Snowshoe Magazine https://www.snowshoemag.com The snowshoeing experience for snowshoers around the world: snowshoe racing, snowshoes, gear reviews, events, recreation, first-timers. Thu, 11 Jan 2018 22:44:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 28162661 Ascending Spiritual Mountains in Tottori, Japan https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/01/04/ascending-spiritual-mountains-in-tottori-japan/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/01/04/ascending-spiritual-mountains-in-tottori-japan/#comments Fri, 05 Jan 2018 04:00:13 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=90806 Discover a stunning world of remote mountains infused with thousands of years of Japanese spiritual beliefs when exploring barely-touristed Tottori Prefecture. The ancient shrines and temples, local myths, and hiking paths of Mt. Daisen and Mt. Mitoku revealed long forgotten … Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eclipsing the Excuse Tray: Wilderness Athlete’s Midnight Build https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/12/20/eclipsing-the-excuse-tray-wilderness-athletes-midnight-build/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/12/20/eclipsing-the-excuse-tray-wilderness-athletes-midnight-build/#respond Thu, 21 Dec 2017 03:02:49 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=90521 Toss your Excuse Tray like a high school kid flies a platter across the cafeteria. With Midnight Build (MB), open life’s window; you know, the one that seems shut to you. Here’s how.

Photo courtesy Sarah Eriksson, Sweden, http://bit.ly/2j8o5nS

Dylan … Continue reading

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

Photo courtesy Sarah Eriksson, Sweden, http://bit.ly/2j8o5nS

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

The first step to take?

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

Courtesy Anna Elizza runs with Fini, Seattle http://bit.ly/2zY6vuO

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

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

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

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

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

THE DIVINE NINE

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

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

Niacin

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

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

Courtesy Andrea Kladar races the Ironman, Canada http://bit.ly/2zkCo3L

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

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

Benefits include:

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

Where the Midnight portion of MB begins to manifest itself:

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

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

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

Courtesy Sarah Seads Vancouver Island, BC, Canada http://bit.ly/2AWicl8

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

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

Magnesium

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

Major functions include:

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

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

Courtesy Ella Magers, Miami, FL. http://bit.ly/2ziYKT1

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

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

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

Some benefits include:

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

Also:

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

WA athlete Kristy Titus hunts the backcountry.

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

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

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

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

Zinc

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

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

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

Courtesy Sarah Eriksson racing

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

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

Fenugreek

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flying snowshoes! Courtesy Anna Eliza

Benefits include:

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

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

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

Maca

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits include:

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

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

Courtesy Andrea Kladar, Canada

Beta-Alanine

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find these benefits:

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

L-Ornithine

L-Ornithine is also known as the urea cycle.

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

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

Courtesy Sarah Seads, VC

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

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

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

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

Payge McMahon WA Athlete hikes to an amazing view.

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

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

Arginine Pyroglutamate

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

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

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

Climber on Shivling peak background

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

Find these benefits:

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

Tongkat Ali Extract

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

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

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

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

Benefits include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Kildahl Ph.D  


 

Phillip Gary Smith contributed to portions of this article

 

 

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

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Snowshoe Gifts for Those who have Everything and Beyond https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/12/10/snowshoe-gifts-for-those-who-have-everything-and-beyond/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/12/10/snowshoe-gifts-for-those-who-have-everything-and-beyond/#respond Mon, 11 Dec 2017 00:27:04 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=90719 The odds remain high those on your shopping list who “have everything” don’t own snowshoes. Even if they do, discover here unique gift ideas that you may use to surprise even the most avid snowshoer.

Snowshoeing remains fun even in

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The odds remain high those on your shopping list who “have everything” don’t own snowshoes. Even if they do, discover here unique gift ideas that you may use to surprise even the most avid snowshoer.

Snowshoeing remains fun even in the USSSA National Championships Women’s Final as shown here in a Joe Viger Photography image.

As a sport, the SIA (Snowsports Industries America) estimates that 3.7 million Americans snowshoed in the past year. That reads like a crowded startline, but when compared to the U.S. population—2018 estimates approach 1/3 of a billion—the percentage of those who snowshoe just ticks over one percent. That inflates somewhat the number of those who actually own snowshoes because often those who snowshoe don’t own those foot rackets. Typically the appliances are available gratis to use at a race or for rent at the more advanced parks. Though such a large open market even a small increase in new snowshoe ownership sets off a banner year for the industry. Plus some of the top snowshoe racers come from states not considered in the snow belt; such as Arizona. The Grand Canyon State enjoys some of the best snowshoe races in the country.

A snowshoe event in Europe may attract 10,000 or more competitors

So, start a tsunami of snowshoes—or would that be an avalanche?—by gifting new snowshoes to those you know, no matter where they live. Here, find many unique gift ideas to help you on that mission.

MSR (Mountain Safety Research)

Coming out of the tumultuous 1960s, Mountain Safety Research (known as MSR see gifts) developed safer climbing equipment. Evolving, next came snowshoes since one has to get to the mountains in winter to climb them. With a strong engineering bent, the company specializes in innovative solutions with the idea that your gear shouldn’t put you at risk. So they “test to the Nth degree.”

Mike Milloning just out cruising single track trails with a buddy at the Murphy-Hanrehan Park, Savage, MN.

One chooses either their Evo or Lightning brands with the similarities of the two differentiated with the all-aluminum Lightning’s weight (slightly less) with more traction as “frames… are vertical all the way to the edge.” Better traction reduces energy expended, which means that you can go longer while enjoying it more. A little jaunt on a mild day is one thing, making way through a blizzard casts a whole different spin on things. Prepare for the challenges; the rest will take care of itself.

For women or men, look at their high-tech Revo Ascent Snowshoes. Offered in either a 22-inch or 25-inch variation, the longer model provides support for up to 280 pounds using the detachable tails. That extended length gives a handy option for more flotation. Sometimes one never knows how much snow will come out of the forecast “light dusting” until it’s over; an extra half-foot accumulation makes this option a lifesaver. On the trail, Revo Ascents converts the famous Mamas and Papas’ song “You gotta go where you want to go, do what you want to do” to more of a command to get out, explore, live, and not worry if you’ll make it. Additionally, MSR’s PosiLock All Terrain bindings promise security and foot control with four straps: one on the heel and three over-the-foot.

Women’s MSR Revo Ascent 22 Snowshoes

Although perfect for backcountry hiking, consider them for racing. The USSSA national championship events often present nasty climbs where such an advantage might just get you through where others struggle. Another way of saying that: the ability to go just about anywhere reduces the dread factor such as, “Yikes, I can’t make that hill!”  Plus if you own large boots, they have up to 18-inch straps available as an inexpensive option.

On the other end of the scale, MSR provides the Evo Trail Snowshoes that come ready to go, straps bindings and all, for a modest price. Plus, one can choose red, blue or mineral as colors to match a gift recipient’s favorite hue. Very light, these snowshoes offer a happy day on comfortable snow in the park.

Now, burn some of that energy out of the kids by considering MSR’s Tyker Snowshoes. These find their history from the company’s Denalis that morphed into the Evo Ascents, so these are not toys; they are real all-around snowshoes ready to take the hardest work a kid can give. Choose between red or gray. Preteens consider the Shift, promising “premium performance to young adventurers.” And where would you want their adventuring?  At the mall downing double cheeseburgers or on the beauty and joy of a snow-covered trail surrounded by pines and forests with healthy foods and fresh air? Rap on that for a few minutes. Then choose either the black or light blue versions.

Don’t stop there: MSR offers tents, stoves, cookware, portable backcountry water treatment, snow tools (like avalanche probes and shovels), luggage such as their duffel bag or my favorite the snowshoe bag. This logoed beauty protects your snowshoes, gives separate storage to those Modular Flotation Tails you want, provides a secure place for snow poles, and increases your look by a quantum leap.  You may not feel or trek like a pro, but you’ll look like one.

Nothing like a snowshoe trek with your Revo Ascents in a romantic wilderness

MSR’s Global Health initiative now provides a new water purifier for disaster relief plus much more. The company, utilizing a technology agnostic attitude (free to use any method, technology or design that will get the job done) says:

By using our technical ingenuity and our manufacturing expertise, we believe we can develop meaningful solutions that improve global health—and, in doing so, create true and lasting change.”

You get the feeling they have a World-Class team? They do. Check it out here.

REDFEATHER SNOWSHOES

Out of La Crosse, Wisconsin, a city known as a regional technology and medical hub, Redfeather Snowshoes allows one to buy an entire winter package–snowshoes, large tote, and 3-section fast lock poles–already set to go. Just add a bow. Their brand offers two separate styles: the HIKE, with a Western Roundtail rear, and the TREK for men and PACE for women both with a distinctive V-tail for deeper snows.

The women’s Pace Kit pictured with teal frame and white decking. The men’s uses an orange frame with black decking.

In 1988 the company brought out the first lightweight V-Tail snowshoe that helped move the sport into a new era. Years earlier I had learned to snowshoe on heavy wooden rackets that seemed more like lugging logs; the move to aluminum frames found a welcoming reception.

All of these offer a Live Action Hinge helping to lift the back of the shoe from snow each step of the way. Using Rip Stop Vinyl for the decks virtually ends the possibility of punctures along with offering abrasion resistance while staying flexible even in deep-cold temperatures.

For the PACE/TREK models, find three length choices for women and four for men (with the top supporting weight over 220 pounds). Women’s sport a teal frame with white decking while men’s stacks a Fall orange with black decking. Both enjoy vinyl shielded crampons to keep snow and winter debris off the shoes along with 6000 Series Aircraft Aluminum, a buzzword indicating the alloy displays the same composition as those used in aircraft.

The HIKE models differentiate strides for women and men. Hunter green for women, green for men, both rated as favorite recreational hikers for all trails with powder coated 6000 Series Aircraft Aluminum.

All use the company’s SV2 Bindings featuring a one-pull handle to adjust the feel to your desired setting.

Charging after the youngsters, Redfeather offers four distinct models:

The SNOWPAW for ages 3-7, shaped like a monster claw of sorts that leave fun prints in the snow. Maybe that’s from where abominable snowmen come? Offered at an entry $29.95 price point, choose between dark blue and green or light blue and pink.

FLASHTRAX fits the same age class as SNOWPAW but combines LED lights brightly entertaining with every step. Choose the same colors, too. Both are molded polypropylene.

The ELF models graduate to a “real” snowshoe for ages 5-9. A 17-inch Western Roundtail frames the snowshoe with the same Rip Stop Vinyl decking as the adult models. The Green frame with a black deck displays a playful ELF logo as does the Teal frame with white decking corresponding to the women’s PACE model. Find these models elfishly priced at $79.95.

Need a nap?
Snowshoeing burns more energy than most outdoor winter sports

Step up a notch on the Y2 with a snazzy logo and bootstrap screaming “Look at me, I’m different” on the white deck surrounded by an aluminum frame. The V-tail supports to 125 pounds constituting the first level in this category combining the SV2 Binding along with the Live Action Hinge, all for under $100.

Redfeather’s racing entry, the VAPOR, displays the same shoe used by their racing team. 21 inches long, the shoe supports 190 pounds. The design raises the V-tail to eliminate drag. The Hypalon II decking rates as their strongest yet lightest. Cross Country Bindings work well for running shoes or boots. Redfeather builds their crampon/talon system with Eagle 360 powder coatings providing further corrosion and chip resistance while extending the stainless steel’s life. The neon green shows off the design as one tough customer as it should for the company who was first to produce snowshoes for competition.

Snowshoe racing finds interest throughout the globe. This USSSA National Championship featured racers at the 2015 Eau Claire event (R to L) Katy Class (MN), Ann Heaslet (WI) and Ashley Evans of Paul Smiths College, pushing to the finish.

In addition to the poles and Redfeather tote, find other accessories like a large black mesh bag highlighted with an embroidered logo and room for snowshoes, extra clothing and more. Then there is the white Redfeather Snowshoes embroidered beanie as a nice $14.95 stocking stuffer.

FABER SNOWSHOES 

Then here comes the venerable FABER introducing their new slant on making way on snow: the Sliding Step Snowshoes. First, though, it is important to note the company will celebrate 150 years as a snowshoe company in 2020. Perhaps that is because of their Canadian roots in Quebec, QC; yes, their site naturally offers in French, too. Further, find a full range of vintage-yet-modern wooden snowshoes with classic, leisure and heavy-duty lacing choices.

Jay Punke racing and winning with wood snowshoes with his self-styled cleats in Wisconsin

Both standard and elongated woodies like the Bear Paw models show offerings along with Ojibwa, Sport, Montagny plus a popular racing model. Racing wooden snowshoes remain popular in Wisconsin at events such as the Stomp the Swamp Snowshoe Race near Wausau. Jay Punke nails times with wood that beats most wearing aluminum frames.

Offering their Wing Traction Decking (WTD) creates very light racers, i.e., the red framed, white decking Challenge just notching slightly more than two pounds. The Aerobic, attractive at $213 (US) works well for hard packed snow often found in metro races. A Sommet model, combining expedition needs and running, offers two sizes, 8 X 22 or 26 inches.

Conventional decking displays on their Mountain brands, all using aluminum frames. The Mountain Master, a high-end model, offers sizes from 8 X 24 to 10 X 36 for the real deep-snow expedition traveler that maxes out at 300 pounds. Features include advanced frames and suspension, aggressive crampons for the roughest of terrain, and materials that make the foot and heel plates comfortable with firm control.

Two choices of size of this favorite snowshoe for youngsters

The youngsters want the North Kid “designed for kids but with the same quality concerns as the adult models.” Two sizes make this a good family choice, with the 7X18 maxing out at 90 pounds, the 8X20, 125 pounds.

The company offers a useful guide for sizes depending on the type of trail you use. For example, the weight/sizes are based on packed snow as found in most city parks. If bushwhacking snow, cutting new paths, one needs more flotation, so reduce their “suggested” weights by about 25 percent. For example, the North Kid 8X20 rates to 125 pounds on packed snow trails. If use were primarily ungroomed or open trails, then the shoe would work best for one weighing a little under 100 pounds.

Then there are the Faber Hybrids, wooden frames with traditional decking, which work well in the warm snow that otherwise sticks to metal like bees on honey. But not to wood. Try traipsing 6.2 miles in a USSSA National Championship with an extra three or four pounds attached to your feet as I did in the 2006 race in Vermont to understand how that feels. It’s hard to forget.

A new way of snowshoeing!

Now, check out Faber’s remarkable Sliding Step Snowshoes. The idea reflects the need to glide when covering level ground while moving downhill somewhat like a ski; a hybrid if there ever was one. Climbing feels easier as traction wings act the role of crampons. Like a Cross Country skier, using poles helps the process. Three lengths and sizes offer enough choices depending on the total weight one expects to carry.

Get the kit version with a Faber bag, poles and multiple sets of baskets (including their suggested extra-wide ones). See Sliding Step Snowshoe video here.

In the accessories available, three offerings of cases get attention. Faber thinks of everything it seems, as one, the SB14, exposes the shoes to air so they’ll dry quicker. SB36 provides two shoulder straps: one for carrying to the vehicle, the other to wear the case as a backpack.

So maybe we at Snowshoe Magazine helped your holiday shopping with these ideas. Find these snowshoes and gifts at retail stores or online. Most importantly, get some. Let us know what you chose. We want to share in the fun you’re having when giving these terrific surprises.

Write: phillip@ultrasuperior.com

 follow Phillip on Twitter and FaceBook

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Unique Twists in Québec’s North American Snowshoe Championships https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/12/03/unique-twists-in-quebecs-north-american-snowshoe-championships/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/12/03/unique-twists-in-quebecs-north-american-snowshoe-championships/#respond Sun, 03 Dec 2017 22:29:16 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=89844 The world-famous Québec Winter Carnival hosted winter’s fastest growing sport, snowshoeing, as a part of its thundering program of parades, shows, sculptures, and fun. What a deal!

