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.