The Miracle of Snowshoeing
The Road Not Taken
Snowshoes are a snowmobile less the stink, noise, and guilt. They are mobility. They take you to magic places where you otherwise could not go. They can bring you utter solitude and the peace that comes with it. Tread the diamond-strewn pathless white and cross paths with fox, coyote, deer, rabbit, weasel and mouse, their daily ventures detailed as if in cuneform at your feet, with only the wind as your companion. Or bring a friend and share the laughter of the unaccustomed environment. You will not be sorry.
Tracks tell the stories of animals' daily routines. The rabbit often hops around within a certain radius or sometimes might venture further, across an open space, in search of food. The fox and the coyote range for miles in more or less straight lines. Deer collect in herds where there is food. The mouse goes on brief expeditions, hopping lightly across the snow for several feet and then back the same way.
I use snowshoes from L.L. Bean, which offers a variety of entry level snowshoes and snowshoe packages. I particularly like the easy entry/exit bindings. If you plan to go winter camping ot to hike long distance, you might consider a more advanced pair of snowshoes that will give you more stability and that won't sink down into soft snow quite as much. Atlas is an excellent brand.
Poles make snowshoeing much easier because they help you keep your balance, and if you lose your balance, they are very handy in helping you get up without getting too much snow down your glove.
Gaiters are water resistant, zip-on tubes that cover your shins and keep the snow off your pants or from going down your boot. I don't usually use gaiters, because I find that if I keep my pants leg outside my boot, almost no snow gets in. But if you are going to make a day of it, the ante on keeping your feet dry goes way up and gaiters might be a really good idea.
Full Body Workout
Snowshoeing is at least as aerobic as cross country skiing - perhaps moreso since one walks, rather than skis, down hills. Also, it is easier to negotiate more rugged terrain on snowshoes than skis. Using trekking poles (equipped with snow baskets) enhances the workout by including your arms and upper body.
It's a great way to get yourself a great workout or cross-training opportunity in a beautiful environment. Get your gear, get out there and have fun!
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