Why I love introducing people to snowshoeing


John, Family Ambassador

I recently had the opportunity to take some of my cousins-in-law snowshoeing on Mt. Hood the day after Thanksgiving. That day has always been a day for adventuring even if it has only just this year been widely adopted thanks to REI’s #OptOutside campaign. This trip was one that reminded me of some of the many reasons I love snowshoeing and why I love introducing others to snowshoeing.

It was a beautiful blue-sky day and the mountain invited us to play. My three cousins-in-law had never been snowshoeing. Heck, one of them was a city boy from New Jersey! (Don’t blame me. He’s a cousin-in-law-in-law.) All three were as in awe of Mt. Hood standing high above us as I was. My kids, who I sometimes think have become jaded and spoiled by the amazing views we’ve had on our adventures, were thrilled to be on the white slopes of Oregon’s highest peak.

When nature’s magnificence is thrust upon you, no matter who you are or where you’re from, it’s hard to resist. Snowshoeing is so close to walking and so natural it lets you appreciate where you are without distraction. We took full advantage of the great conditions and casually strolled north along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Timberline Lodge.

Before we left the lodge area we saw plenty of slipping and uncertain feet. Some of us (not naming names, but it was me) even fell while helping others getting strapped into their snowshoes. Once we were all ready to start there were no problems with traction. Even when the snow is hard and there’s no need for a snowshoe’s floatation the sharp (really sharp) crampons mean that even on ice each step is confident.

We ended our trip near the Little Zigzag Canyon just a mile from the trailhead. The wind was blowing down from the summit 5,000 feet above us so it was really fortuitous we were right at tree line where we could find shelter. With the wind blowing around us it was a perfect spot to break for lunch with hot cocoa (a novelty because it was made from melted snow on my stove) and leftover turkey sandwiches.

What I love most about taking new snowshoers out is the moment they realize how easy it is to go out on an “epic” adventure and that they don’t need specialized training or equipment. The cousins must really have enjoyed themselves because now their parents want to go. That’s great news for me because I get to witness that special moment again. And, of course, I have another excuse to go snowshoeing.