Snowshoe Magazine The snowshoeing experience for snowshoers around the world: snowshoe racing, snowshoes, gear reviews, events, recreation, first-timers. Mon, 09 Apr 2018 01:40:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 28162661 Helly Hansen Odin Veor Review Mon, 09 Apr 2018 01:40:59 +0000

Helly Hansen has come up with a cool new way to stay warm and comfortable while snowshoeing and winter hiking. The Odin Veor down jacket might be one of the best jackets available today for active outdoor enthusiasts. It’s a … Continue reading


Helly Hansen has come up with a cool new way to stay warm and comfortable while snowshoeing and winter hiking. The Odin Veor down jacket might be one of the best jackets available today for active outdoor enthusiasts. It’s a very light down parka with an ingenious venting system that works very, very well.

Helly Hansen says the fabric on the coat is 25D down-proof, lightweight with DWR
90/10 Goose down with 800 fill-power (Allied Down). That makes it warm, but not suffocatingly so. It’s not what I would call a “standing-around” jacket… this puppy is designed to keep you warm while you’re on the move. Mind you, I find it isn’t bad while just lounging outside, to temperatures down to about -15 Celsius.

The strength of the jacket, though, lies in what the company describes as “strategically placed back airflow baffles and front zipper vents. The baffles on the back are smartly covered up by overlapping fabric, while the front zipper chest vents are easily accessible on their own. Once you open those vents, more-than-adequate ventilation begins immediately.

The system reminds me of a Misty Mountain three-in-one jacket I purchased about 20 years ago with somewhat similar zippered vents. That system never worked as well as I thought it should, but Helly Hansen has gone a long ways toward making its version nearly ideal. I also have a heavy down parka made by Columbia Sportswear featuring the same concept, which also doesn’t work quite as well.

The jacket has the “versatility to be worn under a shell or on its own,” the company literature says, and that’s definitely true. It’s such a thin, light coat it would be easy to put a shell over it, especially in wet conditions, although I haven’t had to do so yet. I’ve worn it snowshoeing in temperatures down to -18 C, and the system really does work to curtail sweating. My biggest problem while snowshoeing is always trying to avoid overheating, and the Odin Veor does that about as well as anything I’ve tried.

I’ve also used it extensively while shovelling my 100-meter laneway, and it’s ideal for that as well. That’s the only time so far I’ve been able to work up a real sweat in it, and it’s been far better than anything else I’ve tried. That’s not to say there isn’t some room for improvement. The Odin Veor lacks a double-zipper, which is always desirable, particularly for a longer coat. I’ve been puzzled for years as to why it isn’t a standard feature on a winter jacket. Such a zipper is always a welcome convenience while fiddling with snowshoe harnesses.

The hood is very functional, convenient and warm, but I find the system to tighten the shock cords inconvenient. It’s very similar to my Columbia heavy down parka, which I’ve never liked at all. The system just doesn’t come intuitively to me. The fit of the jacket is also fairly good, although I would suggest it could be slightly looser, more akin to an Icefall jacket I have that is also made by Helly Hansen, but that’s me being picky. I’m stocky enough that a regular/athletic fit doesn’t suit me as well as it might.

The jacket also features mammoth hand-warmer pockets and a stuff suck that will come in handy to back-country types. All in all, this is a jacket that a lot of people will want.

T.S. Giilck

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Faber S-line Snowshoes Review Sun, 01 Apr 2018 23:07:01 +0000 Faber Snowshoes deserve a large round of applause for an innovative re-invention of the snowshoe. The company’s S-series is simply a pleasure to use. It’s a sliding snowshoe that shows the evolution towards skis that’s going to appeal to many … Continue reading

Faber Snowshoes deserve a large round of applause for an innovative re-invention of the snowshoe. The company’s S-series is simply a pleasure to use. It’s a sliding snowshoe that shows the evolution towards skis that’s going to appeal to many people.

The concept is superficially similar to the Marquette Back Country ski series, which I had the chance to try out a few years ago. However, as Michael Faber told me during our discussions about the model, Marquette’s concept was to make a ski more like a snowshoe. Faber has taken its legendary snowshoe expertise and turned it toward building a snowshoe that moves a bit like a cross-country ski, and that’s a huge difference. If you come from a snowshoeing background, chances are good you will find this preferable to the Marquettes.

Although I do a bit of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing had always been my first love when it comes to winter sports. I’m just not coordinated enough to manage skis properly, and my thrashing around on them leaves me quickly winded and tired. Increasingly, though, following a couple of surgeries and medical problems that have affected my hips and pelvis, snowshoeing has become a bit more difficult for me.

I am also difficult to size for snowshoes, as my build is peculiar. I am short and heavy, with even more disproportionately-short legs. My weight requires bigger snowshoes for floatation, which puts added strain on my hips. I’ve spent the last 2.5 months trying out a pair of the S-series, and I’ve been delighted with them because they solve most of those problems.

They are quite narrow for a snowshoe, lessening the demands on my hips. They offer great floatation in powdery, fluffy snow. And once I caught on to the proper semi-gliding stride that requires virtually no lifting, I was even more pleased with how (relatively) effortless they seemed. The lack of lifting, unlike a regular snowshoe, is one of the defining features of the S-line. The motion is not quite a cross-country ski glide but is more of a distant cousin. While researching the S-line, I watched several videos, including one of a man who appeared to be in his 50s or 60s, dashing through the snow and apparently having a grand time. I’m not quite that good on them yet.

One of the most innovative features of the S-line shoes is removable plastic skins. There are nine different combinations possible, from no skins at all to full grip skins on the front and rear of the snowshoes. The skins help add grip when necessary, or to glide and slide when wanted. They are an awesome addition to the S-line, although they do make for a little more work. I’ve tried all the possible combinations, and most often stick with the medium-grip skins, which seem ideal for most conditions.

Another of the videos I watched shows a man using the S-line skis and changing the skins on the go in the field without removing them. I don’t have anywhere near the dexterity and agility to do that, but it would be a helpful skill to master. The S-line shoes also have wings on the mainframe to provide extra grip beyond the skins, and that’s a welcome addition.

I have only minor criticisms of the S-line shoes. The first is the toe-cap on the harnesses, which needs to be enlarged somewhat. If the boots you are using with them have enough of a rocker toe/sole, it’s possible for your toe to pop right over the top of the caps, and that will create quite a problem in deep snow. Otherwise, the ratchetings harness is very simple to use and exceptionally adjustable.

The only other difficulty I encountered came in side-slippage on harder-packed snow. It’s been an extremely variable winter here in Southern Ontario, ranging from two meters of fluffy snow over Christmas to hard, icy snow that’s managed to survive four thaws so far.

Ordinarily, the S-line shoes are extremely stable and comfortable, but several times on hard-pack they slid sideways unexpectedly. That makes me a little dubious as to how they would perform on icier slopes, but no snowshoe works perfectly in every condition. My wife also tried the S-line out on several occasions, and absolutely loved them. Two of her three favourite models of snowshoes (the North Cliff being the other) have been made by Faber. I’m probably going to have to resign myself to having access to these ‘shoes only on a part-time basis.

So, should anyone who likes snowshoes try the S-line? Definitely… and you might find yourself stripping down your snowshoe collection afterwards.

T.S. Giilck

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MSR Gear Guide Sat, 31 Mar 2018 18:06:01 +0000 MSR makes a wide range of products including snowshoes. This guide will focus on MSR’s top notch snowshoeing products. For other MSR products, see Other products at the end of the article.

MSR Snowshoes

MSR snowshoes, in … Continue reading

MSR Brand Overview

MSR makes a wide range of products including snowshoes. This guide will focus on MSR’s top notch snowshoeing products. For other MSR products, see Other products at the end of the article.

MSR Snowshoes

MSR snowshoes, in my humble opinion (not a snowshoe expert by any means), are excellent all-around snowshoes. For powder, end-of-season ice, off-trail, backcountry, first-timers, or hill-climbing MSR snowshoes will get the job done. In many cases, better than any other snowshoes. Below is the list of all MSR snowshoes currently available for sale.

Lightning™ Ascent Snowshoes

Updated for 2017: The pinnacle of ultralight and aggressive all-terrain performance.

Our ultralight snowshoes are built on a solid foundation of our advanced 360° Traction™ frames and deliver a level of security that tubular frames simply can’t—especially on traverses. Dual-component PosiLock™ AT bindings offer our most secure attachment, while rugged decking ensures long-lasting durability. In technical terrain, the snowshoes’ steel cross members and easily engaged Ergo™ Televators back you up with every step. And like all of our snowshoes, Lightning Ascents offer the all-condition adaptability of our Modular Flotation tails.

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Womens Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

Updated for 2017: Ultralight and aggressive performance engineered for a narrow gait.

What began as a solution for women has become the top choice of anyone with a narrow gait, or those seeking the lightest possible alternative in this aggressive snowshoe. We engineered our Women’s 360° Traction™ frames in conjunction with a renowned expert in athletic biomechanics, resulting in a lower-profile frame that saves weight and improves agility with narrow gaits. Paired with our PosiLock™ AT bindings to create our most secure attachment, new tougher decking, and the easily engaged Ergo™ Televators, they’ll back you up with every step.

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Revo™ Ascent Snowshoes

Updated for 2017: Rock-solid durability, security and all-terrain snowshoe performance.

Our rugged Revo Ascent snowshoes are engineered to take you anywhere you want—or need—to go. That confidence starts with their ExoTract™ deck, which combines external steel teeth for gripping the contours of slopes, with supreme durability, and the torsional flex of plastic for excellent purchase. Steep terrain demands the security of our PosiLock™ AT bindings and Ergo™ Televators heel lifts, while the snowshoe’s reinforced nose and new higher-strength crampon withstand challenging conditions.

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Evo™ Ascent Snowshoes

All-around performance, versatility and value for off-trail hiking.

Evo Ascent snowshoes are true all-around performers for those seeking to venture off-trail into more variable backcountry terrain. Their rugged UniBody™ decks provide workhorse durability and all-condition traction, while TriFit™ bindings enhance foot security on uneven slopes. When the going gets steep, built-in Televator heel lifts reduce calf fatigue to save precious energy. The evolution of our legendary Denali snowshoes, Evo Ascent snowshoes offer the quality and reliability of our finest snowshoes in an exceptional value for more aggressive winter hikers.

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Women’s Revo™ Ascent Snowshoes

Updated for 2017: Rock-solid durability, security for smaller boots and all-terrain snowshoe performance.

Our Women’s Revo Ascent snowshoes deliver the same powerful grip, security and supreme durability of our men’s model—yet do so in a lower-profile design that gives those with a narrow stride better agility through the snow. The external traction teeth of the ExoTract™ deck ensure control, especially in rugged terrain. Its plastic foundation delivers unrelenting durability along with torsional for excellent purchase. With the Women’s ultra-secure PosiLock™ AT bindings and Ergo™ Televator heel-lifts, the Women’s Revo Ascent snowshoes deliver tenacious performance for any adventure.

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Lightning™ Explore Snowshoes

Updated for 2017: Ultralight performance meets all-day comfort.

Lightning Explore snowshoes represent a giant leap in snowshoeing performance, ease and comfort. It begins with the elite performance of our 360° Traction™ frames, featuring advanced, edge-to-edge grip. Next, new HyperLink™ bindings feature a redesigned fast and easy ratchet system and get a comfort boost from EVA foam cushions that cradle the foot. Finally, you get the benefit of our Ergo™ Televators for steeper slopes, and add-on Modular Flotation tails—all to provide the versatility you need to enjoy a broad range of snowshoeing experiences.

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Women’s Lightning™ Explore Snowshoes

Updated for 2017: Advanced snowshoeing efficiency and comfort, engineered for a narrow gait.

Lightning Explore snowshoes represent a giant leap in snowshoeing performance, ease and comfort. It begins with the elite performance of our 360° Traction™ frames, featuring advanced, edge-to-edge grip. Next, new HyperLink™ bindings feature a redesigned fast and easy ratchet system and get a comfort boost from EVA foam cushions that cradle the foot. Finally, you get the benefit of our Ergo™ Televators for steeper slopes, and add-on Modular Flotation tails—all to provide the versatility you need to enjoy a broad range of snowshoeing experiences.

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Revo™ Explore Snowshoes

Updated for 2017: Rugged durability and the exceptional comfort and ease of use that long hikes demand.

With our rugged ExoTract™ deck as their foundation, Revo Explore snowshoes deliver confidence-inspiring performance underfoot, and bring the advanced comfort our new HyperLink™ bindings, making them a top choice for winter hikers. The bindings’ new EVA foam cushions maximize comfort, while the redesigned ratchet system now makes getting in and out of them a breeze. With add-on Modular Flotation tails and the added support of Ergo Televators for steeper pitches, Revo Explore snowshoes are built for all-day adventures, both on the trail and off.

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Women’s Revo™ Explore Snowshoes

Updated for 2017: Same supreme durability with better agility for those with a narrow stride.

With our rugged ExoTract™ deck as their foundation, Women’s Revo Explore snowshoes deliver confidence-inspiring performance underfoot, and bring the advanced comfort our new HyperLink™ bindings, making them a top choice for winter hikers. The bindings’ new EVA foam cushions maximize comfort, while the redesigned ratchet system now makes getting in and out of them a breeze. With add-on Modular Floatation tails and the added support of Ergo Televators for steeper pitches, Revo Explore snowshoes are built for all-day adventures, both on the trail and off.

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Lightning™ Trail Snowshoes

Ultralight efficiency and adaptability over rolling terrain.

The Lightning Trail snowshoes are custom-built for maximum traction and efficiency over rolling terrain. They pack the performance of our light and aggressive 360° Traction™ frames and pair it with the refined simplicity of our DuoFit™ bindings for lightweight comfort and control–a perfect match for logging miles over hours or days.

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Women’s Lightning™ Trail Snowshoes

Our lightest snowshoes, engineered for a narrow gait.

The Women’s Lightning Trail snowshoes are custom-built for maximum efficiency over rolling terrain. Our lightest snowshoe, they pack the performance of our aggressive and low-profile women’s 360° Traction™ frames and pair it with the refined simplicity of our DuoFit™ bindings for lightweight comfort and control–a perfect match for logging miles over hours or days.

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Revo™ Trail Snowshoes

All-condition durability and essential security to tackle flat or rolling terrain.

Whether the trail’s conditions are crust, slush or ice, you can trust the all-condition durability and excellent grip of our new Revo Trail snowshoes to carry you along. The Revo Trail snowshoes’ ExoTract™ deck combines advanced external traction walls with plastic’s unique torsional flex for solid control. Its streamlined simplicity is lightened by our DuoFit™ bindings, which offer essential security, regardless of the trail’s character. And their rugged construction withstands frequent use, delivering many days of adventure season after season.

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Women’s Revo™ Trail Snowshoes

All-condition durability, with a slimmed-up profile for agility with a narrow stride.

Whether the trail’s conditions are crust, slush or ice, you can trust the all-condition durability and excellent grip of our new Women’s Revo Trails to carry you along. The Women’s Revo Trail snowshoes’ ExoTract™ deck combines advanced external traction walls with plastic’s unique torsional flex for solid control. Its streamlined simplicity is lightened by our DuoFit™ bindings, which offer essential security, regardless of the trail’s character. And their rugged construction withstands frequent use, delivering many days of adventure season after season.

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Evo™ Snowshoes

Legendary dependability built for the trail.

Our classic Evo snowshoes remain a favorite of snowshoers around the world, delivering MSR’s legendary dependability, built for the trail. With traction bars molded into its UniBody deck, it offers the essential grip needed for even modest slopes in less than ideal conditions. We hold it to the same standard for stability and control, and the weather-resistant, DuoFit™ binding delivers that in spades on rolling terrain, making this the hands-down best value going for trail walking and all-condition day use.

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Shift™ Youth Snowshoes

Delivering premium performance to young adventurers.

The Shift snowshoe is engineered for adventurous preteens, providing them with the same performance and features of our adult shoes for maximum fun and safety while snowshoeing. For parents who seek to share their passion for the outdoors, the Shift snowshoe offers the priceless benefit of top-level MSR performance, ensuring their kids have the full opportunity to enjoy the experience.

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Tyker™ Kid’s Snowshoes

Durable, easy-to-use snowshoes for kids.

A kid-sized version of our strong, reliable Denali™ snowshoes, these easy-to-use snowshoes are intended for children who weigh up to 90 pounds (41 kg). They feature steel crampons and kid-friendly molded traction bars for great all-around traction and added safety.

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MSR Snowshoe Accessories

Here is the list of MSR snowshoeing accessories. If you have a pair of MSR snowshoes or are looking to buy a pair, check them out.

Hyperlink™ Replacement Straps
Lightning™ Tails
Revo™ Tails
Evo™ Tails
Snowshoe Bag
MSR ® Snowshoe Maintenance Kit
SpeedLock™ Instep Strap
PosiLock™ AT/SpeedLock™ Strap Kit – 14″
PosiLock™ AT/SpeedLock™ Strap Kit – 18″
MSR® Classic Snowshoe Strap Kit – 12 in. (30 cm)
MSR® Classic Snowshoe Strap Kit – 18 in. (46 cm)
Standard Strap Keepers

MSR Snow Accessories

Also, here is outdoor gear you should consider if you are going out in the snow.

Striker™ CX 320 Prob
Striker™ 320 Probe
Striker™ 240 Probe
Responder™ Snow Science & Rescue Shovel
Operator™ Backcountry & Basecamp Shovel
Basecamp™ Snow Shelter Saw
Beta™ Snow Science Saw
Snow Fluke

MSR Other Outdoor Gear

Water Treatment
Global Health

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Kissing the Bridge: JackRabbit’s Snowshoe Race Series Sun, 18 Mar 2018 18:37:07 +0000 The JackRabbit Snowshoe Race Series is so fast… the five weeks of competition are already over! There’s hardly enough time to notice, much less enjoy, all the upgrades at the Kissing Bridge Snow Area. Plus, check out the new Kissing … Continue reading

The JackRabbit Snowshoe Race Series is so fast… the five weeks of competition are already over! There’s hardly enough time to notice, much less enjoy, all the upgrades at the Kissing Bridge Snow Area. Plus, check out the new Kissing Bridge logoed merchandise, particularly if it was your spouse with whom you enjoyed a smooch.

Fierce racing at the North Lodge Trails

The events toed the start line on Monday nights, a 6:30 pm launch, not on the weekends, unique in the world of snowshoe racing. The five-race schedule ranging from one-to-three miles in the “long course” category allows a heart-pounding quickie that ends early on a work night. These scrambles gallop a torrid pace. You may prefer to wear a headlight in the daylight saving’s dark.

Overall gold medal winner Tom Williams accumulated a total time of 52:36 for five races, ranging from a short 11:35 in race 4 to the longer race 5 in 15:30. Four finishes qualify one for a possible medal.

Over 100 years old, this postcard shows the Kissing Bridge in its historic glory.

Two others on the overall podium broke an hour: Brian Fraser (56:03 for 5) landing the silver place and Scott Thompson (57:47 with 5) standing with bronze. Charlie Anderson (5) and Christopher Smykal (4) rounded out the top 5 men.

Winning the overall women’s class, Danielle Podeszek raced four events for a time total of 1:03:28. Juli Hergenroder (4) nailed second in 1:18:10 while Mellisa Melnik (4) snatched third in her cumulative time of 1:21:30.

Heather McGonigle raced all five events registering an aggregate of 1:22:08. Sue Gallagher (5) with 1:24:19 rounded out the top five.

23 competitors qualified for a ranking, meaning they raced and finished four or more events. The JackRabbit Snowshoe Race Series completed sanctioning by the United States Snowshoe Association (USSSA).

A layout even a bunny would enjoy, the Short Course of a mile or so recorded Joe Silliman in 5 races finishing 27:03, Kevin Knoll (4) 41:40 and Fran Warthling 46:48 (4) for the podium. Fred Whipple (4) and Ed Russell (3) rounded the top 5.

Heather Burger won the Short overall in a list of 32:53 (5) while Siobhan Davis (5) at 41:22 took silver. Jessica Deren’s 42:24 winning the “Best Palindrome” award for her times in 4 races, earned the bronze.

A sweet 16 in both Short Course categories gathered times in four or more competitions giving them official finishes.

95 hares raced at least one of the events in the series this year. Here are the final results.

On awards night, DJ duties found the Yeti crawling in out of the chill choosing the songs. Notable titles included “Cold as Ice” by Foreigner, the Kiss tune “Cold Gin,” no doubt referring to cotton, the more modern Foo

The New Age Yeti sneaks out on a bicycle!

Fighters “Cold Day in the Sun,” while Dolly Parton waxed poetic in “Baby, it’s Cold Outside,” which it can easily be in near her childhood home in Sevierville, Tennessee. The Yeti might be too young to remember Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart” but was favoring Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice, Baby” all night. 

Kissing Bridge’s Western New York history extends back to the 1970’s where current President, Richard Fanelli recalls “walking to the YMCA ski buses that picked me and my sisters up in Nativity’s parking lot on Fridays in the late 70’s, to the infamous ‘Late Nite Great Nite’s.'” Blessed with lake effect snows, he pushes summer activities with new improvements while welcoming some of the best terrains for winter sports like snowshoeing.

Most snowshoe races go left-or-right, not straight up at Kissing Bridge “Entrants do not summit the mountain but the courses are not flat”

The informative KB Times include schedules and vital information about this winter wonderland including articles you may not find elsewhere. Take Jill Gugino’s “Confessions of a Former Hockey Mom” who claims in her tongue-in-cheek story to be a reformed hockey mom, 8 years clean and fully present. Best line? “I tried in vain to keep my other two boys entertained as their brother followed his–my husband’s–dream of becoming a million dollar (NHL professional) player.”

How about the guy who makes the snow (while Mother Nature takes a break)? Read “Behind the guns: A Snowmaker’s Perspective” for such insights as “This winter while you sleep our dedicated crew will be working all night to make snow, open the hills you love, and groom them to perfection.”

Tricia Mangan offers a compelling story why it is so important to take advantage of the snow fun whether on snowshoes, skis, boards, or your kazoo. Titled “Western New York, Where it All Began,” she shares her story as a three-year-old twin with her brother in small skis with the tips “tied together, (while parents) let us go at the top of the Bunny Hill.” Now she continues “to chase my dream of World Cup and Olympic success.”

Next year’s series tentatively schedules a start Monday, January 7, through the five-week conclusion February 4. Scramble on to the North Lodge and get your race on.


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The Claw Patrol: MSR’s Lightning™ Ascent Snowshoes Sun, 25 Feb 2018 19:03:00 +0000 The engineering peak of adventure snowshoes, Lightning™ Ascents top the list of snowshoes outdoor enthusiasts need to choose when it really, really matters.

Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters used Lightning Ascents to reach “the horizontal Everest” (photo courtesy Eric Larsen)

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The engineering peak of adventure snowshoes, Lightning™ Ascents top the list of snowshoes outdoor enthusiasts need to choose when it really, really matters.

Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters used Lightning Ascents to reach “the horizontal Everest” (photo courtesy Eric Larsen)

Outfitted with features creating one’s squad of support on snowshoes, thus The Claw Patrol, an adventurer tackles the deepest and most challenging winter treks with high confidence inspired by Mountain Safety Research (MSR). Nearly 50 years ago engineer and summiteer Larry Penberthy formed his own team, call it an inventive patrol of “unruly dreamers,” defining “precision engineering” for extreme outdoor quests. Then in 1995:

“Working from a concept by renowned inventor and big wall climber Bill Forrest, and developed using MSR technology and engineering, the original Denali snowshoes revolutionized the snowshoe industry.”

From that snowshoe cosmic big bang in the mid-1990s evolved the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes, decoupling the sport from traditional thinking. Today we might refer to them as ingenious disrupters of the highest sort.

Note the upright Ergo™ Televators and red DTX crampons on the Lightning™ Ascent Snowshoes

Lifting these cobalt blue-jewels from their box, one begins to understand their feeling of timbre and design. Your Claw Patrol begins with wrap-around ratchets, “a vertical wall of traction” MSR notes, creating a box of grip underfoot. Three cross-members of the same “ultralight aerospace-grade” 7000 series aluminum add to the horizontal hold capacity. In ungroomed heavy snow conditions, my tests found no excessive slipping or sliding even with steep climbs or cutting trail off-camber. That frees a snowshoer, as the Mama’s and Papa’s sang, to “go where you want to go, do what you want to do” in the steepest of terrains without fear of skidding down or worse, falling off.

You own the tundra you want to cover.

An awesome member of your patrol, Ergo™ Televators, flip-up underfoot, about mid-heel, and essentially change a climb from vertical to more like stair steps. The snowshoe stays on the snow, but the foot points into a steep pitch allowing the toe crampons to reach max grip. Now you can challenge long climbs that beforehand wore out calves, hamstrings, and endurance. Now attack with far less energy expended. When the trek encompasses long distances in difficult terrain, spending less effort accomplishing it offers a key advantage to realizing the destination.

One uses climbing poles to yank a Televator up and pop it back down, or merely stoops with a gloved finger to maneuver it.

I tested the idea of going down smaller hills with the Televators engaged as most long climbs involve up-and-downs along the way. I just sat back on the ‘shoes and found that works swell. So, on the climb immediately following a downhill I could just trudge on up with no stopping required. If encountering a long, long downhill, I’m clicking the Televators to their rest position.

Steep climbs, a hallmark advantage of the Lightning Ascent snowshoe (photo courtesy MSR)

Lightning™ Ascent’s DTX—meaning “Durable Traction”—red crampons received an essential upgrade with more durable and thicker martensite steel. Understanding the process occurring inside MSR’s engineering and manufacturing complex empowers you, the adventurer. When caught in blizzard conditions, for example, the confidence in your claw patrol, the knowledge of the quality and thought designed into this team, provide grains of resolute determination that just may save you. That’s where the best equipment excels.

The crampons on all MSR snowshoes are made of martensite steel,  a class of very hard carbon steel that gains its strength through its rapid cooling process. It starts out as a solid carbon and iron crystalline structure. When heated to 1250 degrees and then forced to cool rapidly, its carbon atoms become trapped inside the iron atoms. This changes the shape of its crystals, greatly increasing the steel’s strength and rigidity.

Martensite’s hardness makes it a popular steel when resistance to abrasion, high stress, and deformation is crucial.

These components are engineered and manufactured at our Seattle Headquarters. The crampons and traction rails are precision-cut on a large laser cutter. Then, the crampons are formed by a programmable bending machine that configures the steel into the final crampon shape, ready to be mounted to the rest of the snowshoe.

Without supporting cold weather gear for your snowshoes,  success on a trek likely will not end in the way you want.

“Remember, the crampon of a snowshoe is only one small part of its assembly,” says Anthony Gervais, design engineer for MSR. “So the lighter it is, the better. Martensite’s strength-to-weight ratio makes it great for crampons that will be subjected to harsh environments.”

Buried in the research on martensite steel find this reveal providing keys to the design attitude of MSR and their approach to creating ultra-quality products:

Choosing the right materials for a product is absolutely critical to its performance and durability, and it’s a job that our product developers spend a great deal of time and energy on. That’s why, from their lightweight decks to their freeze-resistant bindings and rock-solid crampons, MSR snowshoes are made to deliver the safety, reliability, and efficiency required in the winter backcountry.

For the remarkable history of MSR innovation from 1973-2007, check this list. Innovation continues to accelerate with new areas of interest and then thoughtful, clever solutions to those needs. MSR says it this way: “We are engineers, tinkerers, and passionate outdoor users–each with strong perspectives on how a product should work based on our own experiences in the wild places we love. But collectively, we believe that innovative solutions are bred by challenging convention, and that functionality, simplicity, and reliability are the governing elements of enduring design.

The Modular Floatation add-ons are buried somewhere in the snow, but you can see the pull-on assist. I like tucking in pant legs but in the brush, Mother Nature may reach out and foul that particular plan. (photo Ultra Superior Media)

Click this 2018 video to enjoy Lightning™ Ascent Snowshoes’  Design Engineer Steve Schwennsen. Learn the improved geometry of the individual red teeth crampons and more.

Posilock AT (all-terrain) bindings join your Claw Patrol team by easing the process of inserting boots or running shoes in the bindings and keeping them there. The open side of the strap’s buckle simplifies the process of tightening “The Ties That Bind” while channeling your inner E Street Band. Start with the middle one and simply lift your foot to set the tab in the binding.

Glove-friendly, the durable urethane remains flexible to -20°. Stainless steel, inset-molded hardware eliminates pressure points for all-day comfort.

Secure the excess strap in the clip that easily moves to where you need it.

A beautiful day to trek on snowshoes (photo courtesy MSR)

Happily, bindings come in separate models to fit both women’s and men’s footwear. Women’s models are 4.5W to 14W while men’s fit 4.5M to 15M with an 18-inch strap accessory available.

I call it The Extender, but MSR chooses the professional title of Modular Flotation. Its use is the same: increasing the total float of the Lightning™ Ascent five inches by simply (and I mean simply) clipping it on and pulling a holding tab over the back floor of the snowshoe. The ease and simplicity of the design remind one of an engineering marvel; no buckles to snap or complexity to deal with at all. A video makes the process easier, too. View it here. The additional flotation tames deep snow while offering the option of a larger load if that is a necessity. The extenders offer a snowshoer flexibility and choices when heading out on a trek. Put them in your pack when not in use so they’re always handy. There are no sharp points to rip gear.

Showing the Lightning™ Ascents with size 14 boots comfortably strapped in, plenty of room for larger profile boots, the Modular Floaters adding that extra flotation for new and deeper snows. Note the Ergo Televators engaged under the boots. (photo Ultra Superior Media)

The durable decking crafted from a special die-cut polyurethane finds 18 points of riveting to each frame, increasing hold while securing redundancy if by chance ever needed. Accounts from the Arctic and Antarctic explorers prove things and situations can twist horribly wrong; using top-notch equipment provides the fundamental base to survive those challenges.

This high tensile fabric is what makes the Lightning™ Ascent snowshoe so lightweight and flexible, yet also durable. No cut-and-paste here, rather a methodically cut and riveted decking that attaches in precise angle to tension the frame for proper flex and function.

Three lengths of 22-, 25- and 30-inch offer a snowshoer unisex choices based on one’s weight expected load and personal preference. I tested the 22. Having raced in traditional, nearly 60″ wooden snowshoes, trekking with those 30s and the five more Modular Flotation inches attached seems like a lot of fun.

Read what must be the most creative snowshoe owner’s guide in the industry included with each MSR pair. The company’s creativity shows in the clever way the information literally unfolds, opens, and closes with small tabs. Easy to understand instructions presented in an organized, professional way enable one to get underway with less muss and fuss.

Reaching the geographic North Pole on May 6, 2014, setting a new American speed record, Eric Larsen and expedition partner Ryan Waters used Lightning™ Ascents for the 53 “grueling days” it took. He wrote on the adventure known as Last North:

In 1995, Reinhold Messner, easily the most accomplished mountaineer of all time, called his unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole the horizontal Everest. The entire mass moves slowly from the pole toward Canada, the U.S., and Greenland. In fact, waking up each morning, we were usually quite distraught after checking our GPS—losing up to three miles of forward progress while we slept. It is not with the least bit of overstatement that I say reaching the pole was in large part due to our MSR gear. We could not have reached the pole without these snowshoes. With our sleds weighing nearly 320 pounds at the start, the only way we could get enough traction over the rough terrain was by using the Lightning™ Ascents. Despite taking the brunt of all our effort—bashing into ice chunks constantly—they looked nearly new at the end of our journey. 

Perhaps the “Last North” unsupported, unaided expedition crossing the Arctic to reach the North Pole with Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters

The Claw Patrol traveled with Larsen and Waters in extreme conditions. Having the same Lightning™ Ascent patrol team with you—those blue-jewel frames, the ratchets, the Televators, the DTX crampons, the Posilock, the riveted decking, the Extender—provides the characters needed for successful long-distance treks, destination hikes, or just some time in the woods.

5 inches may not seem much, but when viewed top-down as the Lightning™ Ascents rest against a tree, the Modular Floatation difference pops. (photo Ultra Superior Media)

Simply the best-engineered snowshoe available, with options that would make a Range Rover owner envious, take to the snow in all conditions with confidence and support. The company, now with production in Ireland along with its home in Seattle, supports global snowshoeing and endurance sporting equipment.

