Snowshoe Magazine https://www.snowshoemag.com The snowshoeing experience for snowshoers around the world: snowshoe racing, snowshoes, gear reviews, events, recreation, first-timers. Fri, 03 Apr 2020 18:08:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4 https://i0.wp.com/www.snowshoemag.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/5/files/cropped-SnowshoeMagazine_icon_512x512.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Snowshoe Magazine https://www.snowshoemag.com 32 32 28162661 Nutrition For Winter Activities: A Beginner’s Guide https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/04/02/nutrition-winter-activities-beginners-guide/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/04/02/nutrition-winter-activities-beginners-guide/#respond Thu, 02 Apr 2020 20:38:05 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=96088 Nutrition plays a vital role in our health and overall fitness. When we’re participating in winter sports and activities, such as snowshoeing, it’s even more important to refuel the body’s energy source and have proper nutrition. However, there’s a lot … Continue reading

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Nutrition plays a vital role in our health and overall fitness. When we’re participating in winter sports and activities, such as snowshoeing, it’s even more important to refuel the body’s energy source and have proper nutrition. However, there’s a lot of information out there regarding food, and for a beginner, it can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve spoken to Kristin Kirkpatrick, an award-winning Registered Dietitian, for some starting points snowshoers of all levels can use to get their health on track.

Nutrition Tips For Getting Started

Before we launch into beginner nutrition tips while snowshoeing and participating in other winter activities, let’s consider a few key starting points in the journey towards healthier nutrition and fuel for the body.

fork with food, nutrition

Get started with some essential nutrition tips. Photo: Shutterstock/ Lightspring

Some of the links in this article may contain affiliate links. When you make a purchase using these links, part of the proceeds go to Snowshoe Mag. These proceeds help us pay for site maintenance and article contributions. Additionally, as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Please see our disclosure for more details.

Proper Nutrition Is Not All Or Nothing

With so many diet options available, indecision and discouragement can be easy to come by. But the truth of the matter is that shifting towards a healthy diet is not all or nothing. As Kristin mentions, “The misconception is that you have to be clean and perfect with whatever decision you make on how your diet is structured. I don’t think that is very sustainable. I think we end falling off the wagon. We end up going back to old habits because we have deprived ourselves of something we love in the quest for nutritional perfection.”

Instead of changing everything about our diet all at once, start with small changes. Kristin suggests, “Making just very small changes in a diet, especially when the diet is lousy to begin with, just go such a far way. Once you make those small changes, you’re more apt to make other changes.” Plus, success in those small changes can provide us the confidence to keep going on our nutrition journey.

For example, suppose you’re interested in cutting out sugar from your diet, but you love white bread. Even though most white bread contains sugar, you may choose to keep white bread in your diet and slowly decrease the amount you eat over time. Even though you may still be eating some sugar, you’ve given up all other sugary foods, which is worth celebrating!

It can be challenging to make changes, but by starting small and celebrating those small victories, it sets our bodies and our minds up for success.

woman with arms outspread at Lake O'Hara Canada

Celebrate those small victories! Photo: Tanya Koob

Add Color To Your Diet

One of the best ways that Kristin recommends for beginners to get started with healthy nutrition, even before engaging in winter activities, is by adding more color to our diet. By color, she means plants. “The variation of color, [provided by different plants] means a variation of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients.”

For example, she mentioned that her sons aim for four different colors, plant-based colors (not fruit loops), to be on their plates every day. She says, “Just going a little bit more plant-based [is helpful] and making an effort to get a little more color because color only comes from plants.”

Adding color can also help with portion sizes. Thus, make sure you’re adding vegetables or fruits with every meal. For example, on spaghetti night, make a side dish of broccoli or brussels sprouts to go along with the noodles. By adding a vegetable, you can cut down on the amount of pasta you typically eat, instead substituting a plant to help your body feel full.

Read More: Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Plant-Based Nutrition

vegetables for nutrition

Add some color to your diet with fruits and vegetables. Image by RitaE from Pixabay

Learn Your Macros

Marcos or macronutrients are the building blocks of food, namely carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each person requires a different amount of nutrients for their specific body, so one diet may not work for everyone. That’s why learning about the macronutrients in food and what your body needs explicitly is so essential.

As Kristin says, “[Diet’s] dependent on age, gender, on your disease status, whether you have a chronic condition. All of those things factor into what your diet should look like. There’s no one size fits all…even genetics plays a role.”

The body’s need for protein, for example, changes throughout our life. Since our muscle mass changes, namely, it decreases as we age, our protein intake must change as well. Kristin referenced some studies which have shown that as you age, your body requires doubling the amount of protein because older individuals are naturally prone to muscle loss, even if they are eating well and exercising regularly.

Keep in mind that our nutrient and mineral needs change too. For example, Kristin mentioned that women tend to need more iron than men, especially in the years they’re menstruating. Also, women tend to need more calcium because of an increased risk of osteoporosis as they age. Thus, as you’re determining your macros, it may be valuable to consider mineral-rich foods based on your needs.

Plus, if you do reach a point where you are interested in upping your exercise or reaching a competitive level, you’ll want to readjust your macros and see a dietitian for recommendations.  As Kristin says, “There’s a fine line, you want to increase your protein, you want to look at all those things, but you don’t want to increase it to the effect where now your diet is not effective for being at a more competitive level.”

Read More: Registered Dietitian Serves Up Nutrition Tips For Snowshoe Athletes

macronutrients

Learn your macronutrient breakdown. Photo: Shutterstock/ Double Brain

Body Composition & Macros

To determine your macros, it’s incredibly helpful first to learn your body composition. In Kristin’s practice, in fact, she emphasizes that body composition is far more important than your weight itself to determine your macros. For example, she mentioned that, if your body composition is mostly fat and with limited muscle mass, you may consider increasing your protein intake and decreasing your carb count. But if you have sufficient muscle mass, another breakdown would be recommended. Again though, each person is different, so the macro breakdown for one person may not be the best breakdown for you.

You can learn your body composition by using a body measurement tool, which is typically found at your local dietitian’s office, gym, or you can buy a body composition scale online. Be aware, though. There is a wide range of price points. For accuracy’s sake, a body composition measurement tool that you can stand on is recommended over a small, portable one.

Also, a website or app may help you get started in the process, but may not look at all factors for your body. Instead, make an appointment with a dietitian if you want to fine-tune your diet and learn more about your specific needs for macros.

Nutrition Recommendations For Snowshoers & Winter Hikers

So you’ve started towards a healthy diet in your day-to-day life. But how does your nutrition change once you start winter activities? Activity, as we know, burns calories, and since those calories are from our food, there are a few nutrition changes to keep in mind.

Replace Those Electrolytes & Stay Hydrated

As we move, our body sweats and in our sweat, we are losing precious water and electrolytes, which include minerals such as chloride, potassium, and sodium.  As winter sports enthusiasts, it can be easy to think that we aren’t sweating. However, we are. Our bodies sweat regardless of the temperature outside, and we need to make sure we stay hydrated and replace lost minerals.

Granted, summer hiking will produce a lot more sweat and, thus, loss of more water and electrolytes than winter hiking, but we still need water and electrolytes none the less. We just may not feel our sweating as intensely as when temperatures are warm.

Kristin recommends that “For a snowshoer going out for an hour or more, they just want to make sure they have sodium and potassium [replacements].” Electrolyte replacement options could include coconut water, fruit juices, electrolyte tablets, or vitamin water. Just be wary that some electrolyte replacements, such as sports drinks, may contain large amounts of sugar and preservatives. Speaking of sugar…

woman during winter activity with water bottle

Remember to stay hydrated and replenish those electrolytes. Photo: Shutterstock/ Halfpoint

Sugar Is Not The Go-To

After a long snowshoeing outing, our energy will drop. What can we use to bring up that energy? Frequently, many hikers will turn to sugar, which unfortunately is not the best support for our body.

According to Kristin, “People tend to still have the misconception that I’m going to get on the trail and do 15 miles of snowshoeing, and something sugary is going to be great because it’s going to give me this boost of energy. But that’s the opposite of what you need. What you want is a slow burn, something that is going to doll out energy over time.”

Snacks With A Slow-Burn

Foods high in sugar, like candy bars, may provide a spike in energy, but it will also cause a crash. In small amounts, however, they can be useful on the trail. “You need something to boost blood sugar.. but that doesn’t mean like a Snicker’s bar”. So instead of that Snicker’s bar, you may opt to bring foods that have fiber and protein, which will provide that slow burn. Snacks may include:

  • Peanut butter balls (like this recipe), which work for winter because there’s no melting!
  • Granola or snack bars, such as Quest bars
  • Nuts
  • String cheese
  • Trail mix, which could include nuts, fruit, chocolate
  • Fruits like an apple, if it won’t freeze, which provide simple sugars and pepsin. Since the fiber in fruit competes with the sugar, the blood sugar will not go as high.

I asked Kristin about dried fruit as well because it’s less prone to freezing than fresh fruit. Since typically the fiber is extracted from dried fruit, the sugar is what’s left. Thus, she recommends using dried fruits in small amounts.

Read More: The Best Healthy Snacks To Take While Snowshoeing

Additionally, if you’re heading out for more than an hour of snowshoeing or another winter activity, try for a slow-burning, nutritious breakfast option such as oatmeal and a protein shake before hitting the trail. The fiber and protein take a while to break down and are also easy to digest.

almonds for nutrition during winter activity

Almonds are a great snack to bring along the trail. Photo: Pixabay

Keep Summer & Winter Calories Similar

Exercising and being active in the winter tend to burn more calories than activity in the summer because our body is working harder to keep us warm. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll want to overeat or change the number of calories to compensate.

According to Kristin, “Snowshoeing burns a tremendous amount of calories... But there’s not a lot of studies that show that exercise beats out diet in terms of an individual that wants to lose weight…You still want to balance out the fuel that you actually need.”

Thus, your body’s nutrient requirements stay relatively the same throughout the year. So unless you are dramatically ramping up your exercise, like ultra-marathoners, your nutrition will remain the same.

