Suddenly, we are a family of snowshoers. From my 9-year old niece to my retired parents, we collectively own roughly a dozen pair. The cool thing is, this isn’t unusual. To borrow from an overused cliché and a bad pun, snowshoeing is taking North America by storm. Increasingly, we are stepping out our back doors, taking to our local parks and packing our snowshoes to take away with us on vacation. Snowshoe destinations abound, and it is this that I hope to address in this space, as Snowshoe Magazine has graciously offered me the opportunity to share my snowshoe related travels.
I’ll start by briefly introducing myself and my husband Jack, two transplanted Canadian farm kids from Southern Ontario. I grew up on cross-country skis, frequenting the peaceful fields and picturesque woodlands of my family’s 200-year-old farm. Jack spent every weekend and several weeknights pursuing his ice hockey dreams at the local rink or on his parents’ farm pond. Obviously winter sports are in our blood, but life can take unexpected turns, and we now find ourselves living in California’s Silicon Valley, a fast-paced suburban sprawl of high-tech innovation flanked by sun-baked hillsides. Because of Silicon Valley’s seasonless nature, we strive to escape to the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains for semi-regular injections of winter sports, and this is how we came to the sport of snowshoeing.
Several years ago, in the early years of our California sojourn, we decided that if the Sierra is stunning in summer, it must be fabulous in winter. One sunny winter weekend we traveled to Sequoia National Park, basing ourselves at the beautifully-situated Wuksachi Lodge. The first morning we laced up our hiking boots and stepped out of the lodge into a few inches of snow. After 40 minutes of rolling trails and a marked increase in elevation, the snow deepened and the walking became more difficult. We became captivated by the few other hikers on the trail, many of them effortlessly passing us as they enjoyed the benefits of their snowshoes. The next day we drove to the Wolverton trailhead for a full-day hike to Panther Gap. Beginning at an elevation of 7250 feet and climbing to 8450, we had our work cut out for us. By the time we reached the Gap we were postholing to our knees, enamored with the Sierra’s winter landscape, and determined to buy snowshoes as soon as possible!
Since that weekend, we have made numerous snowshoeing getaways to the Sierra, both to Yosemite and to its lesser-known neighbors to the south, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. We feel incredibly fortunate to have these beautiful parks in our backyard. Jack and I have made it a priority to see the world, both our own backyard and farther afield. The world is a fabulous place, and as of this month we have visited every continent, Antarctica being our latest. For us travel has become a compulsion. It’s therapeutic, addictive, life-altering, enlightening and absolutely necessary. And, we can take our snowshoes. One of the great things about travel is the stories that result. Check back to this space – I’m looking forward to sharing these stories with you.
I have written previously on this website of snowshoeing in Yosemite National Park https://www.snowshoemag.com/view_content.cfm?content_id=240. It was interesting to read that the Dewey Point loop which I described in my article was recently mentioned on the San Francisco Chronicle’s website as possibly “the best snowshoe walk in North America”. It is truly fabulous.
Anyone looking to enjoy the splendor of Sequoia National Park should visit http://www.VisitSequoia.com for great winter deals at Wuksachi Lodge (to March 31, 2006). If you’re new to the sport, rental snowshoes are available, and are included in some of the rates.