of the way up the mountain before heading back down, mostly because I knew I had to get to work by 10. I headed down the ski runs, staying on the edge where the snow was soft and I could float on my shoes as I descended the mountain. I made it down in about half the time it took to go up, and I rewarded myself with a hot chocolate in the base lodge when I finished. I drove the 20 minutes back home, showered, and was in my office by 10. What a great way to start the day. However, as the day continued I realized I had given my legs quite a good workout, and by the time I got home, I knew I was whipped. I also know that I will do this again, perhaps once or twice a week, and will leave a bit earlier and make it to the top.

Being outdoors, on my shoes, enjoying the solitude and the beauty of the mountains when most people are still sleeping, now that is why I love living where I do. Thanks Tubbs for letting me share some of my experiences this winter, as well as a few photos along the way……

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Gear up and get outdoors – Embrace Winter!

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Kim, Day Hiking Ambassador

Whether you were looking forward to it or not this year, winter roared in like a lion across much of the US compliments of a deep plunging arctic air mass dumping epic amounts of lake effect snow across much Michigan as well as upstate New York. This early start to the winter season caught many off guard and unprepared not to mention bringing with it the onslaught of non-winter lovers complaints about the bitter cold and having to shovel all of that snow!

Being a new Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador this year, of course, I was ecstatic! I began gearing up and getting ready for the first of many day hiking treks into the winter wonderland of Northern Michigan. My excitement growing with each and every new inch of snow that fell and began to pile up in my driveway and yard.

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Now one of the things that I love most about snowshoeing is that it allows me to continue to get outdoors during the long winter months, exploring my favorite trails and maintaining the fitness and health that I had gained during in the warmer seasons. To be able to continue to grow stronger and healthier while making new memories with my family has been a wonderful thing. Sharing those adventures and inspiring others to embrace the winter and do the same is even better! The more the merrier!

For those of you who have never tried snowshoeing before, I can totally understand how it may be a bit intimidating. Being a born and raised Michigander, I must admit I had never strapped on a pair of snowshoes until just three years ago. Yep! I know, hard to believe, right?! Well let me tell you from my own personal experience, the hardest part really is getting started. First of all, and most importantly, you need to be prepared and gear up. To get you off on the right foot (or snowshoe ;) I have compiled a list of essential gear and additional tips to help get you started.

Essential Gear

  • Snowshoes
  • Poles
  • Daypack
  • Headlamp for low light or nighttime
  • Sunglasses or Goggles
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Food and Water
  • First Aid Kit
  • Pocket Knife
  • Fully Charged Cell phone for emergencies!

What to Wear

  • Base layer top/bottom: Moisture wicking, breathable materials (avoid cotton!)
  • Mid Layer top/bottom: An insulating (fleece type) material
  • Outer Layer top/bottom: A waterproof, windproof shell type jacket
  • Warm lined hat
  • Warm gloves with glove liners for extreme cold
  • Gaiters (optional)
  • Waterproof insulated hiking type boots
  • Warm hiking socks

Just for FUN!

  • Camera
  • Thermos type insulated beverage vessel or flask filled with your favorite hot drink!
  • Bring the dog! Our pets love to spend time with us and love the outdoors, plus it’s a great way to exercise him (and you. ;)

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Once you have the essential gear in place, learning to snowshoe is easier than you think. Most people will tell you that if you can walk, you can snowshoe! For your first steps in snowshoes you may want to start by strapping on a pair of snowshoes and getting comfortable walking around in them in the comfort of your own backyard before you head out onto the trails. Keep it simple! Stay on the easier to maneuver flatter terrain while practicing the “snowshoe stride”, a slightly wider and longer stride to keep from hitting the snowshoes together. Use your poles to guide you and to help maintain your balance until you are comfortable with the new stride.

Next, try walking up and down some smaller hills. Don’t let the hills intimidate you. Most snowshoes have sturdy metal claw type teeth on the bottom called Crampons when tipped forward they dig into and grab the snow and ice to assist you in climbing up and down steep slopes without slipping. You may also use nearby branches and trees to help guide you. Since you are walking with an unfamiliar stride you may feel your hips and groin muscles ache after the first few times out. But remember that is the physical fitness and health that you have been seeking! Stay with it! With each new adventure out you will become stronger and will be able to go further and longer in no time at all.