Living the talk, and snowshoeing the walk, take the MSR hint and trek your trek with Lightning™ Ascent.

What are your trekking experiences? Write

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Annual Snowshoe Thompson Celebration set for Feb. 24 Fri, 16 Feb 2018 04:52:08 +0000 For nearly two decades, residents of the Lake Tahoe area have celebrated the legend of Snowshoe Thompson. Dubbed the Mailman of the Sierra, John A. “Snowshoe” Thompson carried mail between Placerville, Calif. and Genoa, Nev. for 20 grueling years, twice … Continue reading

For nearly two decades, residents of the Lake Tahoe area have celebrated the legend of Snowshoe Thompson. Dubbed the Mailman of the Sierra, John A. “Snowshoe” Thompson carried mail between Placerville, Calif. and Genoa, Nev. for 20 grueling years, twice a month during the winters between 1856 and 1876.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, the Friends of Snowshoe Thompson will hold the 18th annual Snowshoe Thompson Ski and Snowshoe Celebration at Lake Tahoe Golf Course from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Thompson’s mail carrier career began shortly after he responded to an advertisement in the Sacramento Union newspaper: “People Lost to the World; Uncle Sam Needs a Mail Carrier.” Thompson would become the only winter mail link across the Sierra for the next two decades, until rail lines were eventually laid through the peaks.

A few years ago, writer Frank Tortorich published a book on the colorful life of Snowshoe Thompson. In his book “John A. ‘Snowshoe’ Thompson, Pioneer Mail Carrier of the Sierra,” Tortorich describes how Thompson acquired the nickname ‘Snowshoe. When Thompson first donned his handmade oak skis that weighed 25 pounds and stretched to nearly 10 feet long, folks back then called his skis Norwegian snowshoes, thus the nickname. Thompson was born in Norway and moved to the U.S. when he was 10 years old.

A special program on using long skis (longboard) will be presented by ski instructor Nina MacLeod, a long-time Tahoe resident, avid skier, and fellow organizer of the annual Snowshoe Thompson celebration. MacLeod clarifies that “Snowshoe Thompson did not use longboards, which are between 12 and 16 feet long. That was what the miners used back then to entertain themselves! Thompson’s skis were a little more like 8-9 feet in length. I like to include a demonstration of longboards in the celebration just to give visitors a feel for what it’s like to be on skis that long.”

While MacLeod was born in Oslo, Snowshoe Thompson came from a nearby town of Tinn, which is the Telemark region of Norway. MacLeod found inspiration for starting the Snowshoe Thompson celebration when she made a discovery nearly 20 years ago. “In Norway, after learning of the accomplishments of Thompson in the U.S., they began holding an annual 20-kilometer cross-country ski tour on Palm Sunday in his honor. It’s a very popular event with an average of 600-800 participants, spanning 5-80 years old. It’s a great event, and I participated twice.”

Snowshoe Thompson-statue in Mormon Station State Park Genoa, Nevada – photo courtesy of Kim Harris

Program highlights

Other activities to highlight the legacy of Snowshoe Thompson include a performance by singer-musician Richard Blair. The local artist keeps the past alive by singing about the past, and his popularity proves it. Author Frank Tortorich will offer a discussion centered on his book “John A. ‘Snowshoe’ Thompson, Pioneer Mail Carrier of the Sierra.” Also, 97-year-old Martin Hollay, a local ski legend, will be on hand to share stories from his 25-year career as a member of Heavenly Mountain Resort’s ski patrol. Last winter, he skied 100 days!

Chautauqua performer Steve Hale has been presenting historical figures from the Lake Tahoe region for almost two decades. His performance of John “Snowshoe” Thompson should not be missed. Hale has performed at state parks in northern California, for the Norwegian consulate at the Squaw Valley dedication of a statue of “Snowshoe” Thompson, nonprofit fundraising events, and U.S. Forest Service interpretive programs.

If the 18th annual Snowshoe Thompson Ski and Snowshoe Celebration isn’t enough, the Lake Tahoe Historical Society offers more details about the life and times of Snowshoe Thompson. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Lake Tahoe Historical Society museum includes exhibits on pioneer and farm displays, ice cutting and logging, mail delivery systems by the Pony Express and Snowshoe Thompson, and more.

Snowshoe Thompson mural, Placerville, California

The family-friendly event is sponsored by the Friends of Snowshoe Thompson, with support from Lake Tahoe Golf Course, Douglas County Historical Society, Lake Tahoe Historical Society, and the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce.

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Winter Exploring in Alberta’s Provincial Parks, Canada Fri, 02 Feb 2018 02:33:18 +0000 When most people think of provincial or state parks, they think of camping and hiking, of vehicles loaded down with boats and bikes, and of families heading out for a summer weekend away at their favourite lake.

Travel north to … Continue reading

When most people think of provincial or state parks, they think of camping and hiking, of vehicles loaded down with boats and bikes, and of families heading out for a summer weekend away at their favourite lake.

Travel north to Alberta, Canada, and discover that the fun doesn’t end when the snow starts falling. The five parks featured in this story excel at providing opportunities for year-round adventure from snowshoeing to fat biking, ice skating, skiing, and other winter activities guaranteed to make you feel like a child again (or at least a child at heart.)

Snowshoeing in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country


5 Alberta Provincial Parks to Explore this Winter


One. Cypress Hills Provincial Park, Southern Alberta

Cypress Hills Provincial Park  is located on the Alberta side of Cypress Hills Inter-Provincial Park (a park that shares a border with the province of Saskatchewan.) Accommodations are available in nearby Medicine Hat or in the Town of Elkwater at the Elkwater Lake Lodge and Resort. For the adventurous, there are also five backcountry huts that offer cozy and affordable lodging with easy access on either skis or snowshoes. We hiked into the Tom Trott Hut in February and it was a very easy 3-mile distance on snow covered roads.

This is Alberta’s only provincial park with backcountry huts available for skiers and hikers

The main winter activities in Cypress Hills Provincial Park include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on 40+ miles of park trails along with downhill skiing at the nearby Hidden Valley Ski Resort. For my family, the highlight of our visit was ice skating in the Old Baldy Campground on a loop that the park converts into a mile-long skating track. We also loved the luge track that the park builds for the kids. Sleds and helmets are provided in a warming hut beside the track, so you can just show up and play.

Ice Skating in Cypress Hills Provincial Park

Other winter activities include ice fishing, kick sledding (with rentals available in the park,) fat biking (permitted on most park trails,) and winter camping. And, if you think that kick sledding sounds cool, this is the only provincial park in Alberta with rentals available inside the park.

Finally, make sure you stop in at the Camp Cookhouse for lunch or dinner while there. I cannot say enough about the chili cheese fries!

Hiking amongst frosty trees along the Horseshoe Canyon Trail


Two. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country in Southern Alberta

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is an ideal destination for a day trip from the nearby City of Calgary. The drive takes approximately an hour and a half, and is very scenic as you travel down Highway 40 past Kananaskis Village, a great spot to stop on your drive home for Starbucks Coffee in the resort as you warm up beside the big fireplace. (And if you’re looking to spend the night near the park, accommodations can be found here in the Delta Kananaskis Lodge.)

Snowshoeing around Upper Kananaskis Lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are the two main winter activities in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park with plenty of trailheads to choose from. There are over 52 miles of groomed ski trails, and hikers will have no shortage of great destinations to choose from as well. There is a visitor information centre located in the heart of the park where you can get maps and ask about the best trails for your group’s abilities and interests.

In the Kananaskis Lakes area of the park, our favourite winter hike follows a popular summer trail to Rawson Lake in just under 5 miles return. And while it’s not an official snowshoe trail, it is well traveled year-round, and usually packed down. The trail also poses no avalanche risk until you reach the lake. (So, don’t go exploring beyond the lake unless you’re prepared.)

Rawson Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Moving further into the Spray Lakes Valley, our favourite winter hike is the Chester Lake Trail off Hwy 742 (the Smith Dorrien Trail.) The hike is just over 4 miles round trip and is beautiful as you cross marshmallow-white meadows before the lake on an official snowshoe trail that is usually well packed down.

Visitors can also explore nearby Spray Valley Provincial Park, further down the Smith Dorrien Trail. Hike up to Rummel Lake in a return outing of 5.7 miles and then head across the road to Mount Engadine Lodge for afternoon tea. You can also spend the night in this amazing wilderness setting with all meals included.

Hiking into Chester Lake

For the truly adventurous, spend a night or two in the yurt at Mount Engadine Lodge for a winter camping experience. And meals can be added on to your stay if you’d like to spend more time in the heated main lodge.

Mount Engadine Lodge in Spray Valley Provincial Park (photo credit: Paul Zizka Photography)


Three. Crimson Lake Provincial Park, Central Alberta

Crimson Lake Provincial Park is located approximately an hour west of the City of Red Deer in Central Alberta. We’ve camped here in the summer and the thing that most impressed me about the park was the number of trails that visitors could explore by bike or on foot. Return in winter, and these same trails are maintained for multi-use including walking, snowshoeing, fat-biking and cross-country skiing.

Snowshoeing on Crimson Lake (Photo credit: Alberta Parks)

The multi-use 6.2-mile Amerada Loop circles Crimson Lake, passing by wetlands and a beaver pond. Groomed ski trails wind their way through the campground loops, and there is a packed 4-mile-long trail for walking, snowshoeing, or fat biking connecting Crimson Lake with nearby Twin Lake.

Ice fishing and Ice Skating are other popular activities available in the park when the lake is well frozen, and new this winter – bring the kids down on a Saturday for “Snowy Saturdays,” with free family activities including snow fort building, geocaching, tubing, snow games, and outdoor skill demonstrations. There is also a lakeside skateway and skating rink.

Accommodations can be found in the nearby Town of Rocky Mountain House

Ice skating around the lakeshore of Crimson Lake (Photo Credit: Alberta Parks)


Four. Miquelon Lake Provincial Park, Central Alberta

Moving north through Alberta, Miquelon Lake Provincial Park is located an hour SE of the province’s capital city of Edmonton. Year-round camping is available in this park, a rare feature in a provincial park, or visitors can explore as a day trip from Edmonton.

Snowshoeing along the Miquelon Lake shoreline (photo credit: Alberta Parks)

Winter recreation is plentiful in this park including snowshoeing or cross-country skiing along the Miquelon Lake shoreline or through the 20 km of backcountry trails. Skijoring with harnessed dogs is also permitted on several of the loops, with dogs permitted on all trails (something that is not terribly common on ski trails up here.)

Family-friendly winter fun in Miquelon Lake Provincial Park (Photo Credit: Alberta Parks)

Ice Skating is another popular activity in the park on a cleared path along the Miquelon lake shoreline.

