Lyndon, Backcountry Ambassador
This past fall, a coworker and I introduced a few of our student workers to hiking. They started hiking with us as we were in the midst of training for Cactus to Clouds (C2C), which is regarded as one of the most difficult day hikes in America. They really hit the ground running, taking on some tough challenges as their first hikes and a few of them even hiked C2C with us. After we hiked C2C, the “typical” hiking season was winding down and some were sad that they’d be taking a break from their new hobby. I explained to them that they should actually be getting excited – snowshoe and winter hiking season was about to begin!
Being new to outdoor recreation and living in Southern California all of their lives, I wondered how much convincing it would take to get them to spend a few hours in (possibly) freezing temps and carrying the gear necessary for backcountry snowshoeing. I shared some photos from past trips, explained what type of gear they’d need, as well as how strenuous the days would be (they’re always up for a challenge). Before I knew it, they were anticipating the first significant snowfall as much as I was.
After spending the next few weeks waiting for the right opportunity and scrounging up enough winter gear for the group, a series of storms dropped a few feet of snow on the local mountains, creating excellent conditions for snowshoeing. My father-in-law (an experienced hiker) was also visiting from the east coast and he decided to join us.
It had been about four years since the area had received such a large snowfall, so I knew that the popular trails would be very busy. Wanting to avoid the crowds if possible, we started early. We followed an unplowed road for the first mile and then followed a ridge/use trail for the remainder of our ascent. The terrain was steep and watching my friends struggle with using snowshoes for the first time provided some unexpected entertainment. They got the hang of it quickly though and despite being exhausted after only covering three miles, they had a great time and are looking forward to the next trip. They were both surprised at how much harder snowshoeing is than hiking, but equally surprised at how much a coat of snow can transform a landscape.