Bonhomme [“Fellow”] plays buck-a-roo on a bucking moose in the spirit of exuberant

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The world-famous Québec Winter Carnival hosted winter’s fastest growing sport, snowshoeing, as a part of its thundering program of parades, shows, sculptures, and fun. What a deal!

Bonhomme [“Fellow”] plays buck-a-roo on a bucking moose in the spirit of exuberant enjoyment of Canadian life (courtesy Frédéric Lavoie Photographe)

Raced under the auspices of the World Snowshoe Federation (WSSF), this inaugural edition of the North American Snowshoe Championships featured unique twists in competitive snowshoe racing such as a nighttime start.

And a hometown champion.

Lining up at 7 p.m., the two distances of 5 km and 10 km featured some of the top snowshoe athletes in the world. One notable participant includes the overall 10 km winner, Maxime Leboeuf from Québec, the 2016 World Snowshoe Federation Champion. He won in 41 minutes, 27 seconds [41:21].

Drawing a line in the snow! (photo courtesy Pentathlon des Neiges)

Canada’s own Celine Renaud from nearby Victoriaville, the most senior woman in this distance, captured the class gold in 44:10 and also nailed a top-five overall.

Only USA’s Tim Van Orden, fourth overall, and France’s Julien Naudin, sixth overall, interrupted Canada’s domination of the results.

Special note here for Alberta’s Wendy Ey who scored my newly invented “final finisher” award for her 1:21:49.  She did not finish last when one includes the race DNFs and those who entered but didn’t make a start.

In the 5 km loop Philippe Ouimet, Mont-Tremblant, nailed gold with his sizzling 26:04 finish. Rebecca Beaumont, Alma, scored the women’s class win in 28:21 yielding an impressive fifth overall. The top nine posted times under 30 minutes.

Beauty in the Plains of Abraham at night (photo courtesy ccbn-nbc.gc.ca)

For the Junior class, Ontario’s Sephira Ely won the girl’s gold with her 38:01 crossing. Quebec’s Alexis Denault-Lemaire scored the boy’s win and fourth overall in 28:01 while Emerik Synnett snagged silver in 34:09.

The only participant in the 70+ class for either distance, Helene Jutras of Victoriaville, raced her 5 km for an impressive 42:10 finish.

The tough cold enhanced by a bitter breeze quickly blew by, forgotten, as competitors generated their heated steam in this demanding sport. Spectators lining the meandering course enjoyed racer’s headlights passing in the night through the Plains of Abraham in the shadow of the wonderfully modern National Museum of Fine Arts.

An exciting but unusual sight: the start of a snowshoe race on Friday night (courtesy Pentathlon des Neiges)

Snowshoeing enjoyed three major championships scheduled in North America this winter. The World Snowshoe Federation Championships, held in Saranac Lake, New York, just a week before these North American Championships, fought a warm day in complete contrast to this race night. The next major occurs in Bend, Oregon, for the United States Snowshoe Championships March 24-26. With Mt. Bachelor sporting ten feet of snow, conditions look perfect for another stellar event.

Mark Elmore, Sports Director of the United States Snowshoe Association, said “The important inaugural North American Snowshoe Championship races provided exciting snowshoeing on its unique start falling on a Friday night. Though Canada dominated the entry list, France, and the USA enjoyed representation at this beautiful venue in the heart of historic Quebec City.”

Winter Carnival’s Royalty and Queen surround Bonhomme at the 2-17 North American Snowshoe Championships (photo courtesy Frédéric Lavoie Photographe)

Hillman’s top 10 lists for travelers ranks the world’s best carnivals. Sharing the honor with cities such as Rio, Trinidad, Venice and New Orléans, Quebec’s Winter Carnival rates a 9-of-10, the only festival with the word “winter” in its name. Combining a host of athletic competitions along with the week of festivities, Canada presents warmth that’s all about fun in the snow, cold and ice.

The 2018 North American Championships race in the USA. No site or date information available yet. Contact Mark Elmore, Sports Director of the United States Snowshoe Association, if you would like to host the event in your backyard.

Write Phillip Gary Smith Phillip@UltraSuperior.com

 

 

 

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A Winter Explorer’s Guide to the Best of Banff National Park https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/11/26/a-winter-explorers-guide-to-the-best-of-banff-national-park/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/11/26/a-winter-explorers-guide-to-the-best-of-banff-national-park/#comments Mon, 27 Nov 2017 00:37:21 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=90514 Want to see the best that Banff National Park has to offer in the winter months while getting off the beaten path away from resorts, crowded streets, and tourist sites? Check out these trails and destinations below – and don’t … Continue reading

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Want to see the best that Banff National Park has to offer in the winter months while getting off the beaten path away from resorts, crowded streets, and tourist sites? Check out these trails and destinations below – and don’t forget to pack the snowshoes because you just might need them to access your cabin for the night.

Snowshoeing across Ptarmigan Lake in backcountry Banff National Park

Destination One: Skoki Lodge, Backcountry Banff

Trip Motivation: Trek into a historic lodge dating back to 1931, spend the night, and witness the beauty of the Lake Louise area, far away from the resort and ski traffic.

You’ll begin your backcountry trip to Skoki Lodge by uploading the Lake Louise Ski Resort gondola and then downloading a chairlift on the backside of the ski hill, arriving at Temple Lodge and the nearby trailhead to the Skok Valleyi. From there, it is a 6.8 mile hike or ski to the Lodge on a well maintained, ski-doo packed, trail.

On your way to the lodge, you’ll climb up and over two remote passes and cross scenic Ptarmigan Lake, enjoying views that few tourists to Banff ever get to see.

At the lodge, you’ll be treated with gourmet meals (some of the best found at a backcountry lodge in the Canadian Rockies) and a private bedroom inside the main building. There are also three cabins on site for guests wanting to upgrade their accommodations.

For more information on Skoki Lodge, please read my previous story:  In Search of the Ultimate Backcountry Ski Lodge (on Snowshoes)

The hidden side of Lake Louise – Skoki Lodge in  the heart of backcountry Banff

Destination Two: Shadow Lake Lodge, Backcountry Banff 

Trip Motivation: Explore one of Banff’s most beautiful backcountry lakes, and spend the night in warmth and comfort without having to pitch a tent in the snow.

Shadow Lake Lodge is most easily accessed via the Red Earth Creek Trailhead, located 20 minutes west of the Town of Banff. Follow the trail for a 6.5 mile hike or ski on an old road that is easy to follow. From the end of the Red Earth Creek Trail, it is only 1.5 miles to Shadow Lake Lodge.

Shadow Lake Lodge, Backcountry Banff

Once you reach the Lodge, you’ll appreciate having snowshoes if you want to do any touring in the area towards Gibbon Pass or Ball Pass. And while you can complete the outing as a long day trip, it’s much more enjoyable to spend a night at the lodge, where you’ll receive decadent meals and comfortable accommodations in a private cabin.

For more information on Shadow Lake Lodge, please read my previous story:  My Quest to find the Most Beautiful Destination in Backcountry Banff

Shadow Lake, Banff National Park (a destination that even families can visit in an overnight trip)

Destination Three: Sunshine Meadows, Sunshine Village Resort

Trip Motivation: Snowshoe across the Continental Divide with views of Mount Assiniboine, Canada’s “Matterhorn,” in the distance. Discover why Sunshine Meadows has been rated “Canada’s best day hike,” and enjoy what I would consider to be “the most scenic guided snowshoe tour in the Canadian Rockies.”

Snowshoeing on top of the world at Sunshine Village Resort

While Sunshine Village may be most well known as a ski resort in the winter months, I’ve found it equally enjoyable to explore on snowshoes. Jump through fresh mounds of powder, hike across frozen Rock Isle Lake, and enjoy hot chocolate on a snowy island. You’ll then finish your tour with a gourmet cheese fondue experience back at the Village.

Powder + fondue, and I have a favorite winter tour in the Canadian Rockies!

To read about my Snowshoe and Fondue Tour at Sunshine Village, please read: Snowshoe and Ski Vacations for the Whole Family.