Nutrition For The Long-Haul

Overall though, “No matter what you’re doing, you always want to look at nutrient density, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a downhill skier or snowshoer or marathon runner. Nutrient density and looking at those macros and making sure you’re getting everything you need is going to be the most important thing…But if you exercise great but your diet stinks, you’re still prone to those diseases… Your diet has to change alongside with [snowshoeing and winter activities].

For more nutritional advice for beginners or those looking to fine-tune their diet at any level, visit Kristin Kirkpatrick for additional coaching or a virtual consult.

What are your favorite nutrition tips for getting started or for winter activities? How did you get started on your nutrition journey, and what are your recommendations? Let us know in the comments below!

Read Next:
Top Five Nutrition Tips For Your Next Snowshoe Outing
Pump Up Your Iron With Advice From Registered Dietician
Snowshoeing For Beginners: The First-Timer’s Guide

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Around The Campsie Fells In Spring: A Walk On The Wild Side https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/03/31/around-the-campsie-fells-in-spring-a-walk-on-the-wild-side/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/03/31/around-the-campsie-fells-in-spring-a-walk-on-the-wild-side/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2020 17:43:20 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=89964 Glasgow, Scotland is one of the easiest cities to get away from, and I don’t mean that in any negative sense. Whichever point of the compass you choose, you’re never far from the great outdoors. Head northwards, around 19 … Continue reading

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Glasgow, Scotland is one of the easiest cities to get away from, and I don’t mean that in any negative sense. Whichever point of the compass you choose, you’re never far from the great outdoors. Head northwards, around 19 km (12 mi) towards the wilds of Stirlingshire, and you’ll find the Campsie Fells.

In light of the recent coronavirus, please take considerations before embarking for the Campsie Fells and surrounding areas. Furthermore, please continue to follow all guidelines enacted by your local entities.

sunrise over Campsie Fells, Scotland

Sunrise over the beautiful Campsie Fells, Photo: Shutterstock / Peepy

Some of the links in this article may contain affiliate links. When you make a purchase using these links, part of the proceeds go to Snowshoe Mag. These proceeds help us pay for site maintenance and article contributions. Additionally, as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Please see our disclosure for more details.

Walks Near The Campsie Fells

The Campsie Fells run from Denny Muir to Dumgoyne, itself a prominent hill and significant landmark.  The entire range and the surrounding area is a haven for hill walkers and ramblers alike.

Dumgoyne

The Dumgoyne,  a volcanic plug known as the ‘sleeping giant,’ stands around 427 m high (1400 feet) and is easily reached by a track from the village of Strathblane. The walk extends for a little over 3 km (2 mi) before turning right up a steeper path. This route passes the former historic site of a medieval Knights Templar hospital, the Spittal of Ballewan. Thus, the walk is certainly worth the effort. Additionally, once you reach Dumgoyne’s summit, marked by a small standing stone, the view is incredible.

Not far off from Dumgoyne Hill, you’ll see Dumgoyach, a small wooded area. Furthermore, Dumgoyach is an off-shoot from the West Highland Way, itself a very popular, but lengthy 154 km (96 mi) walk.

cows in pasture, Campsie Fells, Scotland

View of Campsie Fells from Strathkelvin Railway path, Photo by Leslie Barrie

Kilpatrick Hills

The Kilpatrick Hills stretch from the town of Dumbarton eastwards towards the village of Strathblane. There are several viewpoints and interesting features. Not least is the Whangie, a strangely bizarre rock formation. Additionally, the views towards Loch Lomond, the Trossachs, and the Highlands are superb. If you’d like to visit Loch Lomond and The Trossachs directly, you can book a tour of the area.

the Whangie, Kilpatrick Hills Glasgow

The craggy Whangie, Photo by Lairich Rig

Campsie Glen

If travelling by car, the Crow Road car park above Campsie Glen offers not only some fantastic views but also access to some of the best hill and distance walks in the west of Scotland. One such is the stretch from Strathblane to the town of Kilsyth. Granted, it runs for around 21 km (13 mi), but the effort is well worth it. While en route, take time to look out for the Roman fort at Bar Hill, the highest fort on the Antonine Wall.

If the walk from Strathblane to Kilsyth sounds too energetic, the Campsie Glen to Clachan of Campsie walk is a lot shorter at 0.85 km (0.5 mi). It’s a level path, although there is an option to take in a scenic waterfall route with a steep climb. The Aldessan or Kirk Burn flows through Campsie Glen to Clachan of Campsie before it merges with the Finglen Burn. It’s well worth the steep climb tracking down. Since the Campsie Glen to Clachan of Campsie walk runs for a little over half a mile, it most likely will take around 30 minutes to complete it.

waterfall at Kirk Burn, Campsie Glen, Scotland

Gorgeous waterfall at Kirk Burn in Campsie Glen. Photo: Shutterstock / Iain McGillivray

Attractions & Accommodation Near The Campsie Fells

The village of Strathblane on the Campsie’s southern flank is the main tourist hub. However, small communities such as the Clachan of Campsie also are worth a visit.

Attractions

For something a little different, visit the Strathblane Falconry on the grounds of the Country House Hotel. The falconry caters to groups, families, or individual bookings. Plus, the experience of handling a live bird of prey is quite amazing! The business operates by appointment only over seven days and can be reached by calling 01360-770222.

On Strathblane’s border with Milngavie, you’ll find Mugdock Country Park and the ruins of Mugdock Castle. The Park offers plenty to do for the entire family and is a great day out. Whether it’s walking, cycling or orienteering, you won’t be short of activities. For local history buffs, Mugdock Castle, dating from around the 14th century, with its terraced walled garden is well worth a visit.

For those keen on a dram or two of Highland malt in a near-perfect setting, the Glengoyne Distillery provides the ideal location. Following the same distilling traditions since 1833, along with a deep passion for their craft and the environment, the distillery is open for in-depth visits and guided tours year-round. It’s just a few miles from Strathblane on the A81.

Just south of the Campsie Fells lies the small community of Clachan of Campsie. It’s here you’ll discover the 12th century St. Machan’s church and the Shrine of Schoenstatt with its peaceful and secluded gardens. These are ideal spots to escape the hustle and bustle and breathe in some fresh air.

Strathblane, Scotland

The quiet city near Glengoyne Distillery. Photo by Graham Lewis

Accommodations

The Kirkhouse Inn, historically dating from around 1600, is an ideal base and close to all the village amenities. Locally sourced food, comfortable rooms, and friendly staff will ensure a restful stay. The atmosphere is distinctly “Scottish,” and the business is family-run. For more details, call 01360-771771.

If you’re thinking of a more extended stay, try the Campsie Glen Holiday Park. Its location near the Fintry hills will provide a relaxing or action-packed break. The choice is yours. The Holiday Park offers caravan holiday homes or lodges as well as camping pods sleeping up to six. If you own a motor home, tent, or caravan, there are grass pitches available on-site. You can find more information and bookings by calling their head office on 01250-878-123.

Visit The Campsie Fells

Fortunately, the Campsie Fells are accessible year-round for hiking and climbing and have some of the most picturesque spots in the west of Scotland. Inevitably, the seasonal conditions have to be observed for personal safety. However, as long as you take care in the winter months, your enjoyment of the scenery won’t be dampened.

There is no denying that the Campsie Fells and their surroundings are a perfect retreat from the relentless bustle of the big city. The variety of scenery, quiet out of the way places and spectacular views, all contribute to providing not only great walks and hikes but also a chance to kick back and switch off.

Read Next:
Park Life In Kelvingrove: Glasgow’s Historical Urban Haven
Shadows of A Snowshoer: Exploring Edinburgh’s Arctic Hinterland
Snowshoeing in Lochaber, Scotland
Snowshoes & Snowboards: A Backcountry Boarding Adventure In The Scottish Highlands

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Snowshoeing Above The World-Famous Hakuba Village, Nagano, Japan https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/03/09/snowshoeing-above-hakuba-nagano-japan/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/03/09/snowshoeing-above-hakuba-nagano-japan/#respond Mon, 09 Mar 2020 18:47:50 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=95360 Pure-white craggy peaks penetrated clouds and rose above them. Soon after getting off the final lift at Happo One Ski Resort, I was standing on a mountain that had been the main venue for the Winter Olympic Games held Continue reading

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Pure-white craggy peaks penetrated clouds and rose above them. Soon after getting off the final lift at Happo One Ski Resort, I was standing on a mountain that had been the main venue for the Winter Olympic Games held in Hakuba Village, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, in 1998. The clarity and calmness of the moment belied the challenging trekking conditions I would soon encounter.

Mt Happo, Japan

Mt. Happo Photo by Wakana Oshima

With the sun shining, visibility stretching for miles, and night approaching, my wife, my two friends, and I brought our bags to the simple mountain lodge (elevation 1850 m or 6069 ft) near Happo One Ski Resort’s highest lift station. We asked about the conditions and routes and then headed outside of the ski resort. Here, posted signs informed us of avalanche risks and that we would be responsible for paying for rescue operations.

Read More: Avalanche Avoidance Tips & FAQ

sunset above Hakuba, Japan

Sunset above Hakuba Photo by Wakana Oshima

Some of the links in this article may contain affiliate links. When you make a purchase using these links, part of the proceeds go to Snowshoe Mag. These proceeds help us pay for site maintenance and article contributions. Additionally, as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Please see our disclosure for more details.

Day 1: Happo Ridge To Mt. Happo

Way above us, the tiny tip of a rock cairn stood out above the pristine white slope that was a ridge flowing upwards. Our goal was the cairn above, which was a landmark along the Happo Ridge Route to Mt. Karamatsu, a 2695 m (8842 ft) peak in the Alps near Hakuba, Japan.

I took my gloves off to take photographs as the -10°C (14°F) temperature and steely winds turned my fingers into frozen sticks. But the beauty of the Alpine environment compelled me to take pictures despite the pain. So, I slapped my hands together and followed my wife.

cairn on Mt Happo Ridge, Japan

Pausing at the first cairn

The ridge grew steeper and steeper. My two friends, less experienced trekkers, decided to turn back. My wife and I continued. Faster than expected, we reached our goal at an elevation of 1,974 m (6746 ft). The cairn that from a distance appeared tiny was at least four meters (twelve feet) high.

We were on the top of Mt. Happo, but the trail continued onward. From that cairn, we saw others forming a line ascending the ridge. The cairns create a route that keeps winter mountain climbers from falling off the sides of cliffs or straying into possible avalanche zones.

Furthermore, one cairn held a metal plaque. Someone, whose son had perished in those mountains, built the cairn to serve as a monument for his child and to protect others.

Mt Happo, Nagano, Japan

Above the clouds Photo by Wakana Oshima

Calculating the distance to the next two cairns and the time remaining before sunset, we decided to walk toward the second cairn. Strong winds had sculpted hard ice and snow into a moonlike texture. The only sound we heard was the crunch of snowshoes breaking through the icy crust.

The sun was close to setting over the highest peaks when we decided to pause. Light shone through a gap in two mountains onto a solitary figure coming toward us. With crampons (like these Kahtoola K 10 Hiking Crampons), an ice ax, and other professional gear, he was equipped adequately for the environment.

Waving a gloved hand in greeting, I marveled at the skills and the bravery that it takes to hike alone in such conditions. Letting him descend in solitude, we followed his trail back to the lodge.

Read More: Why To Use Snowshoes For Your Next Mountaineering Adventure

hiker on Mt. Happo, Nagano, Japan

Solitary Hiker

Accommodation For The Night: Happoike Sanso

The ski lift had long ceased operating for the day when we approached our top-of-the ski-area accommodation, Happoike Sanso. In the day, the mountain hut serves lunch to skiers and other day guests, but in the evening, only snowshoers, backcountry skiers, and other mountain lovers spend the night.

Guests commonly share rooms on busy days. But visiting on a weekday, my wife and I were the only occupants in our room. When fully occupied, guests sleep next to each other on futons upon tatami (mats made of woven straw), and everyone shares toilets. Two same-sex communal Japanese style baths are available. Be prepared for public nudity in the bathing rooms; it is a Japanese custom. The friendly staff prepares hearty and healthy Japanese meals for guests who sit together at long tables.

staff at Happo mountain hut, Nagano, Japan

Friendly mountain hut staff

We paid 12,000 yen each for three meals. Some might think that this was too much for such a simple lodge. However, considering the incredibly remote location—helicopters drop off supplies—the fantastic views, the considerate staff, I was satisfied. Rates differ depending upon the number of requested meals.

My wife is a vegetarian, and the cooks thoughtfully cooked more vegetable dishes than usual for the dinner buffet. That night, the American, Japanese, and Chinese guests shared stories of mountain climbing near Happo One and Hakuba, in other areas within Japan, and around the world. The dining room includes a library of Japanese manga, books about nature, and texts on mountain climbing. In the morning, we ate a traditional style Japanese breakfast of rice, seaweed, fish, vegetables, and miso soup.

Day 2: Happo Ridge To Happo Pond

Morning came with strong winds and heavy snow. The lodge staff advised us to walk on the center of the ridge trail. We ascended again, and visibility continued to decrease. Thus, we followed the footsteps of other hikers. Without those tracks, I would not have continued. My two friends soon felt uncomfortable and went downhill.

whiteout Happo Ridge Trail, Nagano, Japan

Whiteout

However, my wife and I continued. The white sky and white snow were indistinguishable, but visibility slightly increased as we passed the first cairn. Through the falling snow, the shapes of two hikers became visible, and we caught up to them at the next cairn. They were experienced snowshoers with top-notch gear.

Then, after the third cairn, we saw tops of poles sticking out of the snow. The poles indicated trails. If the skies had been clear, we would have seen Happo Pond. Though the scenery was not picturesque, I loved the intensity of the experience.

Happo Pond in whiteout, Nagano

A peak experience

As the ridge we were traveling narrowed, an ancient stone-carved statue of Jizo, appeared in the snow. A Jizo is a Buddhist divinity that protects travelers and children.

Despite the promise of divine protection, my wife suggested that we turn back soon after passing the Jizo. The powdery snow was slippery, and the ridge had narrowed. My wife was justifiably concerned, but our new companions continued onward.

jizo in the snow, Happo Ridge Trail

Jizo in the snow

Retracing our steps, I saw through a wall of snowflakes the vague shape of a man appearing to fall. Worrying that he was injured, I rushed forward. But I could not find him. Then, I noticed a trail slipping like a snake down a mindboggling steep slope. I briefly saw in the whiteness a solo backcountry snowboarder moving through spindly leafless trees. He was one more fantastic mountain athlete.

We rejoined our friends for a hot lunch at the lodge, and they were thrilled we had returned. We did not explore all the area’s trails, but all of us had enjoyed snowshoeing on a gorgeous mountain to the fullest extent of our skills and comfort levels.

With that in mind, both of these snowshoeing hikes are intermediate-advanced treks on the Happo Ridge Route. So, please be prepared with these day accessories if you attempt these outings, especially in these conditions. Also, as we did, be sure to speak to mountain hut staff for trail and safety recommendations.

Read More:
Exotic Snowshoeing In Nagano, Japan
Snowshoeing Bliss in Japan’s Myoko Highlands
Sensational Snowshoeing & Sushi In Japan

Getting to Hakuba from Tokyo, Japan

Regarding getting to Hakuba, you have several options.

First, the Alpico Bus Company provides direct bus service from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Hakuba during winter. Second, if coming from Tokyo City, the same bus company offers more frequent service from Shinjuku, Tokyo, to Hakuba.

Finally, a more expensive option is boarding a bullet train that travels on the Hokuriku Line from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station, where you switch to a local bus that takes ninety minutes to Hakuba. For bullet train information, click here. Also, local buses within Hakuba take guests to the Happo One Ski Area and a few others within Hakuba.

What snowshoe routes have you taken within Japan, specifically Hakuba and Mt. Happo? Let us know in the comments below!

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Snowshoeing Tuneup: Race The Lake Minnetonka Running Series, Excelsior, MN https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/03/04/snowshoeing-tuneup-race-the-lake-minnetonka-running-series-excelsior-mn/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/03/04/snowshoeing-tuneup-race-the-lake-minnetonka-running-series-excelsior-mn/#respond Wed, 04 Mar 2020 22:04:59 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=95411 Three beautiful Excelsior road races in 2020 constitute the Lake Minnetonka Running Series. You can use their 5K format (one event has an optional 10K) to push that speed workout. So, give yourself an objective, set the event dates … Continue reading

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Three beautiful Excelsior road races in 2020 constitute the Lake Minnetonka Running Series. You can use their 5K format (one event has an optional 10K) to push that speed workout. So, give yourself an objective, set the event dates aside, and enjoy the fun racing crowd while training. Start your new decade with a winning initiative and you’re sure to have a rousing good time.

Lake Minnetonka running series 2020 mug

There’s only ONE way to get this beautiful Lake Minnetonka Running Series 2020 collector’s stein: Enter and finish the three qualifying Excelsior events. Easy!

Furthermore, win a distinctive award: the world’s most beautiful mug (okay, in the Top Ten) designed just for the series. Those earning this mug enjoy new features this year, with plans that include a presentation tent and award ceremony to recognize this accomplishment. So bring along friends and family and carry a big smile for those photo opportunities! Then, take your collector’s edition mug and go fill it up!

Lake Minnetonka Racing Series Events

Sign up for one or all three of the races in 2020, celebrating spring, summer, and fall!

Bridgewater Bank's Luck of the Lake 5K

The best place to be for a St Patrick’s Day celebration: Bridgewater Bank’s Luck of the Lake 5K

BRIDGEWATER BANK’S LUCK O’ THE LAKE 5K

Toe the start line with Bridgewater Bank’s Luck O’ the Lake 5K on Saturday, March 14.  First, stop in at Excelsior Brewing Company for registration and the distinctive souvenir glass. There are lots of places to use it after the race as the festive day continues in charming downtown Excelsior.

Many racers continue the good times wearing their exclusive long-sleeve race shirt, the coolest out there, with their event number, still attached. The town jams with music, displays, and an all-day heated Tent Party. One’s favorite beverages pour everywhere, including Kowalski’s complimentary bottled water and bananas, to refresh and rehydrate after the competition.

Onstage magic performances keep the attention of young celebrants. Go ahead, spend the day here. Note, an accompanying one-mile race, though not part of the series, might be your preferred distance. Enter it and have fun.

racers at Lake Minnetonka St Patty's 5K after the race

A finish means you’re in the hunt for a 2020 Lake Minnetonka Running Series award! (All Luck O’ the Lake photos courtesy Emily John Photography)

45TH EXCELSIOR FIRECRACKER 5K AND 10K RUN

One of the venerable races in Minnesota, the Excelsior Firecracker, celebrates four-and-a-half decades of competition in 2020. Additionally, the Firecracker kicks off Fourth of July, on a Saturday this year, with a rousing sendoff, promising plenty of time to celebrate the U.S’s birthday. Either the 5K or 10K distance qualifies for the running series. Plus, the 1-mile offers a separate challenge for the fleet-a-foot.

The large Excelsior Elementary building hosts entrants and guests with swag, real bargains, and souvenirs along with race information and registration. Find plentiful parking on school grounds and off-site. A live drum corp spices up the Firecracker’s route and one’s enthusiasm as you take in stellar views of historic downtown Excelsior. You can dream you’re swimming in the refreshing Lake Minnetonka.

Then, the race finishes in Excelsior Commons Park, which will continue to stir your patriotic emotions. The flag-waving crowd cheers your charge to the finish through the massive ALARC columns and finishing lanes. Go ahead, give ’em a fist-pump!

racers and spectators at 4th of July- Minnetonka running series

Fun on the Fourth of July

Meanwhile, a unique finisher’s medal hangs from your neck while entering a festive wonderland for all sorts of happiness and joy. Nothing like a postrace ride on a Ferris wheel helping you recover. Then, overlooking the charms of the crowd and yachting on Lake Minnetonka, note the sailboats tacking to windward. What a great scene in America!

