Do you love to snowshoe? How far are you willing to go to get your fix? Trying to find a great snowshoe adventure in the summer might include a trip to the other end of the planet. Australia’s winter is our summer, and vice versa and a quick trip to the island nation might be just the ticket. Of course, you can always cross-train for your snowshoe fitness by cycling, running, or hiking. But for pure snowshoeing joy, we know a great place you might try.
Where to Go Snowshoeing!
The Snowy Mountains of the Jindabyne area, New South Wales, Australia – to be specific. Bruce Easton is our friend down-under and one of the country’s leading proponents of snowshoeing in Australia. He is also the owner and proprietor of Wilderness Sports, a crack outdoor gear station where you can rent and buy all kinds of equipment throughout the year. Bruce tells us snowshoeing is rapidly gaining on the very popular resort and off-piste skiing done in his backyard. Snowshoeing is coming into its own.
If you’d like to contact Bruce directly, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org where he can give you the inside information on where to go, brief you on conditions and weather and if you’re lucky enough to get him to go with you as your guide he can show you and your group some of the world’s most unique terrain made accessible by snowshoes. And, snowshoeing in Australia might be just what the doctor ordered for a hot summer break.
Bruce is recognized as one of Australia’s great outdoor adventure guides having been in the business for over 35 years. He has been a tireless advocate for skiing, snowshoeing, and all things snowy and has led hundreds of groups and individuals over the mountains and across some of the craziest country you’ll ever encounter. Giant gum trees with their multicolored bark covered in snow make for a Dr. Seuss-like experience on snowshoes. The sun, somehow, seems bigger down there and while you’re trekking across vast tracks of land with blue and green landscapes off in the distance, the weather couldn’t be better and more accommodating. Snow under foot, blue-bird skies above, a crescent moon in the distance and you have everything you need for an incredible snowshoe experience this summer. If you’d like to find out where else we recommend great snowshoeing, contact us directly at Crescent Moon Snowshoes, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter all year long.
Snowshoeing is one of the fastest growing and most popular winter outdoor activities in North America and Europe, according to information recently published by Snowsports Industries of America (SIA).
Since the introduction of the modern snowshoe in the early 1990s snowshoeing has steadily grown, outpacing snowboarding and Nordic skiing and is now the third most popular winter activity in North America. Part of that growth is due to the ease of learning how to snowshoe and the low cost of entry and of course, the fact that all you need is snow. And with the winter we’ve just had in places like the Midwest, back east, and here in Colorado, that means you can jump right out your back door or onto the local trail or park system.
Here in Boulder we just had a spring snow with nearly a foot of fresh powder and our local ski area, Eldora, has (ironically) just closed for the season – which means, at least for me, it’s the opening of a new season on and around the area. Fresh snow, no traffic, a beautiful sunny day with blue bird skies… what’s not to like?! And nothing else can get you there like snowshoes.
If the answer isn’t obvious from the above, why go snowshoeing? There are as many reasons as there are people taking up the sport, but for me, it’s as simple as being outdoors with nothing else to interfere with the act of listening to the sound of my own breath. It’s the affirmation of being alive. Simplicity and serenity, inner peace… that’s so Boulder, I can hear you say!
True enough, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. For many people, finding a place, time and a means to that end is pretty difficult. Our modern aged lifestyle isn’t easy and while I’m not a doctor (although I did stay at a Holiday Inn once) I highly recommend you visit yourself in a quiet place on a regular basis. Maybe a daily visit to the web site me.calm should be in the bookmarks section of your daily routine, and snowshoeing is just one of the gateways, but from my perspective, a tried and true one. Not the only one, of course, but on a day like today, inarguably a fantastic one.
Alright. So let’s say you decide to try it. What do you need?
Besides snow, the obvious answer is a pair of snowshoes. You can buy or rent snowshoes from a local dealer, or online. Some of the best online dealers can be found with simple search terms – too obvious to mention, but among those on-line dealers which provide great content and sound selections of equipment, I recommend Backcountry.com, C & C Outdoors, Backcountry Edge, and perhaps just as opinionated, I would stay away from buying your outdoor equipment from places like Target or Costco/Walmart, and Amazon, because inevitably, you get what you pay for.
Price is not the only criteria, particularly when you’re considering a piece of equipment that will give you a great experience or one that does the exact opposite. Snowshoes are like everything else you’re familiar with purchasing: there are good ones and there are cheaply made ones of lesser quality. Look online at what others have opined about the brand you’re considering, and what they say about the bindings.
In my experience, the binding is the most important component of any snowshoe and the connection between you and your outdoor adventure. There is a direct correlation between the design and functionality of the bindings and what kind of experience you’re going to have. Pay the extra $100 to get the good ones – guaranteed, you’re return on investment will be much higher.
Regardless of how you get your snowshoes, whether it’s online, or from your favorite local dealer (always recommended), once you’ve got the gear, and you’ve dressed appropriately, find a trail and begin. There’s a great web site you can refer to for general information called Winter Trails which has lots of information on how to dress, where to go, etc., but for the best local info, visit your local outfitter (and buy something from them for providing the service) because they, just like the local fishing store who know what flies are working that day, know the ‘locals’ favorite.