Snowshoeing across Rock Isle Lake, Sunshine Meadows

Destination Four: The Wild and Remote Icefields Parkway

Trip Motivation: Spend the night in a small cabin tucked away in the wilderness of Banff National Park, off a road so remote, you’ll be tempted to make snow angels in the middle of the highway. Walk out the door of your cabin and explore a magical snowy world that will have you looking for a talking snowman or ice princess around every corner.

The Icefields Parkway is one of the most beautiful drives in Canada and links the Village of Lake Louise in Banff National Park with the Town of Jasper in neighboring Jasper National Park. Most travelers enjoy the winter views along this highway from the windows of their car, but a true explorer will want to spend the night at one of the remote wilderness hostels tucked off in the trees along the Parkway.

Several cozy little wilderness hostels, run by Hosteling International, are so hidden, you’d never see them if it weren’t for a small sign on the side of the road (often buried in snow.)

Spend a couple of nights at the HI Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel on the Icefields Parkway

Top Winter Experiences on the Icefields Parkway:

– Exploring the secret ice falls and canyon across the highway from the HI Mosquito Creek Hostel.

– Hiking or skiing across Bow Lake to the far end (where you should turn around before you enter avalanche terrain)

– Hiking to the Peyto Lake Viewpoint from Bow Summit, the highest point on the Icefields Parkway

Off the Beaten Path at Mosquito Creek along the Icefields Parkway

– Hiking frozen Mistaya Canyon from nearby HI Rampart Creek Hostel

– Spending a couple of nights in your own private wilderness retreat at the HI Hilda Creek Hostel, one of the only wilderness hostels without a manager on site, and where you can rent out the entire hostel which sleeps 6 people. This is a true winter camping adventure and you’ll have to snowshoe to the hostel, located a short distance off the highway. From the hostel, we love hiking up to the moraines below the Hilda Glacier. (Avalanche awareness and training recommended)

– Hiking to the toe of the Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Icefields Centre, a short 5-minute drive from the Hilda Creek Hostel. (Some years you’ll even find an ice cave here.)

To read more about winter along the Icefields Parkway, read my previous story: Family Wilderness Getaways in Banff National Park.

Snowshoeing on the Icefields Parkway near the HI Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel

Destination Five: Lake Minnewanka, Banff’s longest lake

Trip Motivation: Lake Minnewanka is one of the most popular tourist destinations near the Town off Banff in summer with professional boat cruises running up and down the lake. Visit in winter for a more peaceful experience and enjoy hiking out across the 13-mile-long lake. (Time your visit just right and you might even be able to skate across the lake if it’s well frozen and snow free.)

Solitude can be hard to find in the Town of Banff (even in the middle of winter, the quiet season,) but fortunately a short 20-minute drive leads you away from the store lined streets and tourists. Drive out to nearby Lake Minnewanka, strap on your snowshoes, and go for a scenic hike across the lake, stopping to make at least a couple of snow angels in the middle of the lake.

For a loop hike, follow the summer lakeside trail for Stewart Canyon and then return across the lake once you reach the bridge. (assuming it’s well frozen.)

Snow Angels in the middle of Banff’s Lake Minnewanka

Bonus Destination: Johnston Canyon, Banff’s most popular hiking trail

Trip Motivation: This is a bonus destination because you definitely won’t be venturing off the beaten path, finding solitude, or avoiding tourists. However, you’ll still encounter less than a third of the traffic on this trail in winter than you would on a beautiful summer day. And, it is Banff’s most popular hiking trail for a reason!

Grab a pair of ice cleats or spikes for this trail and prepare to be inspired by two large frozen waterfalls along with multiple smaller ones (including a secret one if you venture off the official trail down to a cave near the Upper Falls.)

Not a bad place for the annual Christmas card photo –  Johnston Canyon at the secret waterfall below the Upper Falls

Johnston Canyon is the ultimate winter canyon hike in the Canadian Rockies. Follow the official hiking trail for 1.7 miles to reach the Upper Falls where you’ll most likely see ice climbers putting on a show. You’ll also pass by the Lower Falls (at the 0.7-mile mark) with a cave that you get to crawl through for a close-up view. You can also sneak down into the canyon shortly before the Upper Falls to find a secret set of waterfalls, accessible by a large sheet of ice.

You won’t need snowshoes for this trail but that you should have some ice cleats when the trail is slippery. Otherwise, be prepared to descend the trail on your bum for much of the way.

Looking down on the Lower Falls of Johnston Canyon with the cave you crawl through for best viewing

To read more on Johnston Canyon in winter, you can check out this previous family focused story I wrote:  Ice Caves and Frozen Waterfalls in Banff National Park.

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Richard Bolt: Cindy Brochman Memorial Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/09/30/richard-bolt-cindy-brochman-memorial-snowshoe-magazine-person-of-the-year/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/09/30/richard-bolt-cindy-brochman-memorial-snowshoe-magazine-person-of-the-year/#respond Sat, 30 Sep 2017 18:41:31 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=90272 One of the most productive athletes ever in the outdoor snow, trail, and mountain scene–Richard Bolt–wins the 2017 Cindy Brochman Memorial Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year honor.

Richard Bolt snowshoed to the top of Mt. Bachelor, Bend, OR. (photo

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One of the most productive athletes ever in the outdoor snow, trail, and mountain scene–Richard Bolt–wins the 2017 Cindy Brochman Memorial Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year honor.

Richard Bolt snowshoed to the top of Mt. Bachelor, Bend, OR. (photo courtesy Richard Bolt Collection)

His resumé reads like someone whose only rest occurs when just taking a break to enjoy a view from the trail. Otherwise, it’s go, go, go. Like a time crystal, Richard never seems to stop. Perpetual motion frames him as a perfect recipient of one of outdoors sport’s prestigious awards now with the 11th honoree starting its second decade.

Presented annually to a person reflecting the passion and drive for snowshoeing, fitness, and healthy living, the honor remembers the life of Cindy Brochman who became the first recipient of this award in 2007. Naming the award in her honor seemed so natural. See her history HERE.

Racing to the Mt. Hood finish at the 2009 PowerSox USSSA National Championships with some of the deepest snow conditions ever for this race. (photo Eric Willis)

Finding Richard at any moment requires super energy. With a past leading from Rochester, NY, Nashua and Manchester, NH, then west to Portland, OR, and now Mountain View, CA, Bolt doesn’t just look at the mountains. He lionizes them.

2016 U.S. Men’s National Master’s Snowshoe Team: (L) Richard Bolt with Jason Bond (WI) Not shown: Ross McMahan (NV) (photo courtesy Skye Marthaler & Associates)

In the midst of the technology oligopoly where many famous companies found their beginnings, his search engine finds trails, mountains, and activity to support and encourage lifestyles where “active” seems way-too-understated.

Find Waldo? That’s a cinch compared to Bolt’s super vitality. Perhaps manic drive best describes his vigor.

Racing the 2014 USSSA National Championships in Woodford, VT. (Courtesy Richard Bolt Collection)

In 1988, he earned New York’s High School Cross Country Running State Championship along with the U.S. Junior Men’s Cross Country Skiing Championship. He had to rank as a prize prom date after those first credentials.

Back to the time at St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY, he earned NCAA All-American Cross Country Skiing honors, twice winning NCAA’s skiing-only conference Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Championship. He made time to study geography and environmental issues graduating with the 1992 Senior Scholar-Athlete Award, which annually honors one male and one female. Joe Keniston, Director of Laurentian Engagement, explained “(The recognition) takes into account academic and athletic accomplishments during their careers at St. Lawrence. Richard was a model student-athlete at St. Lawrence, as he excelled both in and out of the classroom.  To no surprise, his athletic prowess remains strong at this stage in his life, and all of us on campus are proud of him and thank him for representing the Scarlet and Brown with class and drive.”

Embodying a creative knack, he led the current craze of electronic music by a quarter-century teaching composition for two years post-graduation.

Readying for a high school cross-country event. This is the last known photo where Richard sits still. (photo Richard Bolt Collection)

Richard competed at the professional level of cross-country skiing in the 1990s. He raced that sport’s U.S. Olympic trials for 1992, 1994 and 1998 enduring “the high pressure I put on myself trying to make Olympic teams.” He was a member of the 1997 World Duathlon Team where a running leg and a cycling leg end with another running distance.

Next came passions that drive him yet today: in 1999 he made the U.S. World Mountain Trophy Running Team where he finished third along with another bronze result at the Challenge Stellina, Italy, leading to a constant presence in that sport. Completing all three of the 2002 selection races, placing sixth at the Wolverine Mountain Run, ninth at Mt Washington, and eleventh at the Vail Hill Climb, confirmed his enthusiasm for the sport. He wrote “I was looking for a new racing challenge that didn’t require as much gear, travel or snow (as skiing). Most runners hate hills, but these races were all hills complete with a rewarding view at the finish.”

Then in 2002, an attraction to snowshoe racing found expression at the United States Snowshoe Association’s (USSSA) National Championships, Traverse City, MI, where Richard earned his first slot on the National Team by winning the overall bronze medal. Winning the 2003 Western Mass Athletic Club’s (WMAC) Snowshoe Series Richard also nailed a consecutive win streak of four races. His second National Team came in Vermont’s 2006 race (fourth overall). A Masters National Team membership came later at 2016’s competition in Ogden, UT.  More than half of the 17 USSSA Nationals thus far found him racing or directing the events.

His second National Team came in Vermont’s 2006 race (fourth overall). A Masters National Team membership came later at 2016’s competition in Ogden, UT. More than half of the 17 USSSA Nationals thus far found him racing or directing the events.

Richard racing the 8th Garin Park 5 km XC Challenge September 2012, Hayward, CA

He filled the role of co-race director at USSSA’s 2013 Bend, OR, races along with the 2017 edition also in Bend, the first time the sport has returned to the same address. If you have ever competed on one of his course layouts, you may think Richard a masochistic race director delighting in the misery of others. Instead, he just likes to put forth challenges for athletes, himself in the lead pack. He added a steep climb in the most recent nationals that elicited reviews like medalist Kris Borchardt: “Mount Bachelor’s National Championship 10 km race was the ‘anti-Kris’ course: a very hilly event, soft powder at 6500 ft that included 1300 ft of climbing a slanted incline so steep… ,” so steep entrants got to enjoy the loop twice.

Mark Elmore, Sports Director of the USSSA, said “Richard has been a long time USSSA member, National level competitor, three-time US National Snowshoe Team member and advocate for the sport. His history of outstanding finishes at the annual US National Snowshoe Championships reflect his dedication to the sport and his talent.”

Richard’s interest in high-speed trains: A 300-mph UK train might be fast enough for him. (photo Reuters)

Richard added cycling and mountain running to his bag-of-tricks. Involved since 2003, he notes “As team leader for the US Mountain Running Team I work with other volunteer staff members to determine selection races and lead the team at the World Mountain Running Championships each September. The team is sanctioned by USA Track & Field (USATF) and funded through the ATRA.” Since 2013 he fills the role of Director of Online Marketing for the American Trail Running Association (ATRA).

In California, as he explained on LinkedIn: “I’m an experienced software operation, marketing, and client service professional.” On his profile, Richard lists social media, event management, cross functional teams, customer service, sales force, and project management as skills.

photo courtesy American Trail Association

Along with Mountain/Ultra/Trail (MUT) Council member Nancy Hobbs—also Executive Director of the ATRA—Bolt and Elmore explore a possible merger of the USSSA with the MUT as the governing body. Elmore said, “Richard has long been involved in the mountain and trail running community and one of the leaders in the USATF’s MUT Council. After he co-directed the 2013 US National Snowshoe Championships in Bend, I asked him what he thought of the idea of merging the USSSA’s National Championship Program into the MUT.

I saw this as a natural fit, a sensible evolution of the USSSA and the MUT, as the sport of snowshoeing is largely mountain and trail running but during the winter season. He agreed. Together with Nancy Hobbs, also an avid snowshoer, we began discussions to see how this might take place. These proceedings continue.”

Courtesy F1

Other interests Richard lists include “espresso, craft beer, photography, kayaking, Formula 1, World Rally Championship, high-speed trains, the Alps, and almost anything with a turbocharger.”

On Richard receiving this award, Adam Chase wrote: “Richard is a very deserving recipient. With his background in Nordic skiing and running, he made an easy transition to snowshoes and has been a successful and a wonderful ambassador for Atlas Snow-Shoe Company. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Richard through the American Trail Running Association, Atlas Snow-Shoe Company, and Salomon and to witness his devotion, enthusiasm, work ethic and sense of responsibility to doing what he does well and thoroughly. He also has a delightful sense of humor that lightens the mood.”

On the Alps’ Mont Blanc, this mountain goat seems to ask, “Where’s Richard?”

Nancy Hobbs said, “Richard is a fantastic choice as the 2017 Cindy Brochman Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year. He is tireless in his commitment and support of all things trail, mountain, and snowshoe running. His impact on the sport is evidenced through his dedication as a team leader for many USA national squads. Work as a course and race director, his ambassadorship for brands like Atlas-Snowshoe, Salomon, Suunto, and his contributions as a committee member on USATF’s Mountain Ultra Trail Council, and the International Trail Running Association. Furthermore, Richard’s work as the American Trail Running Association’s Director of Online Marketing has been instrumental in elevating the organization’s profile.”

For an article dated January 2015 that Richard wrote for Google’s Glass Journal comes a glimpse of his active life. “Today I’m still an avid trail runner—traveling fast and light—exploring the world beyond paved roads while staying connected and sharing my experiences from the trail. In the past 12 months, Glass has been my exploration companion while trail running across the United States and around the globe. I’ve run mountain trails in eight US states, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Canada, Mexico and captured them all through Glass. While I often run alone or in small groups, Glass keeps me connected with my once elusive and now larger community of trail runners. Now they see what I see and trace my route from afar.”

contact phillip@ultrasuperior.com

 

 

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Snowshoeing along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/09/26/snowshoeing-along-the-ice-age-national-scenic-trail/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/09/26/snowshoeing-along-the-ice-age-national-scenic-trail/#comments Wed, 27 Sep 2017 00:13:38 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=89461 What was the northernmost part of our country like a million plus years ago during the Ice Age? Well, mega ice sheets covered the landscape and a third of earth’s land was impacted. But, let’s look at Wisconsin specifically, for … Continue reading

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What was the northernmost part of our country like a million plus years ago during the Ice Age? Well, mega ice sheets covered the landscape and a third of earth’s land was impacted. But, let’s look at Wisconsin specifically, for example (obviously not a state back then).

About 10,000 years ago, the Ice Age slowly ended. The Wisconsin Glaciation took place around that time, leaving Wisconsin with a unique landscape of hills and depressions, gorges and dells, marshes and bogs, glacial carved streams and lakes. There is also remnants of rocks and boulders left from moraines, Eskers, drumlins and Kames. This almost sounds like a Dr. Seuss limerick. However, the later are melt-water debris that piled into particular land forms. That is according to geologists and information I found in the “Ice Age Trail Companion Guide.”

The Ice Age Trail Is Born

In 1958, the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation (now the Ice Age Trail Alliance as of 2009) was created, resulting in formation of Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail (IAT). The IAT follows the path of the ice age glacial activity, with over a thousand miles of trail running through 31 Wisconsin counties. It is from the Door Peninsula at Green Bay and Lake Michigan to the Saint Croix River near the Minnesota border.

The IAT is formally the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, given that it is one of only 11 National Scenic and Historic Trails. It was established as such in 1980 during the Carter Administration. And, considering the IAT is entirely within Wisconsin, it is also one of 42 Wisconsin State Trails and the only one designated specifically as a “State Scenic Trail,” according to the WI Department of Natural Resources.

According to the IAT Alliance website (www.iceagetrail.org), “more than one million people use the Ice Age Trail each year to hike and snowshoe, to backpack, to disconnect and reconnect.” In addition to snowshoeing, some sections of the trail are also open for cross-country skiing. And a few sections that correspond with a state rail trail allows bicycling. A location I know of on a shared trail in Central Wisconsin allows snowmobiling. However, the IAT does not allow ATV’s or other motorized vehicles.

This curved triangle can be found at trailheads and on other signage. Yellow blazes mark IAT trail routes.