Celebrate the holiday right where you’re at in downtown, which features a book of choices for activities, shops, and eats. After taking in refreshing beverages and meals at Maynards Restaurant and Excelsior Brewing Company during the day, make sure to schedule time at the Excelsior Commons. One of the grandest fireworks displays in the state culminates the holiday.

family after racing 4th of July at Minnetonka Racing Series

So much to do in Excelsior on the Fourth of July (All Excelsior Firecracker photographs courtesy Minnetonka Community Ed)

PARK NICOLLET APPLE OF THE LAKE 5K

The big finale of the Lake Minnetonka Running Series, Park Nicollet’s 8th annual Apple of the Lake 5K, races on a crisp Saturday, September 19. Then, you’ll be ushering in the Autumnal Equinox just 72 hours later.

Let the fall season unfold with the event’s eighth-year as the route turns down Excelsior’s famous Water Street, one of the state’s tops. As you return, the racecourse peels off near Maynard’s and provides a unique finish on the Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail. Finally, push to the finish line where music and fans welcome you to one of the most beautiful times of the year.

logo for Lake Minnetonka Running Series

The fifth annual one-mile race precedes the 5k and also covers the LRT Trail. Kids get to run their distance, too.

Smile big for those photos that friends and family will snap as series finishers receive their Lake Minnetonka Running Series 2020 collector’s mug at a special tent close to the finish. Then celebrate at the annual Apple Day Festival throughout downtown Excelsior, a Fall Festival for couples and families alike. Finally, fill up your mug with plenty of apple cider. That is cider in there, right?

Racers at Lake Minnetonka Apple Day 5K

The final race of the Lake Minnetonka Running Series: Park Nicollet Apple Day 5K.

Don’t Miss The Lake Minnetonka Running Series

Each of the three contests creates a unique racecourse while sharing some of the most scenic roadways. Additionally, Minnetonka Lake backdrops make one feel refreshed and at home. Three different starts, three different finishes and three distinct challenges to earning your finish make a terrific and easy-to-get-to race destination. Furthermore, you receive the hero bonus of becoming a series honoree.

What do you do to win a finisher’s award for the 2020 Lake Minnetonka Running Series? Finish all three events in (generous) regulation time. Oh, and register for the competitions. Go HERE for that step if you haven’t yet registered for the races.

medal presentation Lake Minnetonka Apple Day 5K

Collect your medal at the Park Nicollet Apple Day 5K finish, then check to see if you earned a Lake Minnetonka Running Series collector’s mug

Laura Hotvet, Director at the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce, said in MinnesotaRunner “Your Luck of the Lake registration helps raise FUNds for fun; Irish green FUN (Luck ‘O Lake 5K), patriotic red white and blue FUN (Firecracker 5K and 10K), and red apple FUN (Apple of the Lake 5K). Did you know the Chamber purchases and maintains the colorful hanging baskets that bloom every spring, holiday lights and street décor, hosts the annual free to the public 4th of July fireworks, live music, parade, aerobatic airshow, Art on the Lake, Apple Day, Crazy Days, Girls Night Out, and much, much, more fun?”

Port of Excelsior

Lake Minnetonka Running Series supports FUN in Excelsior (All Apple of the Lake photos courtesy Studio 220 Photography)

With one of the remarkable features of nature in Minnesota by your side, that being Lake Minnetonka, plus the splendor of one of the country’s best main streets, the challenge of finishing the running series gets lost in Excelsior’s charm. That’s why this race series seems to go by so quickly. So, absorb this beautiful and healthy way to use your time. Enjoy a rousing start to the new decade while getting prepped for the snow that’s sure to follow.

Write phillip@ultrasuperior.com. Then, wave and say “Hi!” as you pass him on the course . . . .

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Snowshoeing at Arizona Nordic Village, Flagstaff, AZ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/03/03/snowshoeing-flagstaff-arizona/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/03/03/snowshoeing-flagstaff-arizona/#respond Tue, 03 Mar 2020 18:24:58 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=95671 About 15 miles (24 km) north of Flagstaff, on the way to the Grand Canyon, is the Arizona Nordic Village. There, you can snowshoe some 17 miles (27 km) of trails through a stunningly dense pine forest. You may … Continue reading

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About 15 miles (24 km) north of Flagstaff, on the way to the Grand Canyon, is the Arizona Nordic Village. There, you can snowshoe some 17 miles (27 km) of trails through a stunningly dense pine forest. You may cross paths with xc-skiers along the way, with a smattering of front country and backcountry yurts available to rent. Occasionally, you get long views through winter’s trees to the surrounding snowy San Francisco Peaks, remnants of a stratovolcano. These views make for an idyllic outing in a region that is of much spiritual importance to numerous Native American peoples, including the Havasupai, Hopi, and Navajo.

yurts in Flagstaff

Yurts offered at Arizona Nordic Village, along with gorgeous views. Photo by James Murren.

Snowshoeing Trails at Arizona Nordic Village in Flagstaff

The snowshoe and multi-use trails at Arizona Nordic Village range in difficulty and length from 0.3 to 3.5 mi (0.5 km to 5.7 km). You can purchase a trail pass for $5 to $20, depending on the day of the week and type of trail. Snowshoe rentals are available on-site, and dogs are also allowed on trails. So feel free to bring your furry friend along with you.

The trails at Arizona Nordic Village intersect at several junctions but have easy to follow signage. A map is available so that you can create your snowshoeing adventure. The route I chose to go and have described below is the Basalt trail > Volcano trail > AA trail > Lava trail > Magma trail > Fox trail > Cinder trail.

Read More: Arizona Don’t Know Snow: Snowshoeing Mt. Humphreys

Volcano Trail, Arizona Nordic, Flagstaff

Heading on the Volcano trail. Photo by James Murren

Basalt to Volcano Trail

I set out on the Basalt trail, a one mi (1.6 km) trail easily accessed from the lodge. The terrain was not difficult and would be great for beginners. It’s a mostly casual stroll with the trekking poles marking the snow, so it eased my heart rate up a little.

Before long, I came to the junction with the Volcano trail and took it, a total distance of 1.3 mi (2.1 km). A few more ups than downs, including some sustained climbs, marks this trail as an intermediate trail. I shed a layer on my core torso. The air temps in the lower 20s degree Fahrenheit being no match for a sun-dappled morning of physical exertion and keeping my body warm.

AA to Lava Trail

At the junction with the AA trail, I turned right and went up to the intersection for the Magma trail and Lava trail. I wanted to do the longer top section of the snowshoe trail system, so I put one snowshoe in front of the other and made my way out on the Lava trail. This trail is the most difficult snowshoeing trail at Arizona Nordic Village at 2.4mi (3.9km). Here, especially on the upper section, the terrain had me breathing heavy and my legs started to burn. An aspen tree protection project was a great reason to stop, with the sign indicating that deer and elk were fenced off. Keeping these animals away helps to protect the aspiring trees from becoming the animals’ next meal.

blue sky at Arizona Nordic, Flagstaff

A beautiful day at Arizona Nordic Center. Photo by James Murren.

Later on, I came upon another snowshoer, she having as wonderful of a peaceful outing as I was having. She commented that we were soon to the top and that it was then pretty much down all the way back to the lodge. I liked that idea.

More vistas of the distant snowy mountains reminded me of the need to slow down. I paused and breathed in the air and listened to the trees. I observed birds flying through limbs and contemplated the volcanic boulders seeming inconsistency with the landscape. Generally speaking, appreciating that winter was upon me, though in a less-than-burly-blizzard-like sense.

volcanic rocks while snowshoeing at Arizona Nordic Village in Flagstaff

Check out the volcanic rocks along the way. Photo by James Murren

Magma to Fox to Cinder Trail

At an altitude of 8000+ feet (2438 m), I was pleased that the hard climbing was over for the day. Back down I went, merging on to Magma trail, an intermediate 1mi trail (1.7km). It then connects into the Fox trail, an easy, 0.3 mi (0.5 km) trail.

Here, the forest opened up into sweeping snowy fields, and I saw more people on the trails. From the Fox trail, I snowshoed onto part of the Cinder trail, another easy 1.1 mi (1.8 km) trail. The Fox to Cinder trails served as the way back to the lodge, where gaggles of xc-skiers were coming and going on the trail system. More snowshoers were out and about on the lower trails, as well, some seemingly having their first go on the ‘shoes.

Two and a half hours of snowshoeing in Flagstaff, Arizona, was a solid physical workout. It cleansed my bogged own mind of detritus like work worries and family illnesses. Trees and wildlife surviving the season reminded me of resilience or the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.

Nature not only heals, but she also teaches.

James Murren

The author is enjoying the day. Photo by James Murren

Additional Trail and Apres Info

Arizona Nordic Village: For more info, everything you need to know before going can be found at the website, from trail use fees to rentals. Note: there are clean bathrooms inside the lodge and hot drinks.

Coconino National Forest: Officially, the Arizona Nordic Village is Coconino National Forest.

Matador Coffee Roasting Company:  Along historic route 66, stop and get a delicious cup of fresh-brewed coffee, or some food, before/after snowshoeing.

Dark Sky Brewing: Dark Sky has an eclectic little tasting room in downtown Flag, complete with pizza offerings.

Lumberyard Brewing Company:  A standard in Flagstaff’s craft brew scene, stop in for some grub and cheer at Lumberyard by the railroad tracks.

interesting tree

View while snowshoeing at Arizona Nordic Village. Photo by James Murren.

Have or would you go snowshoeing at Arizona Nordic Village in Flagstaff? What are your favorite trails in the area?

Read Next: Snowshoe New Mexico: Where To Go In The Land Of Enchantment

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Heil Family Awarded the 2020 Cindy Brochman Memorial Snowshoe Mag Person of the Year https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/03/02/heil-family-2020-cindy-brochman-memorial-snowshoe-mag-person-of-the-year/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/03/02/heil-family-2020-cindy-brochman-memorial-snowshoe-mag-person-of-the-year/#respond Mon, 02 Mar 2020 21:02:45 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=95292 The 13th Annual 2020 Cindy Brochman Memorial Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year Award is presented to Medford, Wisconsin’s Heil family. Ann and Steve, with Michayla, Josiah, Sarah, and Abigail, along with a third-generation snowshoer and upcoming star, Ian go … Continue reading

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The 13th Annual 2020 Cindy Brochman Memorial Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year Award is presented to Medford, Wisconsin’s Heil family. Ann and Steve, with Michayla, Josiah, Sarah, and Abigail, along with a third-generation snowshoer and upcoming star, Ian go above and beyond to share their passion and dedication to the snowshoeing community and to the United States Snowshoe Association.