The winter sport of snowshoeing has increased in popularity over the years and for many great reasons. It’s easy to learn and most anyone can do it! It requires less gear and is overall much less expensive than other winter sports, plus it’s a winter sport that you can do in your our own back yard. There is no travel or expensive passes or fees required, unless of course you venture out into a fee required area such as a State Park or the National Park trail system. The DNR office, National Park Service as well as your local Convention and Tourist Bureau will be more than happy to guide you with information regarding snowshoe trails and fees in your area. You may also locate snowshoe trails online at: http://snowshoes.com. Also, if you need help deciding which snowshoe is right for you, check out the Tubbs Snowshoes “Snowshoe Finder” tool online: http://tubbssnowshoes.com/snowshoe-finder

So there you have it! Let’s get geared up and get ready for an amazing snowshoe season! It’s time to get outdoors, explore, be fit and healthy and more importantly let’s embrace the winter this year!

Happy Trails!

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Buffalo just got buried by 8 feet of snow.

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Eric, Day Hiking Ambassador

#WinterIsComing, as another polar vortex plummets the lower 48 into some early winter fun and yet here I sit…… Waiting. In one of the snowiest cities in all of the United States, people can’t enjoy the snow. Buffalo just got buried by 8 feet of snow. So much that the snowshoes actually would have done nothing at all and everyone was stuck in their home and trying at a loss to keep up with the rapid snowfall.

Winter tends to be my favorite season. I embrace the change, the cold, and the opportunity to be out on the trails with solitude that is rarely found in the other seasons. The song birds are gone, the bugs are gone, most “normal” people are tucked away inside watching netflix.  People will ask “why in the world do you want to go out in this weather.”

I usually follow up with some lame line about how television is boring, or a cliche “I will rest when i’m dead.” But the reality of it It seems simple for me. The stunning beauty of the woods in the winter can’t be matched. The photos and the time to ourselves in the woods we call home will always have me #WelcomingWinter.

The other side of things is that winter can be brutally dangerous. As an outdoorsmen, trail runner, and avid snowshoe hiker it is important to know when mother nature is dishing out more than you can take. It is important to know when to hold em and know when to fold em.

This storm is settling, and with it comes opportunity to see what is out there and what will be left of the 8 feet after this weekends rains. Buffalo will dig out, assess the damage, recover and then get out there and enjoy it.

I will always love and have fun out in the snow, but it is always important to remember to be smart and be safe. Live to shoe another day!

Get the shovels ready – Get the snowshoes ready – Be smart be safe and have fun #WelcomingWinter.

A New Thanksgiving Day Tradition

Snowshoeing in the Northeast US

So grandma has the turkey in the oven, and all of the scrumptious sides are sliced, diced, and prepped for eating—so now what?! You could play dominoes with Aunt Frances, but she gets so competitive. You could go yell at the TV, watching football with Uncle Bob. OR you could embark on a brand new Thanksgiving Day tradition, a Turkey Trot on snowshoes with the family!

Leave grandma behind to tend to the basting, and Uncle Bob with his losing team. Grab the rest of your family and friends, slip into a pair of Tubbs Snowshoes and head outside! There are so many ways this new tradition will make your Thanksgiving better, but here are a few:

  1. You’ll get away from the smell of fresh apple pie and candied sweet potatoes—those taunting smells that coax you into the kitchen even when dinner isn’t ready for another two hours.
  2. You’ll get a great workout, and a jumpstart to burning off that extra side of gravy. Snowshoeing burns between 450-1000 calories per hour!
  3. You’ll spend family time together being active outside. Studies show that kids who are active with their families as children are more likely to become active adults.
  4. Best of all, you’ll return to a delicious meal with your loved ones.

With all of those benefits, who wouldn’t want to start a new Thanksgiving tradition? This year, pack your snowshoes to your family get-together and get outside!

 

Hoping, praying, and waiting to hit the mountain!

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Susie, Trail Walking Ambassador

Hoping, praying, and waiting to hit the mountain! Team Snow Wonder is heading for our first snowshoe trip of the season.

Mt. Hood, Oregon is looking white and ready for all us Tubbs Snowshoe groupies. Time for us to find our mittens and boots and head for the hills!

Welcoming Winter

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Although technically it is still Fall, snowflakes are falling around the US and Canada, which means snowshoeing season has arrived! Here at Tubbs Snowshoes we are Welcoming Winter!

Give us a shout and tell us how you Welcome Winter by posting on our Facebook page, tweeting at us on Twitter (@tubbssnowshoes), or tagging Tubbs on Instagram (@tubbssnowshoes). Be sure to use the hashtag #WelcomingWinter to share how you greet our favorite season of the year!