Many of ski areas across the US also have Nordic centers with established snowshoe trails to enjoy and that’s a great place to start if you’re resort bound. Some of my favorite resorts are Steamboat, Telluride, Breckenridge, Mammoth (Tamarac Cross Country), and all of these locations feature designated snowshoe trails which take you into the quiet, peaceful surroundings of your own ‘inner’ outdoors.
So now, you’ve got your gear, you’re dressed appropriately, you know where you’re going, and completely loaded up on information about how to make your day great and you still don’t know what the number one reason for going snowshoeing is?
Here it is, and it’s somewhat of an ironical reason given the direction and discourse of the previous – it’s sharing the experience. Yup, all that stuff about finding your bliss and being at peace and listening to your own breath is all true. But it’s even better when you can share it with your pals, your girlfriends, your kids, your mom, dad, colleagues and someone you love.
It’s the number one reason why snowshoeing is one of the best outdoor experiences you’ll ever have – because it’s social. It’s Facebook without the book, it’s real time you spend with friends and your canine companions. It’s simple to say to your mates, “hey, let’s go out for a few hours and take a breather”.
Take a walk in someone else’s shoes, or lend them yours, or introduce a buddy to your favorite space in the woods. It’s that simple. Surprised?
Nothing puts a damper on an otherwise fun snowshoe adventure than cold, wet feet.
This invites blisters, frostbite and also leads to dreaded swamp foot (read: clamminess, bacteria growth, stinky feet). Having the right footwear for the conditions at hand (or foot!) is critical for snowshoeing, especially if you are cross-training for running or cycling and need to maintain your fitness schedule.
Socks – the first line of defense against blisters and cold feet. Cushioned socks provide extra support and warmth for colder temps. Cotton socks are great around the neighborhood, but there is no greater enemy in the wilderness. There is a saying that cotton kills because once cotton is saturated it holds moisture against the skin causing a damp, cold clamminess that encourages blisters and other unpleasantries. We prefer merino wool socks which are naturally temperature regulating and move moisture away from your skin, allowing for more breathability and temperature control. Merino wool is also antimicrobial, so these socks tend to stay fresher for longer. Socks made from synthetic performance fibers like nylon also help wick moisture away from your feet, but don’t hold up as well against stinky feet.
Footwear – our Single Pull Loop Bindings fit securely to virtually any footwear enabling you to use your favorite pair of hiking boots or comfortable, lightweight running shoes. Your footwear should fit properly. Too tight and you’ll experience poor circulation and cold feet, while too loose of a fit causes hot spots from rubbing and blisters or even worse the risk of rolling an ankle. Good waterproof hiking boots with ankle support are crucial for long snowshoe adventures through deep snow, but there is a saying that an extra pound on your feet is equivalent to 5 pounds on your back. Often times your favorite footwear for trail running isn’t waterproof enough for snowshoeing and spray on waterproofing is questionable protection at best.
This is where over-shoe protection comes in – gaiters provide handy protection above the ankles but unfortunately don’t enclose the toe of the shoe. A better option is a pair of neoprene booties. Lightweight, waterproof Crescent Moon Snowshoe Booties wrap around your entire foot as well as enclosing the toe, allowing you to wear your favorite running shoes without getting soaked.
After Snowshoeing – If your footwear is wet, simply wad up some newspaper or brown paper bags and stuff them inside the shoes. This will speed up the drying process and prevent bacteria growth. If your feet and socks are wet check for blisters and treat them as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to always carry a first aid kit, especially if you’re doing a multi-day hut trip or spending long periods of time outdoors. For snowshoeing and most human powered activities, items for blister care should be a prominent part of your kit!
Crescent Moon Snowshoes and Get Fit Family Racing are teaming up this winter to bring you the inaugural XTERRA Steamboat Snowshoe Race Series.
Crescent Moon will provide its high performance racing snowshoes for the event, as well as demos of the company’s newest carbon framed snowshoes, the lightest racing snowshoes on the market. Crescent Moon’s intuitive binding system fits almost any running shoe or boot, making it simple and enjoyable to continue training during the winter.
The first race in the series kicked off in January at the Catamount Ranch in Steamboat, with two more races coming up in February and March. Each race features three courses, including a kids and family race where those new to the sport can demo a pair of Crescent Moon’s high performance racing snowshoes in a fun, no-pressure environment.
The snowshoe racing series also includes 5K and 10K races for competitive runners to test their endurance and win bragging rights. The athlete with the most points – by gender and age group – after the last race in the Series earns the title of XTERRA Steamboat Snowshoe Series Champion and earns free entry into the XTERRA National Championship Trail Race in Ogden Utah on September 21st, 2014. Get Fit Family Racing will also offer Fat Tire Snow Bike Races at each venue — 5k and 10k competitive events — to round out a great day of racing and fun.
Snowshoe running and racing is a fast growing sport that’s steadily gaining popularity among endurance athletes and recreationalists alike. Snowshoeing is the perfect cross training sport for running and cycling that works the quads, hamstrings and calf muscles, burning between 400 and 900 calories per hour, also running or walking in the snow increases the heart rate faster than on dry ground.
And what better way to enjoy the Colorado sunshine this winter than playing in the snow and having fun with your friends and family?
To learn more, register for the event or to view race results, please visit Get Fit Family Racing.
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