If traveling in this area, make sure you also plan to spend some time in Edmonton, Alberta’s best “winter city. Highlights include the Ice on Whyte Festival, the Silver Skate Festival, the Ice Castles in Hawrelak Park, and the Iceways for skating through Victoria and Rundle Parks.

Ice Skating on Miquelon Lake (Photo Credit: Alberta Parks)


Five. William A. Switzer Provincial Park, Northern Alberta

William A, Switzer Provincial Park is best visited as a day trip from the Town of Hinton, on the border of the Northern Canadian Rockies (three hours west of Edmonton.)  From Hinton you can also plan a visit to the mountain town of Jasper in Jasper National Park, one hour south.

For the adventurous, there is also year-round camping available at the Jarvis Lake and Gregg Lake Campgrounds.

Once situated in Hinton (or camping right in the park,) there is no shortage of winter activities to enjoy. The Hinton Nordic Centre has over 21 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails with snowshoeing permitted on some trails as well. The Nordic Centre is located inside the provincial park, making it an ideal destination while in the area.

Snowshoeing in beautiful William A. Switzer Provincial Park (photo credit: Alberta Parks)

Snowshoers will want to head up the Athabasca Lookout Trail, one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the region on a 0.6-mile access trail (with an additional 5 miles, one way, available to hike beyond the viewpoint)

Other ski and snowshoe trails can be found throughout the park in the Jarvis Lake or Gregg Lake Campground areas, or near the Kelley’s Bathtub Day Use area.

Other popular winter activities in the park include ice fishing and skating when lakes are well frozen, fat biking on several trails, and luge. The Hinton Luge Associations facility has a 0.6-mile groomed track, located below the Athabasca Lookout Tower near the Nordic Centre.

Visitors to William A. Switzer Provincial Park  can try Luge sledding (photo credit: Alberta Parks)

The province of Alberta is a winter wonderland for all outdoor enthusiasts, and the only question remaining is which park you’ll visit first. My own personal list grows by the year ensuring I never run out of exciting places to visit year-round.

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Arctic Fun in Saariselkä, Finland Sun, 21 Jan 2018 22:10:19 +0000 We were waiting for our bags to be off-loaded at Kittilä Airport in the north of Finland. On one wall of the arrival lounge I was intrigued by a large poster of the aurora borealis or ‘northern lights’ with the … Continue reading

We were waiting for our bags to be off-loaded at Kittilä Airport in the north of Finland. On one wall of the arrival lounge I was intrigued by a large poster of the aurora borealis or ‘northern lights’ with the welcoming words:

The North is Near
Let there be winter, let there be ice,
deep powder snow
and the Northern Lights
365 seasons of vibrance and magic

Exciting images!

Photo credit: Pertti Turunen

However, our destination was still around three hours away to the north. Sitting upon a coach in the dark of the night, we followed an almost straight snow-clad road through a continual forest of trees all draped in snow. Eventually, we arrived at Saariselkä, our journey’s end, some 250 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle!

Saariselkä is a small settlement set in a valley surrounded by hills or ‘fells’ as they are known. The village has one fuel station, a supermarket and an array of places for visitors to stay. During its many months of snow Saariselkä becomes a hub of action for cross-country skiing, skidooing, sledding by husky and sometimes by reindeer and, of course, snow-shoeing! A small downhill ski system is also situated in the village. Of course, there is also the pleasure of viewing those northern lights. The region is famed for having a high probability of witnessing this most iconic of arctic sky phenomena! Indeed, it is claimed the aurora borealis can be viewed from Saariselkä up to 200 days each year! This entire area of forest and fells has been carefully organised for winter activities with a host of centres around the village able to facilitate such adventures.

The whole region is a breathtaking arctic wonderland for all those who delight in deep winter. Snow sculptured trees in forests set against treeless fell tops with endless arctic views fill the landscape. Whatever the activity a person chooses, he or she is forced to stop every once and a while just to drink-in the intoxicating atmosphere! Much of the area includes the Urho Kekkonen National Park which spreads south and east to the nearby Russian border. Within the national park live reindeer, bears, wolverines, wolves, arctic foxes and lynx. However, during our visit at the beginning of March, the only evidence of such creatures were large footprints and small spherical droppings left behind by reindeer deep in the forest.

Photo credit: Inari-Saariselkä Tourism

This part of Finland along with the north of Norway, Sweden and the Kola Peninsula in Russia is the traditional homeland of the Sámi people. Their ancestral land often referred to as ‘Lapland’, the Sámi now prefer to call ‘Sápmi’. Over time their traditional activities of hunting, fishing and herding reindeer have become adapted to modern times with skidoos and gadgetry helping them live in such a demanding and challenging environment. The Sámi now have a certain amount of autonomy within the national boundaries they live. For visitors to this area of Finland, a trip to a Sámi settlement is well worth a visit. During one afternoon my wife, Jackie, and I went along to a Sámi village which involved trying out the local skill of reindeer lassoing! We weren’t trusted with live creatures but simply attempted making contact with old antlers placed on top of the snow! This should have been easy but even with stationary targets, it was embarrassing how many times we failed to wrap rope around horn! During the same visit reindeer pulled us around a frozen lake as we sat in a sled. After which, we enjoyed a hot drink with our Sámi hosts who chatted, telling us about their traditional life of old and how their lives had been transformed during more recent times. One of the most intriguing aspects of the afternoon was appreciating the Sámi relationship and affinity with their reindeer, the creatures which have historically been central to their existence.

In having but a handful of days to sample the arctic pleasures on offer in the Saariselkä area, it was a problem to know what to do first! Having brought along cross-country skis, there was some urgency in wanting to use the ski trails. We had heard such good reports! There are some 200 kilometres of cross-country ski trails in the region, 34 of which are lit during dark. After purchasing a trail map, it was time to get going. In the most sublime of powder snow it was a matter of skiing up and down undulations through the forest, on a superbly prepared ‘classic’ cross-country track alongside another used for skating. Every junction had clear directional signs and an easy to read map, making any navigation straightforward. The journey was a complete joy, gliding past trees dressed in thick cloaks of massed snow. It didn’t take long in such perfect snow conditions and stunning terrain to ski many kilometres. Later that day, a different direction was taken which led to the top of the treeless fell of Kaunspää. It was also the top of Saariselkä’s small downhill run, the most northerly facility of its kind in the European Union! From the top of the fell and being above the trees, there were plentiful views across to other distance hills and forests. Black marker sticks led the way across the top of the fell and down the other side. It was then a lovely long downhill, back into trees and return to the village along a valley.

Photo credit: Inari-Saariselkä Tourism

That night we both wandered along the entire length of the main street of snow-filled Saariselkä. At the far end of the village, a few winter-wheeled vehicles and many skidoos were parked on the forecourt of a petrol station. The latter transportation is a major method of getting around the area for locals as well as being another way for visitors to enjoy some arctic sight-seeing! We visited the only general store for the region. A resident of the village had told us it was a place where all essential items could be purchased, from ski waxes to tree axes! After that we walked passed a few buildings which, during the daytime, would be open to help organize a list of arctic adventures for visitors. We completed our village tour by passing a couple of hotels. As we made our way back to our own place of rest, Jackie pointed to a green tinge developing in the sky above us! It was a subtle green wavy light spreading like a steadily, ever changing curtain across the sky! For a full twenty minutes we were in awe of the famed aurora borealis!

Over the following days a few more ski trails were enjoyed, most of which were inside the Urho Kekkonen National Park, one of Finland’s largest protected areas. Apart from a national park sign there didn’t appear to be any difference in terrain. It was a case of yet more journeying through incredible undulating arctic scenery. Feeling the cold, a break was taken in one of the many track-side huts suitably positioned throughout the forest. These superbly constructed wooden unmanned huts are for visitors to take shelter in, to rest, to gain some warmth next to a wood-burning stove and maybe cook some food. The main rules are that a visitor respects the facility, removes any refuse and takes care when using the stove. On another occasion, a stop was made outside a different hut after noticing large birds flying close by. They were Siberian jays who had learnt the art of befriending humans way out in the remote forest. By hanging around huts, they would often be provided with bits of food which would supplement their meagre diet during the depths of their arctic winter! What cleverly adapted birds!

Photo credit: Marjaana Lähteenmäki

Time for some huskying! After a half hour journey on a minibus we arrived at a place in the forest where large numbers of husky dogs were waiting. They stood yelping with excitement in anticipation of some exercise. Our only experience of dog sledding thus far had been in the north of Norway during a fierce wind with a mixture of billowing snow and piercing pellets of icy rain! Today we were beneath an arctic calm of blue skies, very cold temperatures and not even a breeze. A dog-knowledgable Finnish man was there to greet a dozen of us. It took him some twenty minutes to explain the basic requirements for driving a team of five. ‘Remember: keep the line tight, help the team on uphill sections by scooting, brake coming downhill, lean into corners and watch ahead at all time. Go and enjoy yourselves!’ he said when summing-up. The brake was released and the barking dogs jolted us into motion. The sled glided along with the occasional creak as its runners turned a corner or met inconsistencies along the trail. The brake was applied during downhills, there was scooting up inclines, corners were leant into and the husky line was kept taut. We smoothly slid along in the snow. As the dogs worked away it became clear all five of our huskies were so different, their physical appearance, their gait and the amount and type of noise they made! Most obvious of all was the inexperienced youngster running on its own in the middle of the line, learning how to pull a sled from its elders! It was great fun. A person could easily get into this!

Photo credit: Inari-Saariselkä Tourism

That evening in a clear starlit sky. We walked away from the village and into the forest. We headed to a purpose built balcony and hut for northern light gazing. If any magnetic light display was going to take place then it would be an ideal spot to stand. We stood in wonder looking at a mass of distinct stars upon a jet black backdrop. The Great Bear was there and an obvious halo around the moon. But no aurora borealis! As the saying goes: ‘You can lead an arctic wanderer into the forest, but if the magnetic magic just isn’t up there, it’s tough!’ As we headed back into the village we could see and hear a ‘northern lights’ snowshoe safari having a trek through the forest. This was a regular outing for visitors to go out and look for the northern lights. But with snowshoes upon their feet! A long line of bobbing head-torch lights was curving its way around the trees.

Somehow we had reached the end of our stay and had not yet been out on snowshoes! How could that be? Such is the absorption of arctic activities in Saariselkä! We had quite literally run out of time! Could this be our excuse for having to return to the area in order to sample all of Saariselkä’s arctic activities? Now, there’s a thought!

Snowshoeing Details For Saariselkä:

The scope for snowshoeing in the region is huge. As a couple of local snowshoeing brochures pointed out: hiking in snowshoes is possible anywhere around Saariselkä. For both those new to the activity or for those with experience, there are a number of well marked trails in the region. In Saariselkä there are 3 km and 7 km snowshoe trails and nearby Kiilopää there are trails measuring 1 km and 6.5 km. The local Saareselkä Nordic Ski Map has them marked-on for both locations. There are a number of local companies which will be able to arrange trips for those wishing to snowshoe in the region. Also, there are many places in the area which will hire-out snowshoes. The snowshoeing season begins at the end of November but is at its best later on when the snow has had chance to accumulate.

