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A Favorite Winter Activity

By Sandi O’Connell

I LOVE SNOWSHOEING!!! Coming from an avid snowshoer, snow shoeing is fairly simple to do, and it can take you to some very beautiful and remote places in the winter. Think frozen waterfalls and cotton snow covered evergreens. However, snowshoeing can still be quite tiring (definitely more so than walking), so you tend to do silly “Clumsy” things as you tire.

Some advice: you have to stay focused on lifting your feet and not stepping on your other foot’s snowshoe. Also make sure your snowshoe straps are tight and secure, so your foot stays in the correct place. I suggest using poles if you can get them. They are great for stability and you get the added benefit of an arm workout and higher calorie burn. Your triceps will talk to you later. I have caught myself from bad falls a few times kicking things under the snow and was so thankful for polls. If you decide to go up and down any major hills or mountain hikes, polls are your best friend.

Another tidbit is if it is your first time out snowshoeing (or even second time out) do NOT go in deep snow. IT IS GRUELING. Always best to go on packed trails. A little ice or loose snow is okay, but deep snow is very hard on your legs and you tire quickly. It’s not like in the cartoons where you have big wooden paddles on your feet that float you on top of the snow. Even specific “deep-snow” snowshoes don’t really make you stay on top of snow unless it is iced on the top.

I got caught out in the middle of a pond with my friend once in deep snow and melting ice underfoot. It was a very weird experience of getting so exhausted and being so nervous, my friend and I ended up in a fit of laughter in the middle of the pond while half sinking in slush under snow because we just couldn’t lift our legs anymore. We were laughing at our stupidity and the fact that our feet were getting wet in the slush underneath and WE COULD NOT MOVE. We could see our previous zig-zagged tracks in the virgin snow because we were trying so hard to get through the deep snow that we couldn’t keep a straight line. We were debating on how stupid we would sound if we called my husband to come rescue us with a sled and then realized he wouldn’t be able to pull the both of us. It took a very long time to get off the pond that day and we were lucky we didn’t fall in.

Since I am offering tips, last one is don’t over dress when snow shoeing or dress in layers that you can remove. You start out cold and even with a slow pace you will work up to a much warmer temperature that you’ll will want to strip down. Be sure you wear gators or long pants that cover your boot openings. The snow kicks up when you walk with snowshoes and it can get in your boots if not covered. A chunk of snow got in my boot on one jaunt I took while wearing nothing but yoga leggings and boots – It was fairly warm that day, but the snow was still not melted. I thought I looked so awesome in my stylish leggings with my ski socks pulled up over them. Little did I know snow was getting in my boot and balling up and basically freezing through my sock onto my skin. I ended up getting bad frost bite on my leg. It was black! It didn’t heal for over a year! I swear I didn’t feel it at the time, maybe because I was sweating. I will always cover my boots now.

Don’t let my little mishaps deter you. It is one of the most relaxing activities you can do in the winter. I hope you try it. Bring your camera for wildlife and Mother nature sightings and enjoy the peace and beauty of nature with that good rhythmic pace.

Besides, who needs the tropics anyways?

About the Author:

Sandi O’Connell is the Vice President of Operations/Owner of Financial Aid Services and is passionate about nurturing the culture of FAS, creating genuine connections with others, and building camaraderie. When Sandi is not building people up, she’s exploring the gift of nature on foot or bike in mountains near and far. As a recent “empty-nester” Sandi and her husband have taken up Van Adventures – traveling to experience new destinations with a good book, and good meal by the fire.

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