One of the most frustrating aspects of being an avid snowshoer is waiting for the season to begin. I’m not a patient guy to begin with and seeing other parts of the country (I’m looking at you, Colorado and Utah!) getting snow while the Pacific Northwest is just rain makes me want to sit in front of my happy-light for a few hours.

While the Internet spews pictures of blue skies and white snow that I can’t touch, it also makes researching this winter’s adventures much easier. In between ballet, ice skating, and tae kwon do there will be a few weekends when I can get the family into the mountains to enjoy nature. Here’s what I’m planning for this season.

Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park
Hurricane Ridge is accessible year round, 17 miles from Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula. My family rarely gets to explore the Olympic Mountains and the Park because it’s 120 miles and three hours away. However, this winter it’s on our list.

Starting at the lodge, it’s six miles and 800 feet of gain to the summit of Hurricane Hill. However, there are plenty of spots to stop and enjoy the amazing views south into the heart of the Park, including Mt. Olympus, and north to the Straight of Juan de Fuca and Canada beyond.

http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/hurricane-hill-snowshoe
http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/hurricane-ridge-in-winter.htm

Reflection and Louise Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier dominates the skyline for much of Washington with good reason. It stands alone in the Cascades, towering above all the neighboring peaks. Much of the Park is closed in winter, but the Park Service does its best to keep Paradise open and accessible all year round. Most of our adventures in the Park have been on the north side at Sunrise, which is an hour closer than Paradise on the south side of the mountain. My kids haven’t been to Paradise, but that will change this season.

In addition to visiting the snow play area at Paradise, where the average annual snowfall is 53.6 feet (yes, FEET) and the lowest recorded snowfall was 26 feet, we’ll be snowshoeing to Reflection and Louise Lakes. Seven miles roundtrip with only 560 feet of elevation gain along the closed, snow-covered roads. Roads are perfect for hauling gear in a sled so I’ll be pulling mine, though everything will be in a backpack in case the sled turns out to be more of a hinderance.

The lakes provide iconic views of the mountain in both summer and winter. With the road closed, though, you won’t have the hum of traffic behind you as you look across the frozen lake to Washington’s highest mountain.

http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/seasonal-hikes/winter-destinations/snowshoeing-mt.-rainier
http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/winter-recreation.htm

Grubstake and Northway Peak via the Crystal Mountain Gondola
Crystal Mountain is one of the premier ski resorts in Washington. They offer guided snowshoe walks, but they don’t get to the ridge that separates the ski area from amazing views of Mount Rainier. You could climb the 2,400 feet in a little more than a mile or you can ride the Crystal Mountain Gondola to the Summit House restaurant at 6,872 feet.

From the Summit House, we’ll head north along the ridge and the boundary with Mount Rainier National Park to Grubstake and Northway Peaks. It’s an easy snowshoe stroll along the ridge for only a couple of miles round trip with 500 feet of gain. The views can’t get much better so we’ll turn around when we’re satisfied or get hungry for lunch at Washington’s highest restaurant.

http://crystalmountainresort.com/The-Mountain/Gondola
http://crystalmountainresort.com/Activities/Where_to_eat/78/Summit-House-Restaurant

Artist Point, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Like Olympic National Park, Mt. Baker is a long drive for us at almost 160 miles. However, on the north side of the mountain is Artist Point. In 1999, a world record 1,140 inches (95 feet) of snow fell on Mt. Baker. Besides mountains of snow, Artist Point offers views of Mt. Baker (Washington’s third highest mountain) and Mt. Shuksan.

Unlike the other trips I’m hoping to take the family on, this is no walk in the park. Over a 5.5 mile round trip we’ll climb 1,200 feet. More importantly, there is avalanche danger so we’ll only get to try this hardest trip of the season if the conditions are safe and the weather’s good.

http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/artist-point-snowshoe

For all these trips, safety will be my top priority followed by fun and then the destination. Avalanche safety is a big issue with the wet snow in the Northwest, but there are usually enough safe times to get on the snow and alternative routes if it’s questionable.

Even if we don’t get to all of these amazing spots in Washington (or any of them), I’m sure we’ll have more than our fair share of time on the snow. Assuming it finally snows here. I’m dancing now.

John Soltys
Kids / Family Ambassador

Winter Trails celebrates its 16th year on January 8, 2011.  Winter Trails offers children and adults new to snow sports a chance to try snowshoeing and/or cross country skiing FREE at venues throughout North America. There is no charge for the use of equipment or trails. Most locations offer snowshoeing AND cross country skiing. Some locations only offer snowshoeing. Current alpine skiers and/or snowboarders are also encouraged to try an alternative snow sport.

Winter Trails locations, hours and offerings are posted at WinterTrails.org as they are announced. Venues include alpine resorts, Nordic centers, state parks, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service land. Details accompany each event’s listing on the Winter Trails website.  Registration is also available on-site at each location.

There is no charge for equipment or trail fees. While most events take place on the “official” date, some are held on alternative dates. One of the largest – at Estes Park, Colorado – is being held on January 15, 2011 and is part of the Estes Park Winter Festival.  The www.wintertrails.org Web site is regularly updated.

On-line registration for Winter Trails begins November 15, 2010. Those who register on-line will have an opportunity to win prizes offered by Winter Trails supporters. On-line registrants also will receive updates on events and any weather advisories that could affect a particular venue.

“Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are winter outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by individuals, groups of friends and family members,” said Reese Brown, a Winter Trails organizer. “They are affordable, easy to learn and they provide moderate to vigorous exercise, depending on an individual’s effort. With obesity rates in the U.S. at an all time high, Winter Trails can introduce active and not so active children and adults to sports that provide winter outdoor recreation.”

2010 Romp to Stomp

Romp to Stomp Series History

Since the Series began in 2003

Total participants: 22,974

Total raised for breast cancer: $1,326,475


Romp to Stomp Series 2010

Total participants: 5,558

Total raised for breast cancer:  $327,843
_______________________________________
2010 RESULTS BY EVENT

New Jersey
327 Participants
$27,168 for the raised North Jersey Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Avg raised per participant: $80

Vermont
620 Participants
$60,783 raised for the VT/NH Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Avg raised per participant: $91

Utah
508 Participants
$27,507 raised for the Salt Lake City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Avg raised per participant: $47

Washington
749 Participants
$38,325 raised for the Puget Sound Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Avg raised per participant: $43

Ontario
Participants: 400
$30,901 raised for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Avg raised per participant: $77

Oregon
735 Participants
$18,009 raised for the OR/SW WA Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure: $14,000
Avg raised per participant: $20

Colorado
2,219 Participants
$125,149 raised for the Denver Metropolitan Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Avg raised per participant: $42

Thank you to all who participated, volunteered, and sponsored–your dedication, commitment, and investment inspired thousands to stay active in the winter and to make a significant impact on the fight against breast cancer. We hope to see you next year!

Aiming to top last year’s 4,150 participants and more than $200K contributed to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Tubbs Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer Snowshoe Series® is lining up seven events in North America for 2010. Anticipating another successful season, 2010 will mark Tubbs’s donation of more than one million dollars in the fight against breast cancer.

To celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the 2010 Romp to Stomp Snowshoe Series is now open and participants can take advantage of the special Early Bird rate saving them up to $15. With winter right around the corner, the Romp to Stomp Snowshoe Series offers a fun, family-friendly way to help fight breast cancer beyond breast cancer awareness month. In the USA, participants choose from a 3k or 5k snowshoe walk or a 3k snowshoe race in New Jersey, Vermont, Utah, Washington, Oregon, or Colorado; and the Ontario, Canada Romp offers a 3k snowshoe walk or a 5k snowshoe race. The cost for early online registration is $25 per adult ($15 for kids) or $40 for onsite registration ($30 for kids and available at most sites). Each event will feature goodie bags for all participants, a sweepstakes, a breast cancer survivor tribute, and a grand prize awarded to the single largest individual fundraiser.

“The Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer is a fabulous excuse to get outdoors in the middle of winter and raise money for a great cause at the same time” said Alyson Ruby, captain of Romp to Stomp team P-Ruby and a past series top fundraiser. “I didn’t really know what to expect when I became involved with the event in 2004 as a person who was very new to the sport of snowshoeing and had only recently become a part of a family battling breast cancer. Over the past two years as my family’s battle became bigger so did our team and our donations. It has been, and will continue to be, an honor to be a part of this wonderful event.”

2010 Dates/sites:

January 23: Mountain Creek Resort, Vernon, New Jersey

January 30: Stratton Mountain Resort, Stratton, Vermont

February 6: Mountain Dell Golf Course, Salt Lake City, Utah

February 20: The Summit at Snoqualmie Nordic Center, Washington

February 20: Scenic Caves, Town of the Blue Mountains, Ontario

February 27: White River West Sno Park, Mt Hood, Oregon

March 6: Frisco Nordic Center, Frisco, Colorado

For more information or to register on the Tubbs Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer Snowshoe Series, visit www.tubbsromptostomp.com

FLEX ALP Wins 2010 Gear of the Year Award
FLEX ALP Wins 2010 Gear of the Year Award

Tubbs Snowshoes proudly announces the new FLEX ALP as Outside Magazine’s choice for the esteemed “Gear of the Year” award.

“The Alp simply outperformed every other all-purpose snowshoe in the test,” says Buyer’s Guide editor Sam Moulton. “The flexible plastic deck affords exceptional stability and grip whether you’re hiking for turns or strolling on the rec path.”

“Dialing in the perfect fit is, literally, a cinch,” adds Moulton. “Two easy-to-pull straps lock down the binding mid-foot and—this is the best part—tuck away and never drag or otherwise interfere.”

The FLEX ALP and the FLEX Series of snowshoes (available in both men’s and women’s models) are the first ergonomic snowshoes optimized for walking on packed and variable snow and feature the FLEX Tail™ that absorbs shock and reduces stress on the joints.  Featuring the Active Lift™ heel lift for easy ascents and the biomechanically-designed FLEX Tail to ease joint stress on steep arduous descents, the FLEX ALP is a performance product designed for any challenge.

“We are excited to receive this prestigious honor,” says Graham Gephart, Tubbs Snowshoes Brand Manager. “Outside’s Winter Buyer’s Guide is the resource for people looking to purchase new products.  The FLEX Series is the result of true innovation, rigorous testing, biomechanical research, and extensive field use, anTubbs 2010 Gear of the YearTubbs 2010 Gear of the Year we are proud that they are recognized as the premier showshoes.”

To learn more and to see how the patented FLEX Tail works, click here to visit the FLEX Series minisite.