For More Information Go To:

Saariselkä Booking www.saariselkä
For general information regarding visiting the area.

Husky & Co
Organising arctic trips and equipment hire,

Top Safaris
Organising trips and equipment hire.

Luonto Lomat Pro-Safaris
For snowshoe trips and hire.

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Ascending Spiritual Mountains in Tottori, Japan Fri, 05 Jan 2018 04:00:13 +0000 Discover a stunning world of remote mountains infused with thousands of years of Japanese spiritual beliefs when exploring barely-touristed Tottori Prefecture. The ancient shrines and temples, local myths, and hiking paths of Mt. Daisen and Mt. Mitoku revealed long forgotten … Continue reading

Discover a stunning world of remote mountains infused with thousands of years of Japanese spiritual beliefs when exploring barely-touristed Tottori Prefecture. The ancient shrines and temples, local myths, and hiking paths of Mt. Daisen and Mt. Mitoku revealed long forgotten Japan. Explore these sacred, lushly forested mountains in boots, snowshoes, or traditional straw sandals

A vertical cliff on Mt. Mitoku grasps Japan’s “most dangerous national monument,” which is how government tourism officials describe a wooden temple whose actual name is Nageiredo. Built without nails, Nageiredo balances on roughly hewn timber stilts on the edge of a cave in the middle of a craggy precipice. No one knows who constructed this unique cultural artifact and how they built it 1,300 years ago. A local legend explains that a monk with mystical powers threw the temple onto the mountainside. Mere humans cannot get closer than approximately fifty meters. Nageiredo exists for the sole use of mountain gods.

You need not be a godlike hiker to visit it, but out-of-shape or acrophobic travelers should think twice before attempting to approach Nageiredo. Scaling the steep trail often requires grasping winding tree roots, long metal chains, and jutting rocks. The earthen path is slippery in many places. Occasionally, climbers have broken bones or died after slipping off trails—but the climb is worth the risk. You’ll pass through the same invigorating mountainous forest habitat that monks and pilgrims have been traveling since the year 706 when Priest En No Gyoja founded Mt. Mitoku as a Shugen-do religious site. Both Mt. Daisen and Mt. Mitoku became active centers of Shugen-do in Western Japan.

Sometimes simplistically described as a “mountain religion,” Shugen-do uniquely combines Buddhism, Shintoism, local folk beliefs and nature worship. Shugen-do priests since the first millennium have embraced ascetic practices. Many rejected materialism and lived austerely in the mountains. Meditating under waterfalls during winter was common—some ascetic Buddhists today still do. Others, living on what they gathered in nature, meditated in caves. Shugen-do priests were also formidable warriors who protected their mountains, valleys, streams, waterfalls, and other sacred spots from opposing religious factions as well as the ravages of industry.

To embark on a pursuit of spiritual purity or to just enjoy the incredible vistas and nature of Mt. Mitoku, begin your trek at Sanbutsuji Temple, located an hour drive from tiny Tottori Airport. Temple priest Yoneda Ryojun, who also guides (Japanese language only), visitors up the mountain, explains that focusing on nature is like experiencing Zen, and all life springs from nature. He advised visitors to go to the mountain to show appreciation and give thanks. Each step to Nageiredo, he adds, is a step toward purification. He invites climbers to chant “Sange, sange” (Repent, repent!) “Rokkon shojo” (Purify the six senses!) as they move up the mountain. The six senses refer to the tongue, nose, eyes, ears, body, and mind.

Before heading up the trail, a gatekeeper at the entrance will inspect your shoe soles. Climbing alone, without proper footgear, and in inclement weather are all forbidden. For seven hundred yen (about six US dollars), you can purchase sandals of woven straw, which one hiker swore gripped the path more firmly than modern hiking boots.

You do not need a guide, but without one, you will miss the stories that weave history and the forest trail you walk, bordered with carved stone religious statues covered with years of green moss, weather-stained wooden temples, and native ferns, shrubs, flowers, and trees, into a tapestry of culture and nature.

A guide will teach the proper way to swing a wooden beam into the side of a person-sized bell suspended along the path by thick crossbeams. The sonorous vibrations inform the mountain gods that you are approaching—striking the bell is great fun. How monks carried a two-ton bell to one of the high mountain temples along the route is an unfathomable mystery.

British ex-pat Richard Pearce, now a Tottori resident and expert on local folklore and nature, enjoys introducing English speaking visitors to the mysterious, sacred, and natural treasures of Mt. Mitoku. Pearce also conducts snowshoeing tours (

The trail ends at the vertiginous 90-degree bluff where Nageiredo Temple is impossibly perched, like a swallow nest on a cliff. If allowed, only expert rock climbers could enter this national treasure of Japan. Take a rest, look around at the scenery of undulating mountains and valleys, and snap some pics before carefully descending.

After exploring Mt. Mitoku, try the Tottori après workout activity of soaking aching muscles in a steamy hot spring and then restore your energy with succulent crab and other seafood from the blue depths of the nearby sea and with mouthwatering yellow pears, brown shitake, and colorful produce from local farms and fields.

The nearby hot spring town called Misasa Onsen includes enchanting cobblestone lanes, retro-style street lights, and artistic shops and galleries. This 800-year-old town waits between Mt. Mitoku and Mt. Daisen. Misasa Onsen is a great place to let your hair down—Japanese style. Both men and women can enjoy river viewing and bathing nude inside of a highly visible outdoor rock-lined bath next to the town`s central bridge. After climbing in the footsteps of ascetic monks, you might want to experience other aspects of Japanese culture—the hedonistic practices of luxuriating in thermal mineral water and stuffing oneself with gourmet meals. If you are shy, bathe in a beautiful hotel.

Ryokan Ohashi, one of the most famous and elegant ryokan, a Japanese inn, in Misasa, is a nationally registered cultural property. Master artisans used timber from neighboring forests. Townspeople have built or renovated luxurious ryokan alongside Misasa’s gently splashing river.

The whispers of water tumbling over rocks, and the romantic calls of night birds and frogs slip between the panes of glass that separate guests in their warm rooms from the night air. Don a loose Japanese yukata (a light gown) and walk through the luxurious hotel to the baths. During the day, men are asked to bathe in one bathing area while the other is for women. At night, the designations change so that men and women can enjoy both areas during their stay. A steamy indoor room with rocky baths is one bathing section. The other has indoor baths and an outdoor bath made of aromatic cypress. Both facilities are spacious and luxurious. While you are bathing, hotel staff will lay traditional soft Japanese futons on the floor of your room.

After bathing, feast on the gourmet art of Ryokan Ohashi’s top chef, who has received some of Japan’s highest awards for Japanese cuisine. Choose to enjoy your meal in your spacious room or to dine in private grand and elegant banquet rooms. The menu is mouthwatering. The presentation is creative. For instance, waitstaff briefly extinguish the lights before carrying illuminated bowls of fresh crab to your table. In the dark, the glowing bowls symbolize fishing boats drifting at night on black seas. The lighting, though, is soon restored so you can savor a seemingly endless selection of exquisite Japanese dishes with your eyes and mouth.

After a deep sleep, a morning bath, and a sumptuous breakfast, you must face difficult choices: walk along the river, take more leisurely baths, drop into art galleries, or eat more local dishes.You could also go hiking or snowshoeing with guide Richard Pierce in the nearby fields, hills, and mountains.

Less than two hours away by car, Mt. Daisen presents another fantastic option. Viewed from the south, Mt. Daisen looks like a sibling of Mt. Fuji. In winter, gently ascending slopes soar from an almost round base to the 5,672-feet-high crown of pure white snow. In autumn expect a kaleidoscope of fall colors. Every season decorates Mt. Daisen differently.

Like Mt. Mitoku, Mt. Daisen’s history and culture include nature protection, regional cuisine, warrior monks, and fascinating spiritual beliefs. For more than a thousand years, religious rules, which even applied to the emperor of Japan, forbid going to the peak of Mt. Daisen. Villagers, monks, and other locals feared a demon that guarded the mountain. Stories said it would tear intruders apart with its sharp beak. The demon served gods that lived in the crown of the mountain.

Until the late 1800s, just four Shinto priests a year were allowed to climb to Mt.Daisen`s peak, but this was permitted only for a religious ceremony named Oyama No Mohitori. Carrying wooden buckets on their back, the priests trekked toward the summit, where at a sacred pond they collected medicinal herbs and filled the buckets with water. They carried the holy water downhill to Ogamiyama Jinja, an ancient shrine built for worshipping Mt. Daisen. Shinto priests today continue the water collecting ceremony every July 15.

When Mt. Daisen was a thriving center of Buddhism, temple priests held great power. Their followers built over 100 Buddhist temples. Thousands of warrior monks resided in and around Daisen Town. However, in the late 1800s, many Buddhist temples across Japan were burned during a period of government persecution of Buddhism.

Around the same time, a Japanese newspaper company sent an expedition to Daisen’s summit. The mysterious forests, filled with wild animals and imagined mythical beasts, scared off all but two climbers. Today, though, hiking and snowshoeing trails connect the scraggly rocky peaks of volcanic Mt. Daisen with Daisen Town and small hamlets. Perhaps, the mountain demon moved away.

Just 100 residents live in Daisen Town today. The small number of remaining shrines and temples are invaluable cultural treasures in the middle of alpine meadows, waterfalls and rivers that you can drink from, and almost certainly the most abundant natural beech and cedar forests in Western Japan.

If interested in Zen Buddhism, book a room at a four-hundred-year-old temple inn, Sanrakuso Inn, for basic accommodation, a unique cultural experience, and one of the best locations for hikers. Sixteenth-generation Zen monk Goken Shimizu and his wife serves shojin ryori. That is Japanese for simple meatless Buddhist dishes, like the ones that mountain pilgrims and monks have been traditionally eating for many centuries. The ingredients include mountain mushrooms, herbs, and local vegetables, Wake early to join the six a.m. meditation session. Sanrakuso Inn is within minutes from hiking trails, Daisen Temple, and Ogamiyama Shrine. When snow piles up on the trails, guests can borrow snowshoes, and the monk might even take you on a snowshoe trip around Daisen Temple and Ogamiyama Shrine.

Walk along sacred Sainokawara, a river of clean rainwater, spring water, and melted snow that sparkles and slides down Mt. Daisen to the sea. Long ago, Sainokawara was known as the river that separated earth and heaven. To protect the spirits of recently departed children who were in limbo between heaven and earth, parents built triangular cairns with riverbank stones. Even today, you might discover a just-built riverside rock cairn with a child’s doll or toy left at the apex.

Winter drops layers of fluffy white snow on the dark brown thatched roofs of centuries-old weather-worn wooden temples and shrines. Trails curve around snow-bent birch trees in woods so silent that you can hear snowflakes brushing your jacket. You might think that the mountain is like a vast open chapel.You can feel why people worshipped Mt. Daisen.

Considering it’s small population, Daisen Town has several impressive snowshoeing guides and winter sports facilities. Mr. Kuruma is recommended because of his encyclopedic knowledge of local flora and fauna. Ask for him at the Daisen Information Center (81 0859-52-2502). The name of largest outdoor sports company in the area is Mori-no-Kuni, which translates as Kingdom of the Forest. Mori-no-Kuni offers many tours, including snowshoe tours.

Mt. Daisen is included within the much larger Daisen-Oki National Park, which has ski resorts, campsites, horse riding facilities, bicycle trails and much more for outdoor sports enthusiasts. Many regions of Japan offer the same opportunities for sports, but only remote Tottori prefecture provides these activities in the midst of such a rich physical environment and cultural heritage.

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Eclipsing the Excuse Tray: Wilderness Athlete’s Midnight Build Thu, 21 Dec 2017 03:02:49 +0000 Toss your Excuse Tray like a high school kid flies a platter across the cafeteria. With Midnight Build (MB), open life’s window; you know, the one that seems shut to you. Here’s how.

Photo courtesy Sarah Eriksson, Sweden,

Dylan … Continue reading

Toss your Excuse Tray like a high school kid flies a platter across the cafeteria. With Midnight Build (MB), open life’s window; you know, the one that seems shut to you. Here’s how.

Photo courtesy Sarah Eriksson, Sweden,

Dylan penned over a half-century ago the song “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” a B-side 45 RPM record with the A-side’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Take those comforting words encouraging one’s overlooking, even bypassing, negatives as a command to exit ” . . . the dark side of the road.” The Excuse Tray you carry daily, now so loaded by Bubba Fatz with false assertions it requires both hands just to hold it; chuck that into the bellyaching abyss just outside. Discard it in the pile of useless reasons that seem so real, alibis for not getting done what you as an athlete, hunter, outdoors person, or parent wants, even needs for living.

The first step to take?

Enshrined in a mysterious black bottle, you discover life’s nectar of health, ambrosia for the soul. No matter your status, first or last, succeeding or failing, Midnight Build will improve your wellness. Those marching orders, its heritage for this fresh design, carries on a new generation of Nighttime Optimizer, the company’s first venture into the world of improving you while you sleep. Understand the why’s through the research of Jeff Kildahl, Ph.D., Snowshoe Magazine’s Wellness Editor, an athlete who can run 700 miles in a month for charity, whose life’s work through his “Wholistic Edge” brand provides “synergistic solutions to transcend health, performance, and potential in life and sport.” He takes time off from his Performance Medicine research to detail MB with his hard-hitting, straightforward approach.

Courtesy Anna Elizza runs with Fini, Seattle

“Endurance athletes represent a disturbing trend in which one can be fit yet unhealthy. Midnight Build offers an array of potent ingredients to propel, facilitate, and enhance your health, fitness, performance, and wellness from the inside out.

Vitamins function in the body as metabolic regulators and influence a number of physiological processes vital to endurance sport performance. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, metabolites, extracts, constituents, botanicals, and herbs have been an integral part of health, medicine, wellness, and sports performance for centuries.

Herbs do not heal your body. Herbs alter physiologic function and structure to facilitate your healing. The goal is to understand how it functions in the body via its biochemical composition and match it to the disease based on its biochemistry. Supplementation is often necessary due to the elevated demands of endurance endeavors in which temperature, elevation, terrain, wind, and so forth expedite oxidative stress, nutrient deficiency, and poor recovery.

No vitamin, mineral, or herb can cure a poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, lousy job, or a dysfunctional childhood. Regeneration is a synergistic process that occurs while you sleep—a vital yet often shortchanged component of life.

Herbs complement the roles of vitamins, minerals, nutrient-dense food choices, and exercise to help your body regenerate itself. The key is to treat causation versus symptoms. Regeneration is critical to your body—whether your interest is improved health or becoming the next 300-Mile Man.”


Here Dr. Kildahl investigates each of the nine critical ingredients mixed thru a secret formula in Wilderness Athlete labs hid amongst the mountainous deserts of Arizona. There intense researchers built the component map for each capsule of Midnight Build.

Where he uses the words “endurance athlete,” change it to match your lifestyle, i.e., endurance parent, endurance spouse, endurance hunter, endurance outdoors-person, or even endurance couch potato. Study explorer Ernest Shackleton. Life requires endurance.


Niacin [Vitamin B-3] is one of the B-complex vitamins popular as a sport supplement. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is absorbed in the small intestine and stored in the liver. It is a coenzyme that assists in the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

Niacin is an ally of an endurance athlete because it allows energy to enter the muscle to enhance performance. It increases circulation and lowers LDL [bad cholesterol]. Like other B vitamins, niacin promotes the health of the nervous system further enhancing athletic performance.

Courtesy Andrea Kladar races the Ironman, Canada

Niacin helps balance and improve cholesterol levels and mitigate disease risk factors. Niacin converts food [fuel] into glucose to supply energy to the powerhouse organelles of the cell — the mitochondria.

Niacin is an essential vitamin for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system and metabolism. Niacin helps with brain function, healthy skin formation, and maintenance and preventing or treating diabetes.

Benefits include:

  • Reduces inflammation;
  • Improves cholesterol levels;
  • Lowers CVD risks;
  • Assists diabetes treatments;
  • Maintains skin health;
  • Aids in proper bone function;
  • Improves brain function;
  • Enhances joint mobility;
  • Treats arthritis;
  • Reverses Pellagra [low vitamin B levels];
  • Helps prevent impotence [erectile dysfunction];
  • Niacin is not produced in the body. Most people could get enough niacin by eating a healthy diet. Evidence indicates commitment to a healthy diet is a not yet a priority for most people—endurance athletes inclusive.

Where the Midnight portion of MB begins to manifest itself:

Thanks to frequent and prolonged bouts of exertion endurance athletes will benefit from the level of niacin in this formulation [20 mg] while they snooze.

Though reticent about divulging secret information, Rich Scheckenbach, a Wilderness Athlete formulator, stepped out of the company’s deep desert caverns, scoped the geographical area, then turned to respond to a few questions. When his eyes adjusted, I asked: “Why does Midnight Build work best when at rest?” 

Midnight Build is designed to work in conjunction with the body’s circadian rhythms rather than working when the body is just at rest. The primary focus here is the release of HGH (human growth hormone) from the pituitary gland. HGH is vital for the anabolic processes in the body and its primary release into the bloodstream occurs in the very early morning hours of the day. Consequently, the recommendation for use of the product as a nighttime/bedtime optimizing adjunct to the regularly-occurring physiologic release of HGH.

Courtesy Sarah Seads Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

What happens if I use Midnight Build during the active day? 

The effect would be sub-maximal but a definitive percentage of effectiveness would be hard to quantify except on an individual basis with blood levels tested throughout the day.  
                                                                                                                              Pages of notes, more questions to explore, opening my mouth with intent  . . . and instead of a question looping out, it seemed more in awe as he had vanished much like the perfume of a Prickly Pear Cactus flower in the air.


Magnesium represents arguably one of the most important minerals in our bodies. It facilitates cellular health, enhances sport performance and is responsible for synthesizing more than 300 biochemical functions in the body.

Major functions include:

  • Cardiac activity;
  • Protein, fat and nucleic acid synthesis;
  • Nerve function;
  • Blood sugar control;
  • Neurotransmitter release
  • Blood pressure regulation;
  • Energy metabolism;
  • Production of the antioxidant glutathione;

Magnesium is crucial for energy metabolism by the activation of ATPases which are necessary to generate ATP [adenosine triphosphate]. Appropriate supplementation will defend against an energy shortfall, fatigue, lethargy, reduced power, muscle twitches, cramps, bone density reductions, anemia and irregular heartbeat.  

Courtesy Ella Magers, Miami, FL.

Mainstream media and research for decades focused on calcium supplementation. Statistics indicate magnesium supplementation is even more important.

I discovered Rich left small Post-It notes on the trail, answering questions I had yet to ask. This first conveyed his thoughts on using Midnight Build as part of one’s recovery regiment. 

Midnight Build can be used additionally as a post-activity, recovery formula but its primary consumption should be at bedtime for the HGH effect. That is, if the product is used only once a day then the maximum benefit will be from its use at night. An additional serving post-activity will certainly assist the recovery phase. 

Some benefits include:

  • Improves muscle function;
  • Enhances energy production;
  • Facilitates bone and cell formation;
  • Speeds recovery;.
  • Enhances nerve transmission;
  • Balances blood pressure regulation;
  • Maintains electrolyte balance;
  • Enhances blood coagulation;


  • Helps Increase energy;
  • Calms Nerves and Anxiety;
  • Treats Insomnia | induces Delta sleep;
  • Improves with digestion;
  • Relieves muscle aches and spasms;
  • Regulates calcium, potassium and sodium levels ;
  • Enhances heart health;
  • Prevents migraine headaches;
  • Reduces fatigue;

WA athlete Kristy Titus hunts the backcountry.

A primal or vegan dietary pattern closely mimics an optimal 1:1 or an acceptable 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. A Standard American Diet [SAD] results in calcium overload with a 5:1 or higher ratio of calcium to magnesium.”

In posts for parents, Dr. Bill Sears [Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital, Boston, and Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto] writes how bad SAD creates CAD. Ads make one mad exposing how easily we can be had.

The striking fact is that cultures that eat the reverse of the standard American diet – low fat, high in complex carbohydrates, plant-based, and high in fiber – have a lower incidence of cancer and coronary artery disease (CAD). What’s even sadder is that countries whose populations can afford to eat the healthiest disease-preventing foods, don’t. The United States has spent more money on cancer research than any country in the world, yet the American diet contributes to the very diseases we are spending money to prevent.

“Your body needs magnesium as a cofactor to utilize calcium. Depleted magnesium levels mean your body has a shortfall of both minerals thanks to poor dietary habits and misguided supplementation.


Zinc is an essential trace mineral involved in the function of a plethora of enzymes. Zinc is abundant in a carnivore diet but a possible deficiency in vegetarian or vegan diets.

Many endurance athletes are unaware of the benefits of zinc despite reams of scientific data highlighting its presence in nearly every cell of our bodies. Zinc plays a vital role every time cell division occurs which mandates optimal levels to maximize sport performance.

Endurance training lowers resting serum zinc levels in males and females versus their sedentary counterparts. Exercise has proven to increase the turnover of minerals in numerous studies. The physiologic impact of endurance training respective to zinc is evident in diminished plasma, sweat, urinary and aerobic capacity levels.