Approximately 600 miles of the 1,200 mile trail is complete and the connecting routes link the unfinished segments. All of these passes through city, county and state parks, government forests and private lands. Interestingly, the trail do not only meanders through ever changing landscapes including forests, prairies and farmland, but on occasion will take hikers into villages, towns and cities. As the Alliance states on their website “this is by design – the Ice Age Trail is meant to connect people and communities.”

Ongoing work for more completion of the trail continues as the land is purchased with donation funds and government grants. The trail is managed by a partnership that includes the Ice Age Trail Alliance, The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the National Park Service. But the muscle behind the building, maintenance and upkeep of the trail is done mostly by volunteers.

Some Segments To Snowshoe

The 1,200-mile IAT is divided into numerous segments. The intent in winter is not to try and snowshoeing across the IAT. There are specific areas with easy access trail heads that is available for short hikes. The IAT itself does not have short circular routes, so visitors would either select a specific location to snowshoe, or find a segment that coincides with other trails that may provide a circular route. To secure trail and segment information and maps, go to the IAT website at www.iceagetrail.org/trail-maps-guidebooks. Also, to follow the few segment descriptions and locations I mention below, click on this link and you will find a more detailed map of Wisconsin and the IAT.

I started at the eastern end in Potawatomi State Park just off Green Bay in the Door Peninsula. There are 2.8 miles of the IAT that runs through the park, with a large part of the trail running parallel to Sturgeon Bay. Magnificent views of the bay and limestone cliffs can be seen along the way. From the park, the IAT heads out across the peninsula and then south. It runs parallel to Lake Michigan until eventually reaching heavily populated communities just west of Milwaukee.

Visitors to the Milwaukee area can head out to the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit or Southern Unit and strap on their snowshoes. There are roughly 31 miles of IAT to explore in the Northern Unit and another 30 miles in the Southern Unit. Both units offer varying glacial remnant terrain, such has hiked across a high rolling ridge of an Esker and looking down into a glacial lake.

From there, the IAT travels west and then takes a turn northward, continuing past the far west edge of the Madison area of Wisconsin’s State Capitol. The 3.1-mile Madison Segment crosses the University Ridge Golf Course and a Dane County Parks prairie.

The IAT trail can be accessed at the popular Devil’s Lake State Park when coming from the north, where it offers majestic views of massive boulders and rock formations sitting high above 500-foot quartzite bluffs and overlooking a 360-acre glacier-carved lake. The Devil’s Lake Segment passes along the east bluff giving it a much closer look. The IAT website states “this I arguably the most dramatic Ice Age Trail segment of all.”

Snowshoeing at Devil’s Lake offers views of a frozen glacial lake below

Just north of Devils Lake, the trail segment splits into east and west branches. The west branch passes through the Dells of the Wisconsin River and Roche a Cri State Park both with high bluffs, and then rejoins the east trail not far from Interstate-39.

The IAT continues north through several Wisconsin counties, delving into woodlands and agricultural areas, which passes through the small kettle lakes and streams. East of Wausau is a wonderful stretch at the Eau Claire Dells Segment along the Eau Claire River. At the Dells of the Eau Claire County Park is a magnificent gorge with a waterfall flowing down into rock pools of churning water. Mylonite bedrock bluffs that line the pools and rivers are found to be about 1.8 billion years old.

Scenic Eau Claire Dells gives witness to a miracle of the glacier

From there, the trail goes northeast into the next county before taking a sharp turn on the long stretch westward. In Lincoln County, you pass through the Harrison Hills Segment to find the trail’s highest elevation of 1,875 feet above sea level on Lookout Mountain.

Continuing west, the IAT eventually passes through an area of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The Jerry Lake Segment lies in the national forest. Along that segment the IAT forms part of a circular trail as it joins with the Chippewa Lobe Interpretive Loop. This loop offers a challenging day hike through a scenic remote area called the Ice Age Primitive Area.

The IAT then takes a turn northwesterly and comes upon the Hemlock Creek Segment before eventually reaching its most western location. This segment offers an enjoyable loop around Hemlock Creek and over a scenic footbridge.

This author snowshoeing a scenic segment of the IAT

Snowshoers crossing a footbridge along the Hemlock Creek Segment

The final segment traverses west through farmlands and takes a southwest scenic dip to the end of the trail at Interstate State Park (Wisconsin’s first state park) on the St. Croix River that passes through glacial potholes and rock lookouts. The IAT Companion Guide states that “the western terminus marker is affixed to a large glacial erratic on a basalt cliff overlooking the 100-foot-deep gorge of the Dalles of the St. Croix River.”

These are just a few of many IAT segments that I found of interest. Visit the Alliance website for further trail segment information, or purchase a Guidebook, or Atlas online at www.iceagetrail.org/store.

Wisconsin map with IAT in red – with permission from the Ice Age Trail Alliance

By Jim Joque

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Snowshoeing is Proliferating at Alpine Ski Areas https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/09/10/snowshoeing-is-proliferating-at-alpine-ski-areas/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/09/10/snowshoeing-is-proliferating-at-alpine-ski-areas/#respond Sun, 10 Sep 2017 21:05:52 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=89213 Not everyone who visits a ski resort wants to or is able to ski or snowboard, so resorts offer other activities. Among those options, guests can explore and enjoy the outdoors on snowshoes. These snowshoe outings at ski resorts range … Continue reading

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Not everyone who visits a ski resort wants to or is able to ski or snowboard, so resorts offer other activities. Among those options, guests can explore and enjoy the outdoors on snowshoes. These snowshoe outings at ski resorts range from guided naturalist tours to nearby destinations to athletic fitness treks reaching the top of the mountain. Snowshoeing options at ski resorts are booming and becoming ever more creative.

Smuggler’s Notch Resort known as a prime Vermont family destination has one of the most comprehensive mixes of snowshoe programs available. There are snowshoe treks for families with young kids, and outings for adults or families with older kids, who want a bit more in terms of the length of the trek, the topography covered, and the insights shared about the natural world and outdoor skills.

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Smuggler’s Notch Resort snowshoeing with dad and kids

Programs are scheduled for specific days and times at different prices for adult and children. Special family snowshoe programs that are easy include the S’mores Snowshoe Tour, which is a guided snowshoe trek on Wednesday’s 6-7:30 PM through the woods to a rustic pavilion and bonfire.

The Sugar On Snow Snowshoe Trek is where you learn a bit about the history and process of Maple Sugaring. Upon your return to Smuggler’s Nordic Center, enjoy a sweet treat of Sugar on Snow, a Vermont tradition. On Tuesday evenings, Smuggler’s Notch hosts a dramatic dining feature atop Sterling Mountain for adults, who ride the Sterling lift to a mountain cabin lit only by candles. There’s a gourmet meal served with appetizer, salad, choice of main course, and dessert. After dinner, those calories can be burned off with a 40-minute snowshoe down to the Base Lodge.

Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, Colo. has a variety of snowshoe tours via the Strawberry Park Express chair lift. There are guided naturalist snowshoe tours for two hours that include the gear and a map at $175 for two people. The group tours are $73 per person. On certain days the 3-hour Fit Tour is available and there’s also the Wine Excursion Snowshoe Tour. On Fridays, there’s the Fondue & Snowshoe Tour and on Wednesdays the Women’s Walk and Wine is offered. The Family Tour is 4-5:30 with a guide, hot cocoa and snacks. The private guided snowshoe tours include the two-hour outing at $285, the half day at $395, and the All Day Snowshoe Tour is $600. Following each tour, the Osprey Fireside Grill welcomes guests into its slope-side, mountain-modern elegance – where Executive Chef Conor Shedor presents decedent culinary and wine pairings befitting of a post-snowshoe hike. Click for a link to Beaver Creek Resort.

At Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, Mich., there are daily guided snowshoe tours and evening moonlight snowshoe tours. One of the popular treks is to the Michigan Legacy Art Park, which is a 30-acre preserve on 1.6 miles of hiking trails within Crystal Mountain. The Art Park features over 40 sculptures (20 in the winter), poetry stones, an outdoor amphitheatre (open in the summer). Another snowshoe option is the two-hour tour taking a scenic ride up the Gold Hills chairlift where snowshoers on the tour trek through the majestic alpine forest into the Bullion Basin area. On the tour there’s a rest stop to take in the beautiful views and fuel up with some snacks and water before making the way down the gentle slopes to the base area for a family-style dinner at the base lodge. Click for a link to Crystal Mountain.

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Crystal Mountain snowshoeing with mom and child

 

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Crystal Mountain snowshoeing with dad and child

Stop by the Base Camp at Big Sky Resort in Montana for snowshoe adventures. They have a 2-hour snowshoe tour on the Moose Tracks Trail for up to 10 people at a time led by two local women guides. There are designated trails for snowshoers to go out on their own, but they are asked to pay a $5 trail pass. Click for the resort website video about the guided snowshoe tours that are available at $50 for guests aged 12 or older at Big Sky Resort .

Back in Vermont, a resort that presents a different option is Mount Snow where snowshoe tours are available via the Grand Summit Hotel lodge’s NatureSpa. There are planned and marked trail routes at the ski area and the unique “Guided Snowshoe Tour & Massage,” that includes (for $185) a guided snowshoe tour followed by a sorely kneaded massage after returning to the spa. Trail loops can take an hour or two and snowshoes are available to rent. Click for a link to the NatureSpa.

Guided snowshoe tours take about an hour for $45 per person including the snowshoes, poles and a group guide. There are also private tours available and outings offered to people who are more athletic and looking for a fitness workout on snowshoes or an environmental tour with a local Vermonter talking about animal tracks or local geography. Trail maps for snowshoers are available at Mount Snow Sports, where snowshoe rental equipment and a trail pass can be acquired. The trail pass is $10 per day and rentals are $25 per day or $15 per afternoon.

It was necessary this year for some of the Smuggler’s Notch snowshoe treks to be on the alpine slopes due to low snow in the valley. Snowshoers used the lifts to access a high elevation tour and a backcountry tour. The Smuggler’s Nordic Director commented, “When the skiers saw the people snowshoeing on the slopesides, they wanted to get out of their skis to come and try it.”

http://www.crystalmountain.com/

http://www.beavercreek.com/ski-and-snowboard-school/nordic-center.aspx#/Overview

http://bigskyresort.com/things-to-do/activities/snowshoe-tours

http://www.mountsnow.com/the-mountain/nature-spa/guided-treks/

Credits:

Roger Lohr
rblohr@comcast.net

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Dock Street Tacoma, a Steel Cone and a Whole Lot of Glass https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/09/03/dock-street-tacoma-a-steel-cone-and-a-whole-lot-of-glass/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/09/03/dock-street-tacoma-a-steel-cone-and-a-whole-lot-of-glass/#respond Mon, 04 Sep 2017 01:39:57 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=88515

Dock Street, the home of Tacoma’s glass museum. Topped with a distinctive steel cone, it’s been open since 2002 and has been the focus for the Pacific Northwest Studio Glass Movement. It has also become the only American museum exhibiting … Continue reading

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Dock Street, the home of Tacoma’s glass museum. Topped with a distinctive steel cone, it’s been open since 2002 and has been the focus for the Pacific Northwest Studio Glass Movement. It has also become the only American museum exhibiting glass in a contemporary art form.

As such, it takes its place alongside three other glass museums Worldwide. But the amazing exhibits are not just reserved for its impressive interior. As part of the Museums Permanent Collection of 20th and 21st century artistic glass, Fluent Steps by Martin Blank, spans the entire length of one of the external plazas. This visually stunning, fluid structure gives the visitor a powerful hint of further remarkable glass art forms within.

Right from the start, the whole concept of this magnificent building strikes you as something totally different. And that even begins with your admission ticket. After purchase, the sticker on the end of the ticket (date stamped) is removed and applied to your clothing. Retaining your ticket and keeping the sticker visible, enables you to be re-admitted on the same day. Rather clever.

Once you’re in, why not make straight for the World’s biggest Hot Shop Amphitheatre inside the giant cone. This is the only internal part of the museum where photography is welcomed. And it is well worth taking advantage of.

It’s here you’ll be able to witness the incredible art of glass making from its raw, molten beginnings to finished article. Not to mention the occasional frustrating events in between, as the artists push their medium to its limits, in pursuit of their finished, fragile works of art.

This, coupled with an expert, on-hand narrator, for any questions and “live” video screen showing close-ups, makes for a visually entertaining afternoon.

On the day of our visit, the teams’ project involved a set of glass shells for a complete drum kit. Witnessing this whole, seemingly impossible process from start to finish, and the meticulous care and patience displayed by the team was an inspiration for all.

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After the Hot Shop, the next logical stop is the Glass Galleries. Within is a stunning collection from World renowned artists, and subtle lighting and quiet background sound effects, makes it a memorable audio-visual experience.

The Studio also enables the visitor to be creative on their own. With the help of volunteers, who will ensure the right materials are at hand, you can release any dormant artistic talents. All you need is a little inspiration to get started and age is not a barrier.

Depending on the time of your visit, the pangs of hunger could well take hold. If so, visit Gallucci’s Glass Cafe.

The varied menu caters for all tastes with weekly specials including soups, desserts and tamales  – all homemade. If you visit the museum on a Friday, order a boxed lunch and take it with you to watch an artist being creative in the Hot Shop.

While taking in the inspiring glass displays, why not treat yourself to a lasting memento from the Museum Store. Leading artists’ work from the Northwest and Worldwide is readily available. Educational and books about glass making, artists, and art in general as well as jewelry and wearable glass art are all supplied from a huge range.

For those keen on a little exercise, the museum offers Chihuly Walking Tours. This is the ultimate way to take in Dale Chihuly’s public art forms across downtown Tacoma. The walks leave at 2pm from the museum front desk. From $10 – $25, which includes museum entry, the price is great value for money.

Of particular note is the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. This 500 ft. pedestrian overpass links the museum with downtown Tacoma via a tunnel of light and brilliant, vivid colour.

The bridge was designed by Arthur Andersson, architect of the Washington State History Museum, in close collaboration with Dale Chihuly. Thus enabling the artist to contribute a very public display of his World renowned talent to his hometown. For more information on this please go to www.chihuly.com/bridgeofglass and for further information on the museum: info@museumofglass.org.

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Transcending Happenstance: The True Tale of Myra Klettke https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/08/22/transcending-happenstance-the-true-tale-of-myra-klettke/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2017/08/22/transcending-happenstance-the-true-tale-of-myra-klettke/#comments Wed, 23 Aug 2017 01:52:57 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=90173 Not now, I’m falling, not now, find pedals, never this, weird, handlebars, stop, the group, there’s sky…

Moments after the hit. (Myra Klettke Collection)

In an instant, Myra Klettke smacks the pavement hard, flesh red and bleeding among random pebbles … Continue reading

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Not now, I’m falling, not now, find pedals, never this, weird, handlebars, stop, the group, there’s sky…

Moments after the hit. (Myra Klettke Collection)

In an instant, Myra Klettke smacks the pavement hard, flesh red and bleeding among random pebbles scattered like her body. The time, 5:10 p.m., seems inconsequential except for a moment earlier, this collision into her by a car had not happened.

Myra, employed by Nike Inc. since 1996, works in Sports Marketing with elite-sponsored Nike Track and Field athletes along with Nike-sponsored colleges and federations. “I host Nike hospitalities for track and field events throughout the year at Track and Field Championships. In October 1995 I ran the Portland Marathon winning silver with a time of 2:49.07. This qualified me to compete in the 1996 Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in Columbia, South Carolina.” That race on February 10 hosted 187 qualifiers with 160 toeing the line, 129 finishing. Her time of 2:52:36 authenticated the Portland’s time.

“Apparently I was recognized as a good local runner on the Nike campus, which got me the job in Sports Marketing.”

Tuesday Afternoon

Myra pedals her brand new bike, a Trek Silque SLR 7 Di2 54 Purple Lotus. Just picked the ride up Monday. Its first real trip now wheels toward the weekly jaunt with the Wheelman Cycling Group.