The surprise honor of the award occurred at the 2020 United States Snowshoe Association Championship award dinner Saturday night, February 29, 2020, in Leadville, Colorado.

THE SNOWSPORT FAMILY TRADITION

Snowsports enjoy family togetherness perhaps like no other outdoor winter activity. It comes from the wonder of a snowflake to the bundling-up-getting-out-the-door mentality. It surfaces from enjoying physical exertion together to warm drinks and roasted marshmallows afterward. The air tastes better in snow conditions.

Cindy Brochman

Cindy Brochman winning the inaugural Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year Award in 2007 at the Minneapolis National Championships.

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing’s early days reached one of those tipping points when a Norwegian-American, John Albert Thompson, used long skis and snowshoes to traverse terrain that had puzzled others. He taught us, while unknowingly becoming famous as “Snowshoe Thompson,” that snowshoes and skis serve widespread needs. And from the mid-1850s to now, the world watches in awe as individuals perform on snowshoes and skis. There’s the “I’m on the team” family of competitors.

But at events we watch or attend, a family attitude with moms and dads, brothers and sisters and relatives, too, prevails.  An atmosphere hugs the air where bringing a little of home to the winter experience lauds over all others.

Heil Family with Cindy Brochman

La Ciaspolada Means Winter in Italy! Steve and Michayla on the Right, Cindy Brochman far left, photo courtesy of Michayla Heil

Heil Family

Like the Caldwell family in Nordic Skiing, snowshoeing has its first family, too, though one finds many more than just one in either sport. The Heil family contributes above and beyond by supporting and promoting snowshoeing and the United States Snowshoe Association (USSSA) in multiple ways over the past 20 years of its life. Plus, the family lives right in the middle of a hotbed of snowshoe racing.

Medford, Wisconsin

Josiah Heil races the challenging 2011 national championships at Cable, Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Michayla Heil

Medford Wisconsin offers access to events like the Timm’s Hill Trudge, North End Classic, Snowshoe Scurry, Northwoods Winter Championships, RASTA Snowshoe Hare, Perkinstown Tramp, The Flambeau Hospital Phillips Flurry, Mosquito Hill Snowshoe Races, Bison Boogie, Iola Twilight, and Freezin’ For A Reason.

Then, more to come: Powder Keg, 9-Hole Snowshoe, Underdown Snowshoe Races, Book across the Bay, Chocolate City Snowshoe Shuffle, Scotch Creek Woodland Waddle, Balsam Lake Snowshoe Race, Stomp the Swamp, and Lakewoods Snowshoe [Thanks to Cute Moose for providing this information. See Tim Zbikowski and Carol Klitzke racing at any number of snowshoe events. Be sure and recognize them for the effort putting together this comprehensive list. There are many other events on their site not listed here].

HEIL’S HISTORY OF SNOWSHOE RACING

The Heil family has been heavily involved in snowshoe racing for more than a decade, an aspect heavily considered for the 2020 Cindy Brochman Memorial Snowshoe Mag Person of the Year award.

U.S Championship Races & Placements: The Start

Michayla Heil began competing on snowshoes in 2007, earning a berth on the US Junior Women’s National Snowshoe Team in her first try. Then, she made the team again in 2008 and won 2009’s Junior Women’s National Championship in Oregon.

Excellent racing runs in the family. Michayla’s younger brother Josiah raced three USSSA National Snowshoe Championships as well. Moreover, he earned a spot on the 2009 US Junior National Men’s Snowshoe Team, alongside Michayla. Furthermore, dad, Steve Heil competed at the USSSA National Championships on five different occasions, medaling in his age group at the 2008’s event in Ogden, Utah.

Heil family at 2010 USSSA national championships

Josiah and Michayla race the 2010 USSSA National Championships. Photo courtesy of Michayla Heil

The Heils continued their momentum through the next several years. Michayla kept her streak alive by winning slots on the US Junior National Snowshoe Team in 2010 and 2011. Additionally, Josiah Heil staked a seventh-place junior finish in 2011’s National Championships in Cable, Wisconsin along with Heil sisters, Sarah and Abigail, who claimed top 10 finishes on the challenging course.

Michayla Heil racing in 2013 Phillips Flurry Snowshoe Race

Michayla wins the 5km female class (and a Top Ten finisher overall) at the 2013 Phillips Flurry Snowshoe Race in Phillips, Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Michayla Heil

U.S Championship Races & Placements: Today

Once Michayla graduated to the Senior ranks, she earned a gold medal in the 2012 National Championships in the 20-24 age group. Plus, she finished 6th overall at the 2013 nationals and narrowly missed a spot on the US Senior Women’s National Team. In 2015, she finished 12th overall in the Senior Women’s 10km, again claiming the gold in the ladies’ 20-24 class. 2017 saw her break back into the top ten with 7th overall in the Women’s Senior field. She claimed the Women’s 25-29 age group gold.

Skip forward to 2019. The third generation of the Heil family, Ian, claimed the gold medal in the Kid’s Kilo.

Medal ceremony, championships 2010

Medal ceremony on a chilly New York day, 2010, photo courtesy of Michayla Heil

International Races & Placements

Moreover, several Heils have taken their racing outside of the U.S to an international level. Michayla and Steve Heil raced in the 2008 La Ciaspolada Snowshoe Race in Italy. They competed alongside the best, like Cindy Brochman, the namesake of the award. Cindy said of this race, “Think of racing in Italy as an experience, not just a performance on snowshoes”.  Michayla earned the19th place overall in a loaded women’s field.

Ian Heil in front of Lakewoods Resort, Cable, WI

Ian Heil sporting his No. 1 racing number in front of the race headquarters, Lakewoods Resort, Cable, Wisconsin, photo courtesy of Michayla Heil

Then, a month later, Steve and Michayla took their racing to Myoko, Japan, at the 2008 Japanese Snowshoe National Championships. Michayla won the 5km race overall, beating all racers outright, with her dad Steve, right behind her notching a silver medal. (This year, the World Snowshoe Federation returned to Myoko for the 2020 World Snowshoe Championships.)

In January 2010, Michayla raced the La Ciaspolada again. Then, two months later, she raced in Vancouver, BC, during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Furthermore, she raced to the IASSRF Junior Women’s Snowshoe World Championship title on Grouse Mountain.

Michayla Heil USSSA Junior National Team

Michayla earns a berth on the USSSA Junior National Team, photo courtesy of Michayla Heil

Impacts Behind The Scenes

Ann Heil, better known as mom, along with Michayla and Steve, provided valuable help for the USSSA at other national championships.  Mark Elmore, USSSA Sports Director, said, “They have assisted us at any number of events over the years at athlete check-In, registration, working the finish line, preparing and presenting awards, the ceremonies involved, plus setting up the other ancillary events like the athletes’ reception. All of these support the sport of snowshoeing and snowshoe racing. They have been an integral part of the success of the United States Snowshoe Association.”

UPON REFLECTION: 20 YEARS FOR THE USSSA

Cindy Brochman, the namesake of the award had a passion for snowshoeing and a willingness to lend a helping hand. Similarly, the Heil family embodies this same spirit and devotion to the sport of snowshoeing. Furthermore, the United States Snowshoe Association comes together this season to celebrate its 20th year of racing and the Heils served as awesome ambassadors for most of those years.

Mark Elmore added, “Thank you to the Heils for all your past efforts and all that you continue to do to support the USSSA and the sport we all love so much. Congratulations on the honor as your family celebrates their selection as 2020’s Cindy Brochman Memorial Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year.”

Heil family helping at United States Snowshoe Association Nationals

At the Leadville Nationals, the Heil family provides a helping hand. Once again, they keep the famous USSSA Sports Director Mark Elmore on the right track with no idea of the honor to come their way.

HISTORY: CINDY BROCHMAN MEMORIAL SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE PERSON OF YEAR

The Cindy Brochman Memorial Person of the Year Award began in 2007 at the Minneapolis nationals. Here, Cindy performed as Race Director and received this honor. Since that time, 12 others, including the Heil Family, have been recognized. Although all the stories are different, the recipients rank high in their contribution to the sport of snowshoeing.

Honorees include Danelle Ballengee (2008), James F Graupner (2009), Mark Elmore (2010), Bob Dion (2011), Phillip Gary Smith (2012), Laurie Lambert (2013), Jim Tucker (2014), Braveheart Jim McDonell (2015), Jake Thamm (2016), Richard Bolt (2017), and Eric Hartmark (2019). And now, the Heil Family (2020).

Cindy Brochman with her award, Minnesota, USSSA National Championships

This photo (circa Spring 2009) of Cindy with her 2007 Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year Award, photo UltraSuperior Media

Cindy Brochman succumbed to cancer on December 27, 2009, at age 44. This video includes details about her life and inspiration. The award changed to honor her memory beginning in 2010.


Contact Phillip Gary Smith: phillip@ultrasuperior.com

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Why To Use Snowshoes On Your Next Mountaineering Adventure https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/23/why-to-use-snowshoes-on-your-next-mountaineering-adventure/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/23/why-to-use-snowshoes-on-your-next-mountaineering-adventure/#respond Sun, 23 Feb 2020 22:05:18 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=95272 Whether it’s helping you negotiate the approach or providing flotation through sections of deep snow, snowshoes are an essential tool for mountaineering. Discover why you should add snowshoes to your mountaineering kit, along with a few other critical pieces of … Continue reading

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Whether it’s helping you negotiate the approach or providing flotation through sections of deep snow, snowshoes are an essential tool for mountaineering. Discover why you should add snowshoes to your mountaineering kit, along with a few other critical pieces of gear for your next trip.

Why Use Snowshoes For Approach Excellence

Even though snowshoes are too unwieldy to tackle a rocky summit ridge or vertical strip of ice, they’re incredibly useful for getting you there. Here are some of the notable ways that snowshoes will help you ace the approach on your next mountaineering adventure.

