It’s that time of year, when we all want to curl up with a good book. If you’re like me you can only hibernate so long before you have cabin fever. A few years ago I needed a winter activity that would get me outside. I tried snowshoeing and found that whether I was alone listening to a book that I had downloaded for free from Overdrive, or with friends at a group event, I was hooked! Better yet, snowshoeing burns more calories than walking or running the same distance.
Snowshoeing isn’t an expensive sport compared to many others. The key to success is choosing gear that fits the type of snowshoeing that you are doing and is easy to use. If your hands get too cold putting your snowshoes on or you have to keep tightening the bindings, it may not be the best experience. Some snowshoe brands to check out are: Northern Lights, Redfeather (both made in Wisconsin), Atlas, Dion, and Tubbs. There are basically three types of snowshoes:
- Recreational hiking. The most common type. They have less aggressive traction (cleats) and are best for flatter ground with less snow depth. These can be a lower priced option. Some will come in kits with poles, but this is not always the best value.
- Backcountry hiking. Best for going off regular trails in deeper snow. They may have more aggressive traction and larger bindings for bulky winter boots.
- Running/Fitness. Shorter and narrower than other styles. Easier to use, with a more natural stride and best for established trails.
Clothing is an important consideration. For hiking in the woods waterproof hiking boots with a medium weight merino wool sock are usually warm enough. Layer your clothing with a wicking layer closest to the skin and a wind/waterproof layer on the outside.
Chippewa Off Road Bike Association maintains singletrack trails for snowshoeing, hiking and biking in several area parks. There are also snowshoe trails available at Tower Ridge Recreation Area. Carson Park, the City Wells and Guettinger Woods and Wildlife Area allow snowshoeing, however there are no groomed trails. Snowshoeing and hiking are not allowed on any groomed cross country ski trails in the area.
Snowshoeing can be done solo, with a group or as a family. Many people enjoy snowshoe running and compete at races that take place each winter.
Check out these books on snowshoeing from your local MORE library: