About Debbie McKeown

ALL POSTS BY THIS AUTHOR:

Tibet: Mountains and Monasteries

We are on a train bound for Lhasa. I can barely believe it. “On our way to Lhasa” … wow!

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by Tibet, an exotic, remote, and sometimes troubled land. … Continue reading


Columbia Windefend Half Zip: Four-Season Wind Protection

I don’t often come across an article of clothing that works well for me in all four seasons, but I’m happy to report that Columbia’s Windefend Half Zip does just that. I’ve worn it for winter snowshoeing, fall hiking, and … Continue reading


Grouse Mountain Snowshoe Grind Delivers Fun and Fitness

“What’s your Grind time?” Almost any active Vancouverite will be able to answer this question. Grouse Mountain’s famous Grouse Grind is labelled “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”, and Vancouver loves it! In 2.9 kilometres (1.8 miles), the wickedly steep trail climbs 853 … Continue reading


Waterton Lakes National Park: Where the Mountains Meet the Prairie

As a big fan of Canada’s National Park system, I’m pretty pumped about knocking another one off my bucket list. My husband Jack and I have spent time in Alberta’s more well-known mountain parks, Banff and Jasper, and have even … Continue reading


Mount Washington and the Comox Valley: Snowshoeing and Beyond

According to its license plates, British Columbia is the most beautiful place on earth. A very big claim, but spend a couple days snowshoeing on Vancouver Island’s Mount Washington, and you may come to agree. On a bright, sunny day … Continue reading


Dedication and Determination Will Serve Special Olympics BC Snowshoers Well

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
– Vince Lombardi, American football coach… Continue reading


Columbia’s Gathering Storm Glove Meets the Queen of Cold Hands

As a snowshoer and general outdoor enthusiast, I’ve always struggled to keep my hands warm and often it isn’t pretty. I have been known to wear so many layers of mittens that I can barely grip my poles. That was … Continue reading


Columbia’s Omni-Heat Technology Provides Warmth and Breathability

Columbia’s Omni-Heat technology can be credited for a good part of the effectiveness of the jacket. In plain terms, the little silver dots on the inside of the jacket reflect heat back at you, retaining the warmth your body generates. … Continue reading


Snowshoeing Under Churchill’s Mystic Northern Lights

©macriphoto.ca

“Oh, it was wild and weird and wan, and ever in camp o’nights
We would watch and watch the silver dance of the mystic Northern Lights.
And soft they danced from the Polar sky and swept in primrose haze;… Continue reading


Snowshoeing in the Footsteps of Grey Owl

A sudden jolt of adrenaline kicks in as I look at the tangle of animal tracks. As the snow drifts gently down, all is silent and serene. Yet, there's a story in these tracks, a drama being played out in the dark frosty forest that surrounds us.


Ontario Eco-Adventure Celebrates Winter

“Snowshoeing reigns supreme. It is the true, natural revel of robust ‘Canucks' who love the snow, however deep, and the storm, however stiff.” --George Beers

As my laboured breathing slowly returns to normal, I take in the natural splendour surrounding me. Snow falls steadily, cooling my overheated face while I scan the slopes below for wildlife that made the tracks we saw while snowshoeing to our rocky perch atop Moose Mountain. The hill opposite us is covered with the mixed forest typical to this area. I find this silent snowy moment to be a fitting finale to our long weekend Eco Adventure on the edge of Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park.


Vancouver’s Mt. Seymour Has Something for Every Snowshoer

I've been snowshoeing on North Vancouver's Mt. Seymour often enough over the past few years to consider myself a regular. So, when the opportunity arose to write about snowshoeing on Mt. Seymour for Snowshoe Magazine, I jumped at the chance. The kind people who live and work on Mt. Seymour agreed to spend a little time with me to round out my knowledge of the wide range of opportunities available for snowshoers.  Now I'm more excited than ever about this wonderful destination.  Without further delay, here are my seven great reasons to go snowshoeing on Mt. Seymour:


Young Special Olympics Snowshoer has Remarkable Past and Promising Future

At just 17 years old, Austin Horrox could already be considered a veteran snowshoer. The Special Olympics Manitoba athlete has competed in snowshoeing at regional, provincial, national and international levels. He has inspired his entire family to come out and cheer him on in competition. And, under a phys education leadership program, Austin is also planning to introduce his grade 12 classmates to the sport of snowshoeing.


KEEN Creates an Equation for Comfortable Warm Feet in Even the Coldest Conditions

Perhaps one of the best endorsements I can give the KEEN Hoodoo High Lace Boots is that when I get back to the car after a day of snowshoeing, I want to leave them on. Usually I'm out of my damp boots right away and ready for something more comfortable, but I'm more than happy to keep wearing the Hoodoo High Lace for the trip home and any errands along the way.

Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Integral Tight

Even before I put on Mountain Hardwear's new Integral Tight, I knew I really wanted to like it. Like many snowshoers, I'm trying to incorporate as many earth-friendly products and habits as possible into my life. So, when I noticed that the fabric content is a blend of merino wool and recycled polyester, I was already excited about it.


Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Zonal Jacket

When I first slipped into Mountain Hardwear's new Zonal jacket, I felt like I was settling into my favorite down sleeping bag. The sleeves and much of the body are constructed of a lightweight quilted fabric called Micro Thermic, providing a light cushiony feel that is warm, comfortable and soft.

Special Olympics Snowshoe Coach is Recognized by Coaches Association of B.C.

Snowshoe Magazine would like to congratulate Special Olympics Snowshoe Coach Maureen Brinson, who has been selected as the Coaches Association of British Columbia's 2009 Recreational/Grassroots Female Coach of the Year.


Campbell River Special Olympics Snowshoe Team Welcomes Aspiring Young Athlete

When 14-year-old Reise Collins selected snowshoeing from the list of available Special Olympics winter activities, his parents were a little surprised. Reise had never been on snowshoes before, nor had anyone else in the Collins family. Now, several months later, Reise is gaining proficiency on snowshoes every time he heads out with the Campbell River BC Special Olympics Snowshoe Team, and is also having a blast. Reise recently raced in his first regional competition, and has even inspired his parents to try snowshoeing. Not bad for a newcomer to the sport.

World Snowshoe Invitational Attracts Global Participation

On Saturday Feb. 27, 2010, a field of elite athletes from eight countries gathered on Vancouver's Grouse Mountain for the World Snowshoe Invitational. Held during the closing days of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the race represented an incredible opportunity to showcase the sport of snowshoe racing to the world. Over 30 international athletes joined Canadian snowshoers to send a loud and clear message that snowshoe racing should be an Olympic event.


Two Weeks in the Life of an Olympic Junkie

After years of anticipation, the 2010 Olympic Winter Games have finally arrived in Vancouver. Since moving to Metro Vancouver 3 years ago, my husband Jack and I have taken every opportunity to participate in anything Olympic-related. We have volunteered, queued for tickets, purchased those famous Canadian red mittens, and the list goes on. Now that we are in the thick of the Games, here's a glimpse of what life looks like from the perspective of a self-proclaimed Olympic Junkie:


The Yeti Welcomes the World

On February 27, 2010, over 250 snowshoers from around the world will gather on Vancouver's Mount Seymour to celebrate the sport of snowshoeing by participating in the World Snowshoe Invitational. Held during the 2010 Olympic Games, it will be an amazing opportunity to showcase our sport on a global level. This event is part of Canada's hugely popular Yeti snowshoe series and will double as the Canadian National Championship. But, what exactly is the Yeti? And how did it morph into an international event attracting elite athletes from at least 10 countries?


Anticipating the World Snowshoe Invitational on Mt. Seymour, Feb. 27

In the final days before the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, snowshoers are also anticipating the World Snowshoe Invitational on North Vancouver's Mt. Seymour. This snowshoe race will be held Saturday February 27, 2010, the day before the Olympics closing ceremonies.


Preparing to Welcome the World: Countdown to the 2010 Winter Olympics

For us, one of the big attractions of moving to British Columbia was the opportunity to live in an Olympic City and attend the biggest sporting event and party on the planet. Sure enough, it has been fascinating to see the preparations unfold, hear conflicting views on the Games, and plan our own involvement. Now, with less than two months to Games-time, the excitement level is really ramping up.


Green Gift Guide for Snowshoers

Snowshoe Magazine

As we all become more environmentally aware, the holiday gift-giving season takes on new challenges. For the past few years, I have been more conscious of giving gifts that are organic, secondhand, made from recycled materials, don't contain dangerous chemicals, give back to local communities … and the list goes on. When I was asked to write an article suggesting holiday gifts for snowshoers, it made sense to highlight products that have a sustainability focus. After all, as snowshoers, our sport depends on the natural environment. It wouldn't be much fun snowshoeing without it.


Gear Review: Julbo Run and Bivouak Sunglasses

“Bulletproof” is the word that keeps coming up when people talk about their Julbo sunglasses. My brother instinctively grabbed his and hurled them against a rock when a bee got under the lens; the sunglasses emerged undamaged. Never one to be easy on gear, this is an important consideration for me. I recently had opportunity to wear Julbo's Run and Bivouak models and found that, in addition to their durability, both have many other appealing features.


Yak Dust, Big Mountains, and Fulfilling a Dream: What One Snowshoer Did on Her Summer Vacation

Landing in Lukla, one of the world's most dangerous airports, is an experience I won't soon forget. Flying amongst the tallest mountains in the world in a tiny Twin Otter plane, we soon spot the airstrip that Edmund Hillary built in Nepal's remote Khumbu Valley. When you're landing, the alarmingly short airstrip slopes upward so gravity will help slow you down. It's a good thing as there's a hard stop at the end, the side of a mountain.


Stories in the Snow – Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba

“[The] rhythm of the snowshoe trail, the beckoning of far-off hills and valleys, the majesty of the tempest, the calm and silent presence of the trees that seem to muse and ponder in their silence; the trust and confidence of small living creatures, the company of simple men; these have been my inspiration and my guide. Without them I am nothing.” - Grey Owl

Driving west from Winnipeg, Manitoba the landscape stretches to the horizon as a vast white ocean of endless prairie. My husband Jack and I are heading towards Riding Mountain National Park and are, quite frankly, wondering how there could possibly be a mountain anywhere in the vicinity. We pass through serene countryside of farmland, quintessential grain elevators and big prairie skies. I recall my high school Canadian Literature class as we travel through the town of Neepawa, former home of author Margaret Laurence. We turn north on Highway 5 and suddenly there it is … not exactly a mountain, but a long dramatic escarpment that rises high above the surrounding farmland. We have found Riding Mountain.


Special Olympics Snowshoer Wins Big at World Games

Bridget Colvin, who was profiled earlier in the season by Snowshoe Magazine, made a spectacular showing at the Special Olympics World Winter Games last month in Boise, Idaho. Bridget returned to her home in Burnaby, British Columbia sporting medals from all three snowshoe events she competed in. Held every four years, the Special Olympics World Winter Games offer an opportunity for athletes with intellectual disabilities to showcase their skills and indomitable spirits in a variety of winter sports. Bridget earned the first gold medal for Team Canada's snowshoers for her best event, the 200 metre snowshoe race, and followed up with a silver in the 400 metre and a bronze in the 4 x 400 relay.

Sol Mountain Touring: Backcountry Comfort in British Columbia’s Monashee Mountains

When I first spot Sol Mountain Lodge, it looks like a small dot in a wilderness of untouched white. The helicopter almost skims the top of the snow-laden trees as we make our final approach. It touches down, is quickly unloaded and takes off again, leaving me here for the next four days. Sol Mountain Touring's backcountry lodge is located in Canada's spectacular southern Monashee Mountains mid-way between Vernon and Revelstoke, British Columbia. I feel like I have been transported to another world.


Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Lightweight Power Stretch Zip T and Boot Length Tight

I'm reluctant to admit the number of days I recently wore Mountain Hardwear's Lightweight Power Stretch Zip T and Boot Length Tights without laundering them. On a two-week Himalayan trek, they were the base layer that I reached for almost daily. They simply cannot be beat for odour repellence, softness and warmth, while their wicking properties are also excellent. I always felt dry and comfortable despite the varying temperatures I encountered, from deep morning chill to afternoon sun. The stretchy fabric is non-constraining and smooth, making it easy to slip outer layers on and off.


Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Wraith SL -20 Down Sleeping Bag

I recently put Mountain Hardwear's Wraith SL -20 sleeping bag to a hard test on a two-week trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Although an experienced tent-dweller, I run very cold, especially when sleeping. As such, I spent a great deal of time planning my cold weather strategies for the late fall conditions I would encounter in the Himalayas. I needn't have worried.


Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Monkey Woman Jacket

Perhaps the most telling thing I can say about Mountain Hardwear's Monkey Woman Jacket is simply that on a recent two-week Himalayan trek, I rarely took it off. It is indeed one of the most comfortable insulating layers I have ever had the pleasure of wearing. In fact, it is not just comfortable, it is comforting; I used it as a pillow most evenings in the tent. The plush fleece feels heavenly against your skin.


Favorite Winter Warm-up

Snowshoe Magazine

Try this easy and healthy soup after a day of snowshoeing. A favorite with several Snowshoe Magazine writers, it's especially heavenly with a loaf of wholegrain bread and a glass of zin. Eaten in front of a roaring fire … even better!


Special Olympics Snowshoer Prepares to Take on the World

In February 2009, approximately 3000 athletes from around the world will gather in Boise, Idaho to compete in the Special Olympics World Winter Games. Held every 4 years, the World Games are an opportunity for athletes to showcase their athletic skills, sportsmanship and perhaps most of all, their indomitable spirits. British Columbia Special Olympics athlete Bridget Colvin is one of 18 Canadian snowshoe athletes who has progressed through regional, provincial and national competitions to win a coveted spot on Team Canada, and she couldn't be more excited.

Snowshoeing Jasper National Park

I remember a story of a visitor to a well-known park asking the ranger what he should do if he had only one day in the park. The answer: “Sit down and weep”. I fortunately had more than one day on a recent snowshoeing trip to Alberta's Jasper National Park, but the adventure opportunities both on and off snowshoes are so abundant that I could have stayed for weeks.


Snowshoeing in Alberta’s Jasper National Park

I remember a story of a visitor to a well-known park asking the ranger what he should do if he had only one day in the park. The answer: "Sit down and weep." I fortunately had more than one day on a recent snowshoeing trip to Alberta's Jasper National Park, but the adventure opportunities both on and off snowshoes are so abundant that I could have stayed for weeks.


Profile of a Special Olympics Snowshoe Athlete

The Special Olympics Athlete's Oath is "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." In the case of snowshoe athlete Hazen Meade, this bravery is complemented by strong doses of commitment, focus, perseverance and sheer hard work. On February 26, Hazen, who lives in Campbell River on British Columbia's Vancouver Island, will be travelling to Quebec City with Team B.C. to compete in snowshoeing at the 2008 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.

Have Snowshoes, Will Travel – A Snowshoemag.com Blog

Vancouver's North Shore mountains are almost always blessed with copious amounts of snow, and this winter is stellar. On a recent sunny weekend, I snowshoed on a base of snow that was over 4 meters (13 feet) deep. I had never before been in conditions like this and it struck me as being very surreal, especially since many of the trees on the mountain were completely invisible under the snow. I was snowshoeing over top of them. With these snow levels, I have a feeling we may be snowshoeing well into May and June. I couldn't resist snapping several photos.

Gear Review: The Stick

One of the many reasons I fell in love with snowshoeing is because it's a great workout. It's easy to exercise when you're having fun in the snow, and it's also easy to spend an entire day or weekend snowshoeing and savoring winter's scenic splendor. Although I'm generally an active person, I often experience muscle fatigue, stiffness and soreness after a long session on my snowshoes. In my mountainous backyard, those heart-pumping climbs and exhilarating descents leave my quads, hamstrings and assorted other muscles screaming, and not for joy!


Have Snowshoes, Will Travel – A Snowshoemag.com Blog

Manning Provincial Park has the kind of raw pristine nature you want to bottle up and pull out after a long day in a stale office, or while sitting in a traffic jam. You want to breathe that fresh air and look at those snow-covered trees forever. On a recent getaway, we were fortunate to have three full days of snowshoeing in Manning Park. It takes less than three hours to drive from British Columbia's busy Vancouver area to the snowy Cascade mountains of Manning. It's grey and drizzly in Vancouver, but Manning feels worlds away under its blanket of fresh snow.


Gear Review: Deuter Speed Lite 20

One of the ongoing challenges of snowshoeing at varying elevations is finding a functional daypack that snowshoes can quickly be strapped onto, and later removed from, as conditions change. I recently took Deuter's Speed Lite 20 for a spin, and my search is now over.

Gear Review: Kahtoola MICROspikes

One of the things I most admire about Kahtoola is their tendency to think out of the box. Once again they have created a versatile and effective product with their new MICROspikes. The MICROspikes are a system of flex-chain and 3/8 inch spikes attached to a flexible elastomer shoe harness. They are by far the grippiest pocket traction device I have used, yet they do not hinder my normal stride.

Have Snowshoes, Will Travel – A Snowshoemag.com Blog

As the snowshoe season fast approaches, I feel a jolt of anticipation. Yes even more than usual, because after 9 years of living abroad, an opportunity finally arose last spring for my husband Jack and I to move home to Canada, our beloved Great White North. And white it is. When we arrived in April, Vancouver's North Shore Mountains were still covered in several feet of snow. A good system really - spring in the city and winter a few thousand feet up. We can't believe our good fortune.

Have Snowshoes, Will Travel – A Snowshoemag.com Blog

Travel is what we live for. My husband Jack and I constantly peruse maps, guidebooks and the internet in search of that next great destination. The world is a big place, and we greedily want to do it all, leaving little opportunity to return to favorite destinations. There is, however, one spot that we revisit again and again.

Gear Review: Comet Jacket by Isis

Before I even put on the Isis Comet jacket, I had a feeling that I was going to like it. Isis is a company run by two women who create clothing exclusively for women. They support and sponsor several women's events and organizations, and pride themselves on creating clothing that is designed for the specific needs of women.

Gear Review: Kahtoola FLIGHTsystem

Is it possible that Kahtoola, in one fell swoop, has revolutionized the sport of snowshoeing? Through their new FLIGHTsystem, they have eliminated the need for awkward straps, buckles and gaitors, done away with cold wet feet, and made snowshoeing as comfortable as walking around in your favorite running shoes.

Have Snowshoes, Will Travel – A Snowshoemag.com Blog

A recent Saturday finds my husband Jack and I struggling up California's Highway 50 towards the beautiful Lake Tahoe area with the usual masses of weekend warriors. Deservedly popular, Tahoe is bursting with both natural and manmade attractions.

Have Snowshoes, Will Travel – A Snowshoemag.com Blog

We recently spent the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in the small town of Estes Park, Colorado. Showshoers take note: This place is serious winter fun! Estes Park has all the amenities to make it a perfect base for a few days, weeks or months of snowshoeing. In just the few days we were there, I easily compiled a top 10 list.

Have Snowshoes, Will Travel – A Snowshoemag.com Blog

Snowshoe Magazine
I've been lucky enough to score a night for Jack and I at LeConte Lodge, but somehow my well-laid plans are falling to pieces. Situated on top of Mt. LeConte at 6593 feet, one of the highest peaks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, LeConte Lodge can only be reached on foot. The lodge is over 6 trail miles from the nearest road, and the weather in the Smokies has taken a turn. Despite last week's predictions of mainly sunny skies and temperatures in the 40's, an overnight snowfall has closed the road we intend to drive to our trailhead. We are now faced with 2 1/2 hours to drive the necessary alternate route, as opposed to the 1 hour we had anticipated. In addition, with heavy snow on the trails, another delay ensues as I find and purchase a pair of overpriced gaitors. Frustration sets in - traffic moves slowly through rain and snow showers.

Have Snowshoes, Will Travel – A Snowshoemag.com Blog

Snowshoe Magazine
Winter at the Top of the World At this time of year as the winter days lengthen, my thoughts invariably drift north … way north. A few years ago, we spent an early March vacation 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle enjoying the winter splendor of Finnish Lapland. If this sounds like an out-of-the-way destination, it is. Normally a diligent pre-trip researcher, I had uncharacteristically booked this trip last minute with little investigation. It just sounded cool. Imagine my surprise and concern when I was unable to find our precise destination on any of the maps I later checked! This was obviously going to be an adventure.

Have Snowshoes, Will Travel – A Snowshoemag.com Blog

Snowshoe Magazine
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 cliche 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.

Yosemite’s Badger Pass – A Snowshoer’s Paradise

As we gaze out over snow dusted Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Half Dome and numerous other Yosemite landmarks, we catch our breath - both from the exertion of our snowshoe journey and from the stupendous views before us. It's hard to believe there's a place on earth this beautiful. We are standing at Dewey Point, a vertigo-inspiring cliff with a bird's-eye view of one of America's best-loved national parks. Today, on this sunny winter day, we share Dewey Point with half a dozen other snowshoers and a few cross-country skiers. We are close to, but seemingly a world apart from the crowds in Yosemite Valley and at the Badger Pass trailhead.

Destination Methow Valley

Snowshoe Magazine
Abundant snowfall, pine-scented forests, majestic mountain views and an impressive trail system -- the Methow Valley offers all of this and more to a growing population of snowshoe enthusiasts. Located in northern Washington, this winter sports mecca has long drawn an avid following of Nordic skiers. Recently it has also embraced the popularity of snowshoeing, enticing my husband and I to plan a week-long vacation there last January.