Snowshoeing on Shasta

Approaching Mount Shasta’s West Face

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Light and Compact

Many mountaineers choose snowshoes for the simple reason that they deliver the lightest and most compact form of flotation available. For example, weighing just under four pounds, snowshoes like the tried-and-true MSR Evo Ascent will keep the approach manageable, allowing you to avoid post-holing in seemingly bottomless snow. And when the going gets deep, you can add MSR’s modular tails (12 oz. for the pair) for increased flotation. When it’s time to transition from the snowy approach to the “real climbing,” snowshoes easily stow on your pack.

User-Friendly

Snowshoes are the most user-friendly flotation option available to mountaineers. Today’s snowshoe bindings are super-easy to put on and fit comfortably on most mountaineering boots. Many snowshoe bindings are even compatible with snowboard boots, which is great news for those sliding into backcountry lines and searching for speedy descents on their latest mountaineering objectives.

More Approachable

Compared to other tools used for mountaineering approaches, snowshoes are the most accessible. Unlike alpine touring skis and splitboards, they don’t require an additional skill set—you already know how to walk. They also avoid relying on bindings with multiple moving parts that can break or ice up (issues amplified when splitboarding, which necessitates removing the binding from the board when transitioning from up to down and vice versa). Snowshoes also eliminate the dependence on skins which are subject to their own issues including glue failure, tips, and clips breaking, and snow sticking to them.

Unfamiliar Circumstances

Heavy packs, steep terrain, and high-consequence turns can have even advanced skiers and snowboarders struggling on a mountaineering trip; this is especially true for those more accustomed to shredding the resort. Alternately, snowshoes provide a comfortable and confidence-inspiring approach and descent option.

More Cost-Effective

Comparatively, snowshoes are a bargain for getting into the backcountry. A pair of the aforementioned MSR Evo Ascent snowshoes costs a couple of hundred dollars, which is roughly the price of a set of skins—never mind boards, bindings, boots, etc. Snowshoes are a no-brainer for those who prefer to spend their dollars on adventure rather than equipment.

Simplicity

Snowshoes are an awesome choice for trips that involve technical climbing or ice climbing. Covering Class 4 and Class 5 terrain or water ice is doable in ski and snowboard boots, but it feels a lot more secure in mountaineering boots. Rather than tagging the second pair of boots along for a techy section (or skiing in Silverttas, uggghhhh!), snowshoes allow you to undertake your entire trip with just one pair of boots.

Versatility

In the Northeast (where we are located), snowshoes shine on many of the region’s classic mountaineering objectives where you’ll encounter deep snow, sheer ice, rocks, mud, dirt, thick scrub, and downed trees—often all within one section of trail. A durable pair of snowshoes allow you to traipse over it all without having to take them on and off. If you do decide to take your snowshoes off during the trail, just ensure you choose the right backpack.

Celebrating in snowshoes after a successful ascent of Mount Shasta

Snowshoe Options For Mountaineering

For those interested in using snowshoes, check out a few options below- all of which offer aggressive traction and adequate flotation for those steep slopes on your next mountaineering adventure.

MSR Evo Ascent

The Evo Ascent, mentioned above, is a great lightweight option for the approach. It’s also the most budget ascent model of the MSR family. The plastic decking provides long-term durability and the aggressive toe crampons, along with steel traction rails provide the grip for steep terrain. Plus, a 3 strap binding is built for a diverse range of footwear and is glove-friendly for those cold days. Available in 22″ with a recommended load of up to 180 lbs.

MSR Lightning Ascent

MSR’s Lightning Ascent offers edge-to-edge grip providing some of the most aggressive traction on the market for challenging terrain. A heel lift bar helps alleviate muscle fatigue when ascending slopes, while the Paragon binding reduces pressure points with secure alignment. Expect a higher price point for this aluminum snowshoe, but it’s well worth the reliability of these snowshoes on the mountain. To increase floatation, the Lightning Ascent also has the option to add on a modular tail. Available in 22″, 25″ or 30″ with recommended loads up to 180-280 lbs.

Redfeather Alpine

With a unique v-tail design, the aluminum Redfeather Alpine offers maneuverability on the mountain as the rip-stop vinyl decking withstands sub-zero temperatures. Plus, the Epic Binding features 3 easy-to-use ratchet straps for foot stability for a variety of boot types, which sit on a high-impact polymer studded plate. A heel lift bar helps with muscle fatigue while the aggressive front and rear powder coated crampons help prevent snow and ice build-up. Available in 25″, 30″ or 35″ with a recommended loads up to 175-220 lbs.

Tubbs Flex VRT

The Tubbs Flex VRT has flexible decking, which helps relieves stress on the muscles and joints when ascending. The unique Dynamic Fit binding combines an easy to use Boa closure for a precise fit, along with Eva foam padding to relieve pressure points. Additionally, the Viper 2.0 carbon steel toe crampon and 3D-curved traction rails offer excellent traction. Available in 24″ and 28″ with a recommended load between 160-190 lbs.

Atlas Montane

With its spring-loaded suspension, the Atlas Montane helps absorb impact while allowing natural and free foot movement. The All-Trac toe crampons and Traverse Trac side rails provide the grip needed to traverse and ascend. Furthermore, a heel lift bar helps relieve fatigue while the Nytex decking is flexible and durable for a worry-free and quiet outing. Available in 30″ and 35″ with recommended loads of 250-300 lbs.

With similar features to the Montane, Atlas has a woman’s specific model of the ‘shoe, the Atlas Elektra Montane. This snowshoe is built with a tapered tail and narrower frame to match a more narrow gait, but with the same great features to conquer those mountain slopes. Available in 23″ and 27″ with recommended loads of 160-200 lbs.

GV Mountain Extreme

Built like a mountaineering snowshoe, the GV Mountain Extreme has a unique decking design to prevent snow build-up on your trek. Toe and heel crampons offer grip on the slopes with a heel lift bar to reduce muscle fatigue. Plus, the Entech decking can resist temperatures as low as -50C, along with a flexible aluminum frame. The foot stays in place and fits comfortably with ratchet bindings, a textured footrest, and tapered tip binding. Available in 25″ and 30″ with recommended loads of 140-170 lbs.

Snowshoe mountaineering

Snowshoeing near the summit of Lassen Peak

Other Essential Equipment

Of course, snowshoes aren’t the only piece of equipment you’ll need for tackling the mountaineering trips on your tick list. Here’s some of the other gear you’ll need.

Ice Axe and Crampons

An ice ax and crampons are fundamental components of any mountaineering kit. They literally keep you attached to the mountain as you climb uphill. Before embarking on any mountaineering adventure, please be aware of how to use these winter mountaineering tools. 

Avalanche Equipment

Depending on the terrain, avalanche preparedness may also be required. Bring along a beacon or transceiver, probe, and shovel. Alternatively, you can purchase this equipment as a full set from Backcountry Access or Black Diamond. Of course, you’ll also want to be trained on how to use them and how to spot avalanche warning signs and danger zones. 

Read More: Avalanche Avoidance & FAQ

Climbing Equipment

A helmet, harness, and rope are three other critical pieces of mountaineering equipment. The helmet protects your head from rock or ice fall, while the harness and rope provide a rope team a degree of protection should one member fall and be unable to self-arrest. A harness and rope (and the knowledge to use them) are also essential if your route has any crevasses. And, if your route does have crevasses, having a crevasse rescue kit (pickets, cordelette, slings, carabiners, and a Petzl Micro Traxion Pulley) is essential.

Layers

Appropriate layers are also critical for mountaineering. Perhaps our favorite layer is the super-warm big puffy jacket that’s worn during all breaks and time in camp.  

Read More: Winter Clothing Tips From A Snowshoe Guide

Snowshoeing on Mount Rainier

Snowshoeing to Mount Rainier’s Camp Muir

Did snowshoes provide a critical assist on a recent mountaineering trip? We want to hear about your experience with them in the mountains. Tell us in the comments!

Read Next:
Whumphing and Mountain Snowshoe Adventures: Andrew Nugara’s World
Test Your Snowshoes: 5 Almost Easy To Climb Mountain Peaks

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Snowshoe Racing To Reach New Heights at CMC Leadville, CO https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/20/us-snowshoe-championships-2020/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/20/us-snowshoe-championships-2020/#respond Thu, 20 Feb 2020 17:58:07 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=95416 A steady stream of registrations is flowing in as Leadville prepares to welcome racers and recreationists to the 2020 Dion Snowshoes U.S. National Snowshoe Championships Feb. 28-March 1.

Colorado Mountain College Leadville, along with the Lake County Tourism Panel, … Continue reading

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A steady stream of registrations is flowing in as Leadville prepares to welcome racers and recreationists to the 2020 Dion Snowshoes U.S. National Snowshoe Championships Feb. 28-March 1.

Colorado Mountain College Leadville, along with the Lake County Tourism Panel, is heading up the efforts to host the event. Furthermore, area restaurants, lodges, and businesses are pitching in to make this, the 20th year of the championships, a memorable one.

Event director Leslie Gamez, who is also the CMC Foundation’s regional development officer for Leadville, said that the college would never have been able to host the championships without the outpouring of community support.

“The Lake County Tourism Panel and numerous local sponsors have helped with funding and in-kind gifts,” Gamez said. “Local businesses like Community Threads, Melanzana, and Freight have stepped in with donations that are helping us produce a terrific event for competitors and helping to showcase our mountain community.”

CMC Leadville snowshoe trails

Colorado Mountain College Leadville is gearing up to host the 2020 Dion Snowshoes U.S. National Snowshoe Championships Feb. 28-March 1. The races will be held on the trails adjacent to the college’s Leadville campus, like those here during the 2020 Colorado Cup snowshoe races on Jan. 25, 2020. Photo Rachel Brunetti

Snowshoeing For All

The championship weekend is for everyone. For example, heavy hitters competing in the event are Michelle Hummel of Albuquerque (two-time U.S. Women’s National Snowshoe champion and the 2018 WSSF Women’s World Snowshoe champion), Josiah Middaugh of Vail (six-time U.S. Men’s National Snowshoe champion and a former U.S. and World XTERRA Triathlon champion) and Joseph Gray of Colorado Springs (five-time XTERRA Trail Run World champion). So will high school and collegiate racers, and the event welcomes even occasional snowshoers who can run the course at their own pace in recreational races.

The United States Snowshoe Association produces the annual racing event at host sites that bid for the honor. Cable, Wisconsin, hosted the championships last year. Also, Bend, Oregon, and Woodford, Vermont, have served as host sites. Leadville’s selection in 2020 sets it apart as the highest USSSA national snowshoe championships in the races’ history.

“It makes sense for us to host the championships since the races can be held on our stellar campus trails,” said Darren Brungardt, the championships’ race director, who’s also an assistant professor of mathematics at CMC Leadville and the head coach of CMC’s cross country running team.

Besides the races, CMC Leadville will host a vendor expo at the campus’s Climax Molybdenum Leadership Center. Several snowshoe companies will be on hand, as well as outdoor clothing manufacturers and local organizations. Get Outdoors Leadville! is planning to host some activities for children, as well.

Read More: Run Rabbit Run: Transition from Running To Snowshoe Racing

Prepping For The 2020 Snowshoe Championship Races

CMC Leadville ski area operations faculty and students are grooming the trails adjacent to the campus in preparation for six races that will be held during the two days of competition. They’ll continue to prepare the course up through the championships.

Additionally, the events involve CMC staff and students from a range of disciplines. They’ll oversee critical components of the race, including course design, timing system, and results to ensure that competitors have world-class race experience.

“I really enjoy the opportunity to get students involved in event grooming because it is so unique,” said Jason Gusaas, who teaches ski area operations at the campus. “Special techniques are utilized, and schedules are adjusted according to the weather. It gives the students exposure to a higher level of grooming.”

“Hosting a national competitive race gives our students first-hand experiences in sports event management,” said Gamez. “They’re learning not only about racecourse set up, but safety, venue management, and spectator flow, and much more.”

Read More: Hidden Secrets: Preparing For A Snowshoe Distance Event

The Schedule

Starting at noon on Friday, Feb. 28, participants will check-in and register at race headquarters at CMC Leadville. Then, that evening, there will be a welcome reception and pre-race meeting.

Saturday, Feb. 29, is race day, with both champion snowshoe competition and recreational snowshoe races. In the afternoon, there will be an awards ceremony.

Finally, the championship weekend winds up on Sunday, Mar. 1, with a recreational relay race.

“We are thrilled to welcome competitors from across the country to experience our amazing winter playground and warm Leadville hospitality,” said Gamez.

“This gives our community the opportunity to showcase the abundant access to winter recreation in Lake County,” said Cooper Mallozzi, the dean of the School of Hospitality, Tourism & Recreation at the college. Furthermore, “Leadville is a real mountain town that embraces endurance activities and winter in general.”

For registration details and more on the U.S Snowshoe Championships for 2020, go to runreg.com/2020ussnowshoechampionshipscom or the event website, www.2020ussnowshoechampionships.com. For information about Leadville, visit leadvilletwinlakes.com or visit coloradomtn.edu/leadville for information about CMC Leadville.

Read More: Colorado Cup: A Never To Forget Adventure For Snowshoe Championships

Colorado Mountain College supplied a version of this post as part of a press release. 

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Snowshoeing In Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/14/snowshoeing-in-algonquin-provincial-park-ontario/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/14/snowshoeing-in-algonquin-provincial-park-ontario/#respond Fri, 14 Feb 2020 19:23:49 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=95139 Canada is home to some of the best snowshoeing destinations anywhere in the world. Packed with historic parks, backcountry ski lodges, snow-capped mountain peaks, and plenty of gorgeous views, it’s a snowshoer’s paradise.  But Canada is a big place you … Continue reading

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Canada is home to some of the best snowshoeing destinations anywhere in the world. Packed with historic parks, backcountry ski lodges, snow-capped mountain peaks, and plenty of gorgeous views, it’s a snowshoer’s paradise.  But Canada is a big place you say! Where should you go? Well, if you’re tired of the same old trails and you’re looking for a new snowshoeing adventure, look no further than Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. You won’t be disappointed.

About Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

Established in 1893, Algonquin Provincial Park, located between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River is the oldest provincial park in Canada. It’s also one of the most popular parks in the country and it’s easy to see why. Larger than the state of Delaware in the United States, it’s home to over 2,000 lakes, 805 km (500 miles) of rivers and streams and some of the best winter camping and snowshoe trails in North America. Not to mention the picturesque maple hills and an abundance of wildlife. 

Algonquin Provincial Park is about 300 km (186 mi) north of Toronto, Ontario and about 260 km (162 mi) west of Ottawa, Ontario, Canadas capital. This makes Algonquin Provincial Park a great destination for a weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city or for visitors that want to visit two of Canada’s most popular showcase cities.

Read More: Snowshoeing in Gatineau Park, Gatineau, Quebec

snowshoeing trails Algonquin Park, Ontario

Beautiful trails in Algonquin Provincial Park. Photo: Shutterstock/Hannes Deters

Snowshoeing In Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

Snowshoeing enthusiasts can go virtually anywhere in the park, presuming you are an experienced snowshoer. For beginners, it’s best to stay on marked trails. Please be aware though that not all areas are plowed during the winter, so please check the trail for winter access. Also, make sure to purchase your park pass ahead of time at the West or East gate of the park.

If you don’t have your own pair of snowshoes or poles, you can rent them at outfitters located outside of the park. Algonquin Outfitters offers adults and kids snowshoe rentals, as well as poles.

Interpretive Walking Trails

A great place to start your snowshoeing adventure at Algonquin Provincial Park is one of several interpretive walking trails. The Hemlock Bluff Trail (3.5 km, 2.2 mi loop), Bat Lake Trail (5.8 km, 3.6 mi loop), and Mizzy Lake Trail (10.8 km, 6.7 mi) are all moderate trails located in the plowed areas of the park. Each of these trails explores a specific aspect of the park and you can pick up trail guide booklets at the visitor’s center, open year-round. Check the events calendar for winter operating hours, as they may fluctuate.

Additional Snowshoeing Trails

Go snowshoeing on the Minnesing Wilderness Ski Trail, an ungroomed trail with 4 different loop options ranging from 6 to 32 km (3.7 to 20 mi). Alternatively, you can also explore the park’s vast network of portages, and the multi-use Old Railway trail, which follows the abandoned bed of the Ottawa, Arnprior, and Parry Sound Railway.

If backpacking overnight is your thing, check out the two longer overnight backpacking trails, Western Uplands Backpacking Trail and Highland Backpacking Trail. Each backpacking trail consists of loops ranging from 19 to 88 km (12-55 mi), respectively. The park plows the parking lots for both trails in winter. 

Read More: 7 Typical Backcountry Snowshoeing Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

fox in Algonquin Park

Gorgeous fox in Algonquin Park, Ontario. Photo: Shutterstock/Paul J. Hartley

Don’t Forget The Wildlife

For the animal lover, there’s plenty of wildlife to see at the park, including deer, moose, fox, and wolves. Though you might see more tracks than animals unless you’re an experienced watcher or it’s your lucky day. The park is also a popular bird-watching site. Several varieties of birds including ravens, chickadees, northern goshawks, purple finches, red crossbills, and Canadian Jays are frequently seen. Check out Algonquin’s birding report for the latest sightings and pictures and to learn more about the variety of birds found in the park.

The Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Opeongo Road, or visiting the observation deck at the visitor’s center are popular destinations for birdwatchers. You can also stop in the visitor center and strike up a friendly conversation with the knowledgeable park staff about bird and wildlife watching. They know all the best spots and even a few secrets I’m sure!

Read More: A New Found Passion: Wildlife Tracking & Identification

Winter Camping

Winter camping is permitted in Algonquin Provincial Park backcountry, which is accessible only by ski or snowshoe when the snow is deep. Just make sure you’re prepared prior to winter camping for the first time. Mew Lake Campground is open year-round with reservable campsites and sites open on a first-come-first-serve basis.

The campground also features seven yurts (tent-like structures with furniture and electric heat) available by reservation only. Plus, there’s a fully winterized comfort station, including laundry facilities on-site.

Electric hookups are available on most campsites. Furthermore, there’s even a skating rink with lights and a hot tent for the whole family to enjoy. Of little to no surprise, playing hockey is a favorite activity of many visitors that visit the campgrounds. This is Canada of course! The homes of the Maple Leafs and Senators are just a few hours away.

river in Algonquin Park, Ontario

Gorgeous river during a snowstorm at Algonquin Provincial Park. Photo: Shutterstock/ Saptashaw Chakraborty

Ensure you have more information about Mew Lake campground including the campground’s rules and regulations, nearby attractions, and a large map prior to visiting.

Visitors must have a valid permit to use the campground. Check for pricing and fees. With a valid permit, you can also winter camp in the park’s backcountry.

Read More: Tips & Tricks For Cold Weather Backpacking & Winter Camping

Getting To Algonquin Provincial Park

In the winter, the best access to Algonquin Park is along Highway 60 which travels across the park’s southwestern corner. Please prepare accordingly. There is very limited cell phone coverage in the area.

If you’re a regular visitor, you can also purchase a membership. Memberships are available for purchase through the park’s website. They have 4 different options that range from $15 – $25. Becoming a member offers you discounted rates at workshops, 15% off purchases at select park facilities, and updates on upcoming special events.

Go enjoy your time snowshoeing and exploring Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario! Please share your favorite trails in the comments below.

Read More: Snowshoe Friendly Nordic Center: Scenic Caves Nature Adventures, Ontario, Canada

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Maine Guide Snowshoes: The Real Deal https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/07/maine-guide-snowshoes-the-real-deal/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2020/02/07/maine-guide-snowshoes-the-real-deal/#respond Fri, 07 Feb 2020 16:57:05 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=94784 Companies with a real passion for their product can be hard to come by these days. However, recently, we connected with Maine Guide Snowshoes, and they are the real deal. Maine Guide Snowshoes not only has a passion for what … Continue reading

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Companies with a real passion for their product can be hard to come by these days. However, recently, we connected with Maine Guide Snowshoes, and they are the real deal. Maine Guide Snowshoes not only has a passion for what they do, but they make a tried and true product, all while giving back to the community.