Courtesy Sarah Eriksson racing

Zinc is paramount to health and endurance sport performance despite its position in the alphabet. Find below some of its benefits:

  • Improves strength;
  • Enhances lean tissue;
  • Boosts immune function;
  • Supports reproductive health;
  • Bolsters antioxidant levels;
  • Improves insulin sensitivity;
  • Mitigates oxidative stress;
  • Facilitates hormonal balance;
  • Maintains heart health;
  • Supports liver health;
  • Improves fertility;
  • Enhances muscle repair,
  • aids in nutrient digestion, absorption, and assimilation;
  • Prevents chronic digestive disorders


Primary uses include blood sugar control, insulin resistance, diabetes, digestive disorders.

Fenugreek is indigenous to Asia, India, South Africa and southeastern Europe. It has an extensive history both as a spice and medicine.

The seeds are composed of fiber, protein, lipids, steroidal saponins, alkaloids and C-glycoside flavones. Its taste resembles maple syrup.

Fenugreek reduces blood glucose levels by slowing absorption of sugars in the stomach while stimulating insulin production.

Studies have indicated a reversal of pre-diabetes markers and mild diabetes markers and drug therapy thanks to controlled blood glucose levels.

Fenugreek benefits both women and men. Click the link (left) for more discussion. In addition, the fiber supplementation was found to increase satiety and reduce cravings and the postprandial response. Fenugreek benefits heartburn, a variety of digestive disorders, soothes the digestive tract, stomach lining, and intestines. 

Flying snowshoes! Courtesy Anna Eliza

Benefits include:

  • Enhances athletic performance;
  • Increases strength;
  • Improves body composition;
  • Modifies cholesterol levels;
  • Produces testosterone;
  • Reduces body fat;
  • Controls blood sugar;
  • Reverses diabetic biomarkers;
  • Mitigates insulin resistance;
  • Improves digestion

Then I found Rich’s last note answering the inquiry before it was made: how Midnight Build works for women: 

Midnight Build is formulated to work for both men and women.  This includes the pituitary release of HGH [for anabolic/muscle building], the support of testosterone production–vital for both sexes–contribution to energy production, carnosine production for improved muscle endurance, and the biosynthetic processes involved in muscle repair and recovery.  


Midnight Build uses an extract of this superfood. This means the starch has been removed [gelatinized] making its higher potency easily digested, absorbed, and assimilated in your body.
Bioavailability is the key.

Maca is a superfood root plant native to the Peruvian mountains. It grows in a harsh environment above treeline. It is able to resist intense sunlight, strong winds, and freezing temperatures. Maca has been used for thousands of years as a food and a medicinal tonic to promote energy, fat loss, stamina, mental focus, and fertility.

Mark Paulson, WA founder: “There are no locker rooms or timeouts in the backcountry.”

Adaptogens increase the body’s ability to adjust to stress. Adaptogens are limbic [emotional] brain tonics and tonify the stress axes — hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands and maximize homeostasis. Maca flawlessly works because it is an adaptogenic herb, not a stimulant.

Maca root acts as an antioxidant to boosts levels of glutathione and SOD (superoxide dismutase). These are two major disease Ninjas in the body. Results from recent studies demonstrate that maca root has the ability to help prevent chronic human diseases characterized by high  LDL cholesterol levels, antioxidative states, and impaired glucose tolerance.

Maca improves your immune system and balances cholesterol levels in the body. It significantly improves glucose tolerance, by lowering levels of glucose in the blood. This is directly linked to heart health, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome [MetS].

Benefits include:

  • Enhances muscle growth;
  • Promotes muscle strength;
  • Advances muscle synthesis;
  • Balances cholesterol;
  • Improves thyroid function;
  • Enhances mental clarity;
  • Boosts endurance;
  • Enhances stamina;
  • Enhances metabolic function;
  • It is stimulant-free;
  • Enhances hormonal balance;
  • Boosts testosterone;
  • Reduces excess estrogen;
  • Protects adrenal glands;
  • Improves sleep quality;
  • Reduces cortisol spikes

Maca root is comprised of approximately 18% protein, 76.5% carbohydrate, 5% fat, and 8.5% fiber (indigestible carbohydrates). Maca is a powerful source of nutrition boasting 20 amino acids, including eight essential amino acids, and an abundance of phytonutrients.

Courtesy Andrea Kladar, Canada


Beta-Alanine has been a staple of endurance and strength athletes for at least a decade. Beta-Alanine is an amino acid combining carnosine and pantothenic acid [B5].

When beta-alanine is ingested, it converts to the molecule carnosine, which acts as an acid buffer in the body. Carnosine is stored in cells and released in response to drops in pH. Increased stores of carnosine can protect against diet-induced drops in pH (which might occur from ketone production in ketosis, for example), as well as offer protection from exercise-induced lactic acid production.

The sport performance benefit of supplementing with beta-alanine lies mostly in its ability to elevate muscle carnosine concentrations. Beta-alanine is the limiting amino acid in carnosine synthesis which means its presence in the bloodstream is directly tied to muscle carnosine levels.

Carnosine has been shown to play a significant role in muscle pH regulation. Carnosine is synthesized in skeletal muscle from the amino acids L-Histidine and Beta-Alanine. The rate of carnosine synthesis is dependent on beta-alanine availability.

Fatigue during high-intensity exercise such as sprinting and strength training is linked to acid (hydrogen ion) accumulation in the muscles and blood. Carnosine concentration in muscle tissue is linked to a high percentage of Type II fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Men typically have higher muscle carnosine concentrations than women because the enzyme that breaks down carnosine is more active in women. Beta-Alanine makes sure the environment for exercise and endurance sport performance remains favorable.

Find these benefits:

  • Boosts explosive muscular strength and power output;
  • Increases muscle mass;
  • Boosts muscular anaerobic endurance;
  • Increases aerobic endurance;
  • Increases exercise capacity;
  • Delays muscle fatigue;


L-Ornithine is also known as the urea cycle.

The urea cycle occurs primarily in the liver but also in the kidneys. Amino acid catabolism produces ammonia. L-Ornithine is utilized during the urea cycle to eliminate excess nitrogen from the body.

Protein is a poor fuel source because it burns dirty. When your stomach and small intestines break down proteins, nitrogen-containing compounds produce ammonia as a byproduct. The liver converts ammonia into uric acid, and it is excreted via urination.

Courtesy Sarah Seads, VC

It can be synthesized in the body and precludes ammonia accumulation once it shuttles the excess waste from cellular metabolism.

L-Ornithine is crucial for removal of bodily wastes, and some research suggests this amino acid helps boost your energy level and provides your body with other significant benefits. L-Ornithine is a popular ingredient in dozens of exercise supplements used to increase power and endurance during workouts.

Your kidneys convert ornithine into arginine, another amino acid that benefits your body in several ways. Arginine is a precursor for a compound called nitric oxide, which helps dilate your blood vessels when you require extra blood to your tissues.

Arginine also helps your muscle cells produce creatine, a compound they need to contract. Research suggests that consuming extra ornithine can help promote physical strength and endurance.

Payge McMahon WA Athlete hikes to an amazing view.

During intense or long-term exercise, ammonia buildup can become a problem, inhibiting energy production and causing fatigue. By flushing out these toxic compounds, L-Ornithine allows muscles to sustain its workload, improve your endurance, and enhance workout quality.

L-Ornithine boosts endurance and reduces fatigue. It is an effective, fast, and natural way to get rid of chemical waste during exercise and extend muscle power. L-Ornithine is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and reduce stress and anxiety.

Arginine Pyroglutamate

Arginine is an amino acid with several roles.  Arginine Pyroglutamate represents the combination of the amino acid arginine with the molecule pyroglutamate.

L-Arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide [NO] production which is responsible for dilating blood vessels to maximize blood flow. NO is a vasodilator vital to athletic performance enhancement and treating several diseases and health conditions. Arginine is impactful on growth hormone levels and suitable for lean tissue growth and fat loss.   

NO is a powerful neurotransmitter that helps blood vessels relax and improves circulation. Arginine may help improve blood flow in the arteries of the heart and mitigate symptoms of arterial plaque, angina, and coronary artery disease.

Climber on Shivling peak background

Arginine Pyroglutamate is being feverishly researched and studied because of its potential benefits as a cerebral vasodilator respective to degenerative mental disorders.

Find these benefits:

  • Improves cognitive functioning;
  • Improves athletic performance;
  • Facilitates HGH synthesis;
  • Increases lean muscle tissue;
  • Improves diabetic complications;
  • Mitigates cardiovascular disease;
  • Improves capillary proliferation;
  • Promotes fat loss;
  • Increases blood volume;
  • Enhances muscle strength, size, and endurance;
  • Promotes blood-brain barrier synergy;
  • Improves hormonal function;

Tongkat Ali Extract

Eurycoma longifolia is a herbal medicinal plant found in Malaysia, Vietnam, Java, Sumatra, Thailand. In Malaysia, it is commonly called Tongkat Ali and has a range of medicinal properties as a general health tonic, including improvement in physical and mental energy levels and overall quality of life. It is also called Longjack and Malaysian Ginseng.

The roots are used as an adaptogen and as a traditional “anti-aging” remedy to help older individuals adapt to the reduced energy, mood, and libido synonymous with age.

In modern dietary supplements, Tongkat Ali can be found in a variety of products intended to improve libido and energy, restore hormonal balance (cortisol/testosterone levels) and enhance both sports performance and weight loss.

The benefits of maintaining youthful testosterone levels include increased muscle mass and reduced body fat, high psychological vigor (mental/physical energy), and improved well-being.

Benefits include:

  • Enhances sport performance;
  • Improved energy levels;
  • Boosts libido;
  • Reduces stress;
  • Anti-bacterial characteristics;
  • Anxiety remedy;
  • Stunts tumors;”

Rich suddenly ran out of the mountain as we were leaving. 

I need to explain that the Midnight Build formula is designed to be an “all-in-one” formula to support active individuals in their quest for improved performance, muscle physiology, and endurance. By incorporating well-researched and benefit-validated ingredients, the formula is intended to give athletes an additional edge for realizing the maximum physiological results from their physical activities. That is, better muscle building, quicker recovery, and improved endurance realized from their investment of time and efforts in the gym, on the field or court, or in the wilds. 

Dr. Kildahl’s work lists at least 100 benefits or functions resulting from ingesting Midnight Build. Think of them as 100 ways exploding your Excuse Tray up and out where pieces scatter to the alley. In life, there are probably more rewards than even noted here. There are some overlaps. But the sheer personal gain of health-steps from MB overwhelms the ordinary. Thinking back to Dylan:

It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It don’t matter, anyhow
And it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don’t know by now

The most challenging thing one has to do to enjoy this kind of health? Remembering to take three Midnight Build pharmaceutical-grade tablets before your sleep.  Good night!

Jeff Kildahl Ph.D  


Phillip Gary Smith contributed to portions of this article



The authors were provided WA products including Midnight Build for this article. Both purchase  WA products retail from their website.

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