Check out some ways that our Ambassadors welcome winter below:

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Five Reasons to Snowshoe this Winter

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Landon, Backcountry Ambassador

I spend most of the year pounding the trails in worn out and beat up trail shoes as an ultra runner. However, as the daylight hours dissipate and my morning trails are touched gently by the frosty hand of autumn the bulk of my trail running takes on a new life; a different life; a winter life. While I love all that summer brings for my outdoor endeavors winter is my true escape from the rigors of daily life. While many dread the frigid cold and blowing snowstorms I look forward to the short cold days as a means of refueling and recharging.

Spending time deep in the mountains is a much different experience in the stillness of winter when compared with the excitement of summer. Trails generally crowded and busy during the warmer months become isolated and peaceful as many prefer to spend their time on the ski slopes or altogether indoors. With the right mindset and gear spending a day in the absolute stillness of winter is actually pretty easy, which is why I love the switch from summer trail running to winter snowshoeing.

If you haven’t tried snowshoeing make this your year, it’s time to change from your prior winter blunders (because if you weren’t snowshoeing it was a blunder) and hit the powdery trails on snowshoes. You’ll find a stillness and quietness that fresh snow brings that is surpassed by very few things. Getting started is relatively easy as well, and below are 5 reasons to get out snowshoeing this winter.

1. Snowshoeing is Cheap
Before you say, “Common, all gear is expensive,” hear me out. True, gear for any sports can be expensive, but lets just compare a set of ski’s, boots, bindings, poles and a lift ticket (even for just a day) all of which cost well over a thousand dollars, and in many cases more than double that, with a set of snowshoes and poles which are less than a couple hundred bucks in most cases.

There is generally no cost to hit the trails on snowshoes, unless you’re in a state park, national park, or other paid area. For me the simplicity of snowshoeing is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. All I need are my snowshoes, some warm clothes and a yummy snack to enjoy a great day in a winter wonderland.

2. Snowshoe Anywhere
Snowshoeing can be done from your backyard, to groom trails, and from fresh powder to steep backcountry climbs. The only limitation on where you can snowshoe is whether or not there is snow (sorry to my friends in my home region of the Sacramento Valley who never sees that powdery white stuff). Because you can snowshoe nearly anywhere there are myriad options for all sorts of snowshoeing preferences. Whether you prefer a Sunday afternoon nature snowshoe walk, or like a difficult multi-day trip in the backcountry and everything in between.

3. It’s a Killer Workout
“Sure, walking on big funky shoes on top of the snow is a ‘killer workout,’ yeah right!” you may be sarcastically commenting to yourself, but it’s true. An hour of snowshoeing on powder over rolling hills at a moderate pace can burn between 700 and 1000 calories compared to mountain biking on rolling terrain for an hour which burns about 550 calories. Give snowshoeing a shot, it takes some work, but you’ll likely not even realize you’re working out because of all the fun you’ll be having.

4. Take Your Friends
While many winter sports can be done with fiends it’s difficult to actually spend the day with those friends. Speeding down a black diamond slope on skis or snowboards is a total blast, don’t get me wrong, but laughing and joking with your buddies is pretty difficult. Snowshoeing is a great activity for friends and family alike. It’s easy to pack along your favorite hot drink in your favorite thermos and wander the woods with friends.

5. Blizzard Proof
While roads may shutdown because of heavy snowfall getting around on snowshoes is always a cinch. When the snow is falling hard and getting to work seems impossible just throw on your snowshoes and beat everyone to the office. Sure, a snow machine would be even easier, but take a look at number 1 and number 3 and the benefits of snowshoeing are pretty obvious.

So make it a point this winter to get out spend some times on some snowshoes. If you’re like me you’ll love the peace and solitude of experiencing the backcountry in winter, or you may prefer a fun day tromping around on the snow with friends.

Fall Scoping

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Terry, Backcountry Ambassador

Since finding out I was chosen as a Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador, my fall hiking has taken on a whole new meaning. I’m not only enjoying the gorgeous colors of fall here in the PNW but scoping out new snowshoe routes. There is a lot to consider and take into concern. Safety being first, access, distance, and elevation gain.

My list is growing with every outing, and studying routes. So far? I’ve included links:

Mount Townsend
http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mount-townsend-snowshoe

Surprise Lake
http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/surprise-lake-snowshoe

Granite Mountain
http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/granite-mountain-snowshoe

Sauk Mountain
http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/sauk-mountain-snowshoe

Aside from this, I will also be snowshoeing and winter camping to a few hidden gems. It’s going to be a great season as I’ve already been in the snow twice and it’s only November!

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