Owned by Robert F. (Bob) & Andrea Howe, Maine Guide Snowshoes (MGS) is a company that takes pride in the craftsmanship of their ’shoes, all handmade in Maine. While other companies may be focused on aluminum or plastic frames, MGS is made of traditional white ash, and with good reason- they are the best. “After trying every conceivable frame over the last 25 years, I still believe white ash is the best”, says Bob Howe.

snowshoes overlooking mountains

Using Maine Guide Snowshoes from the Eastern Hillside at Beaver Creek, CO, which is a backcountry trail in winter. Photo courtesy of Judy Holmes.

About Maine Guide Snowshoes

Three things ring true of this family-owned Maine company and truly set it apart from others in the field: high-quality white ash, their dedication and service to the community, and their true love and commitment for the outdoors.

THE WHITE ASH CHOICE

Why white ash, you might ask, when there are less expensive aluminum models out there with bright colors and chic styles? In the frigid weather typical in Northern Maine, aluminum snowshoes tend to fail. If you are out in temperatures twenty degrees below zero F, your snowshoe can break within minutes and leave you stranded. Yes, aluminum snowshoes may be lightweight. However, they are not large enough to have holes for the snow to fall back through as you step. So, the user ends up shipping snow onboard their decking and bogging down.

Several years ago, Bob had a client come to hunt rabbits; he stopped and bought a pair of aluminum snowshoes on his way. He could have gone with a traditional pair of wooden shoes from Bob, but he thought he knew best. Five minutes out on the trail, and they broke before the price sticker was even off the product.

PINE GROVE PROGRAMS – FROM THE HEART

Though, the unique aspect of this Maine company is that its proceeds from snowshoe sales go to support the Pine Grove Program, which offers free outdoor adventures for active military service members, veterans, and other heroes, including Gold Star families and first responders. In 1998 the Howes bought Pine Grove Lodge & Cabins in Pleasant Ridge, ME, now a licensed 501c. 100% of the proceeds support their events for veterans.

Bob did not serve in the military himself, coming of age at the end of the Vietnam War. However, he felt a need to help in some way. His Dad and other mentors had served, so at age 20, Bob began taking local veterans out on snowshoes to hunt, fish, and do other activities. As Andrea mentioned, “Bob felt that this was what he could offer, and he would go to the local VFW and other places where military veterans hung out and ask “Hey, anybody want to go fishing?”.

snowshoe tracks at Beaver Creek, CO, tracks made by Maine Guide Snowshoes

Snowshoeing can be a great escape to witness the beauty of Mother Nature. Photo courtesy of Judy Holmes.

A current project through the Pine Grove Programs is a fundraiser for the Joseph Murphy Memorial Cabin. The cabin will be free to veterans and first responders to use “as a quiet respite from the stress they are enduring,” says Bob. Joe Murphy, whom the cabin is named after, tragically took his own life after military deployment. He loved fishing and hunting in Maine outdoors.

For readers interested in knowing more about the heroic mission and purpose of Pine Grove Programs, visit www.pinegroveprograms.org. You can donate directly on their website if you find meaning in all that MGS and Pine Grove do to make the lives of our active military and veterans better.

MAINE GUIDE SNOWSHOES GOING STRONG

Alongside the work they do in the community, Bob and Andrea’s love for their product and the true outdoors is evident. In a recent interview with Andrea, she said Bob was 18 years old when he got his license as a Maine Guide, a prestigious achievement. I’m a former Mainer myself, and I know this achievement is a big deal for outdoorsmen and women.

In Northern Maine, where the Howes family lives, snowshoes are a necessity for most people who are out and about in the outdoors. Hunters, loggers, snowmobilers, and adventurers need them. “If your snowmobile breaks down and you are five miles back in the words with bad weather conditions, you may not make it out alive without a pair,” warns Bob. “Mother Nature hasn’t changed much over the years. She is as brutal now as she ever was and can still kill you in the blink of an eye.”

When the Howes bought the lodge, most of their snowshoe business was local. Today, over twenty years later, Maine Guide Snowshoes is known for making its high-quality snowshoes for people who depend on them, like hunters, wardens, foresters, and sappers. Bob’s years of hunting and guiding in the woods back his product.

Read More: The Future of Traditional Snowshoes: We Value Our 6,000 Year Tradition

having fun on snowshoes at McCoy Park, Beaver Creek Mountain

Maine Guide Snowshoes can be used for fun, recreational snowshoeing too. Photo courtesy of Judy Holmes

The Maine Guide Product

We know the importance of white ash for colder climates, like Northern Maine. However, there are a few other aspects to consider when choosing your traditional snowshoe. Maine Guide Snowshoes offers an insider’s perspective.

FOUR STYLES AND HOW TO CHOOSE

Before heading out on a pair of traditional ‘shoes, you need to consider your body weight. Also, keep in mind the kind of snow you will be traveling on your outing. Hard packed snow can support more weight than the light, fluffy stuff. For people who need to be out there in all conditions, owning more than one pair of snowshoes is an excellent idea.

As any snowshoer knows, there are many styles for different conditions. However, the years of experience behind MGS have winnowed the product down to four basics, with a brand new addition to their line.

  • The ALASKAN shoe is for deep snow and maximum weight, 175-300 pounds (79-136 kg), with a significant upturn, so the wearer does not sink. It has a long tail for proper tracking and best for flat terrain.
  • The SPORTSMAN offers foot support with a maximum weight of 150-250 lbs. This model comes with a short tail that won’t get caught in trees and brush, your all-around condition choice.
  • MODIFIED BEARPAW is one of their original designs and a go-to for many snowshoers with a shorter, wider framer than the Sportsman or Alaskan.
  • The BEAVERTAIL, similar to the modified Bearpaw, is a rounded style with an upturn on the back of the snowshoe, providing for a low drag factor and maneuverability.
  • MGS’s newest offering is the RABBIT HUNTER, the first model with reverse! This one is great for backing up (not an easy task in most snowshoes). The Rabbit Hunter is also designed to lie flat on top of the snow, with little drag and increased floatation.

Read More: Traditional Wooden Snowshoes: Shapes, Designs, Names

Maine Guide Snowshoes

A special pair of racing snowshoes by Maine Guide Snowshoes. Photo courtesy of Judy Holmes.

THE TIES THAT BIND

After deciding to buy a pair of traditional wooden snowshoes, the next consideration is the ties, and then the harness, or binding. MGS offers three options for snowshoe ties.

Traditional RAWHIDE is a favorite among many veteran outdoorsmen and women. However, these ties require regular care with varnish to prevent damage from moisture and wear and tear. Not to mention that critters like mice in the barn will chew on them, so storing out of reach is essential. Native Americans used hide to lace snowshoes going back thousands of years, and they remain a classic piece of history. For those interested, you must special order rawhide laces.

Less expensive and easier to maintain is NEOPRENE, as they are rugged and water-resistant. Though, the price of neoprene laces fluctuates with the cost of oil.

ROPE is the third method that MGS uses for laces. Their rope is a specific double braided polyester that won’t stretch out. Plus, it’s UV resistant. It is the standard today on MG snowshoes. The rope ties come in different colors these days. Furthermore, these are the least expensive method of tying, while still being tough.

The harness, or binding, needs to be heavy-duty. Thus, the MGS product is a strong UVMH Polyethelene with big buckles, so they are easy to put on and remove. A critical aspect of the harness material is that your boot does not wiggle around while snowshoeing.

Read More: Traditional Snowshoe Bindings 101

Special Events, Special People

Combine the heart and soul of Maine Guide Snowshoes with their excellent product, and they have impacted thousands of individuals and snowshoeing enthusiasts.

In March of 2012, MGS and the Pine Grove Programs sponsored 14-year-old Mariya Gilliland of Eagle River, Alaska. Their support enabled her to compete in four snowshoe biathlon events at the Arctic Winter Games (celebrating 50 years in 2020) in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Mariya returned home with one gold, two silver, and a bronze medal! She earned these medals while wearing her specially designed MGS snowshoes.

snowshoe racing, Judy Holmes wearing Maine Guide Snowshoes

Judy using her Maine Guide Snowshoes while racing a 10k at Beaver Creek, part of the Beaver Creek Running Series. Photo courtesy of Judy Holmes.

Judy Holmes, age 65, currently lives in Montana. She started snowshoeing in 1976 while working at L. L. Bean in Freeport, Maine. Judy and co-workers would go out snowshoeing at night with headlamps on at local state parks. Growing up in nearby Portland, she loved all snow sports, from telemark skiing, snowboarding, and alpine and Nordic skiing. Having lived in ski areas the past 35 years, Judy said, “Snowshoeing was something I could do after the lifts closed.”

Her first competition was in Colorado, the 1990 Mountain Man Winter Triathlon. “I think it was 15 miles of cross-country skiing, both uphill and down Beaver Creek mountain, then 10 miles of snowshoeing up and down the mountain, followed by 20 miles of speed skating on Nottingham Pond in nearby Avon.”

Judy was racing on metal snowshoes with running shoes bolted to them. That is until about five years ago when a Maine Guide in the Moosehead Lake region told her about the Maine Guide Snowshoes. After visiting Bob and Andrea Howe, she never looked back. They built her several pairs of wooden snowshoes that are shorter and narrower than standard models. Her custom-designed ‘shoes also have grips on the bottom for uphill runs. They have worked great! For the next several years, Judy never came in lower than 3rd in a race in her age group. “In most of my races, I was the only one on wooden shoes.” And you can bet hundreds of participants noticed the snowshoes, especially with the red and purple lacing!

Judy Holmes with Maine Guide Snowshoes after 1st place win, Beaver Creek Running Series 2018

Judy celebrating a first-place win with her Maine Guide Snowshoes. Photo courtesy of Judy Holmes.

Maine Guide: The Real Deal

This small, family-owned business in northern Maine embodies what snowshoeing is all about: a love for snowshoes, the community, and the great outdoors.

Read More: Snowshoeing Destinations In Maine

Have you heard of or used Maine Guide Snowshoes? Let us know in the comments below!

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