The 2017 Trek Silque bike new

Jessica Strange at Total Women’s Cycling tested the Silque in December 2016. “We finally managed to get our hands on (Trek’s) greatly anticipated women’s road bike, the Silque. The Silque is the only bike in Trek’s entire fleet which is totally women’s specific, everything from the frame geometry to the finished bike build has the female cyclist in mind. It’s very light… at just 7.5kg/16.5lbs. The brilliant purple and cyan bike color-way has a wonderful metallic finish, which really makes the bike sparkle in the sunlight.” About $6,000, this Trek fits the real deal class of road bikes.

Tuesday counted as another beautiful day at Myra’s Lake Oswego home in the southern suburbs of Portland. Ranked in the Top 10 of Best Places to Live in Oregon, Lake Oswego features its idyllic setting, strong cultural roots, a nationally ranked library, plus a top school system. The sun occasionally hid behind a few passing clouds this day, dropping light sprinkles randomly, none now though, just a small west wind, the summer heat registering in the low 80° Fahrenheit range. From April to September, Myra faithfully bikes to this event about the same route weekly through neighboring Tualatin, so surroundings and layout are familiar. The group expected her there since she carries a perfect attendance record.

As Myra rode in this direction, the car to her left blocked visibility from the car turning left just in front of her. (Myra Klettke Collection)

Making way in the bike lane with the flow of Boones Ferry Road traffic, she was just three minutes from the meeting area. The congestion reported by three others biking to the meeting seemed “unusually heavy with stopped cars lined up.” A blue car traveling in the opposite lane moved to the center turn lane just after crossing the railroad tracks, signaling to turn left.

Another vehicle (a black car) that passed Myra’s failed to register her presence. A bit further, that black car stopped before the railroad. Then ever so friendly like waves the turning car on indicating “It’s alright, go ahead, steer in front of me” to a parking lot.

The point of view for the driver who hit Myra. Imagine the oncoming lane full of traffic and the black car, just over RR tracks, in the turn lane for the business complex.

A concrete platform (see above) divides the egress of traffic in-or-out of the center’s parking area. Southbound traffic bears right to enter. When exiting parking, the divider allows a vehicle to merge with the southbound flow or cross in front of oncoming traffic to the center lane.

Oblivious to Myra coming alongside, the turning car accelerates straight into the bike lane striking her hard, sending rider and the Silque up-and-over slamming down to the pavement. “I remember lying on the ground and not being able to move. I remember my left cheek and left leg hurting a lot.”

Someone bring a blanket to offset the chills of shock. (Myra Klettke collection)

Traveling on SW Lower Boones Ferry Rd, then turning left southbound on Boones Ferry Rd, the accident occurred 600 ft further at the 18000 block of SW Boones Ferry Rd (zip code 97224) at the Tualatin Business Center complex. The Tualatin River bridge whose waters attract kayaks stands just two blocks further away.

Cars stop. Some scramble to her aid. “A few minutes later, a rider from my club was there. He didn’t see it happen but arrived shortly after and found me on the ground.”

An avid rider and a member of this weekly riding group, Richard Feinberg drove the car with his bike to the gathering point. Describing the Tuesday ride, “One of my favorites,” Richard finds himself stuck in traffic. “(There seemed an) unusually long line to get through the (two Boones Ferry Rd) intersections.” Maneuvering his way closer, he notes the crash and spots Myra on the ground “about five minutes or so after the accident. Because I had biking clothes on, it seemed like I was in charge” before officers and the ambulance arrived.

Going to her, he asked if she felt any broken bones, how she felt. “She wanted to call her husband.”

Myra said, “Thank goodness I wear a Road ID on my wrist on all my rides.” An ambulance arrives in ten minutes after pushing through the rush-hour traffic. “I was able to call my husband, Mark Mochon. (Richard) gave him directions to the scene, which was only about three miles from our home. He arrived after I was already in the ambulance on the way to OHSU,” the Oregon Health & Science University Hospital.

Richard recounted: “Next, I took her cell phone, made photos, and gave it back to her. Everybody at the scene was positive and trying to help her.” After she left with the ambulance, Richard drove to the meeting site. Since he was late, he caught up with the departing group “and told riders in the back about Myra.”

Their motto: “Take life by the handlebars”

“Mark talked to the driver who hit me, the police officer on the scene, and several witnesses. He was able to collect my broken bike. The bike was totaled.”

At the hospital, the doctors identified a fractured left fibula. This calf bone rides with the most vulnerability for such a blunt strike to the lower leg, especially on a bike.  On the lateral side of the bigger tibia, the bone provides stability to the ankle and a critical attachment point for more than a half-dozen muscles.

In addition to cuts and road rash extending head-to-toe, banging pavement with her head created a concussion even while wearing a superior helmet. “I didn’t know I had a concussion at the time. I do remember while riding in the ambulance I was told I was repeating my sentences over and over again, asking what happened and if I was going to be okay.”

No dense traffic like the day of the wreck, but one can visualize Myra in the bike lane to the right of the white line moving with traffic. The black car passed her. The oncoming blue car, on that day in the turn lane, sees the okay to cross in front “wave” by the stopped black one, then heads to the business complex parking lot striking Myra. The railroad is the Willamette & Pacific Railway.

She convalesced the night in the hospital. Next day, discharged but laden with restrictions, she went home. One restriction—with the concussion Myra couldn’t use crutches because of the dizziness—hampered mobility. Just getting around became a new problem.

Recovery

An athlete’s effort for a speedy recovery from an injury of any kind often coats pain with the stimulate of possibility, which leads to nowhere. “I saw a therapist on Friday, August 26, 2016, three days after the accident, which was way too soon to travel or see a therapist.

Mark stayed by my side, brought my meds, made meals, drove me to all these appointments. He was a great caregiver.”

She exerted real physical effort just 23 days later. “My first workout on the spin bike trainer came on September 15. I took an hour-long recovery walk the first day of October, a Saturday. I also endured vertigo, so that made it difficult to move around most days.

I stayed on STD (Short-Term Disability) for three months and got around by a walker. I started running again by mid-December but at a very slow pace. It wasn’t until January when I finally was feeling better and started training again.

This accident made me more determined to get back in the saddle and become a stronger more dedicated athlete after going through many doctor and physical training appointments, literally hundreds of those.”

The Trek Project 1 Silque Di2 replacement bike with her new Gyro MIPS helmet.

She celebrated with another new ride. “I was not able to get the same bike but ended up replacing it in December with a Trek Project 1 Silque Di2.

The cycling helmet I wore was made by Cannondale Teramo.” Doing its job, the Teramo protected her skull. The helmet’s chin strap design, criticized for its snap-lock design that later changed, held just right in this case. The helmet cracked on impact now sits as an unfortunate souvenir. Myra stepped up to a state-of-the-art replacement with an enhanced safety feature. “I purchased a (black) Giro Synthe™ MIPS to replace my damaged helmet. This helmet sells for about $100 more than the Teramo.”

MIPS (Multidirectional Impact Protection System) features a two-piece design with two layers covering the skull. Like other head protection, Synthe protects against direct impacts. It boosts lateral safety by the helmet, combined with its sliding (10-15mm) head-frame, redirecting rotational force away from the brain, damping the energy. Peter Halldin, Ph.D., co-founder of MIPS and its technology explains the theory here.     

First Competition Post-Crash

The “White River Snowshoe 8K/4K” bills itself as the largest and oldest snowshoe race in the West. Plus, the contest allows “a great winter way to pursue some endorphins,” which seems good therapy for an athlete recovering from a bike crash. The competition on Sunday, January 15, 2017, attracted a strong field. This year found one veteran racer unsure of her abilities, though Myra progressed in the recovery post-calamity. “Knowing that (United States Snowshoe Championship) Nationals was coming up, and although I really didn’t think I was ready for it, I entered the race on a very low-key vibe. I wasn’t in race shape, plus I was suffering from a sinus cold.”

What restrains determined, pent-up talent? Myra surprised most-of-all herself with an under-60 minute 57.17 finish, tallying eleventh overall, second overall female, along with the gold winner as master female. “I just wanted to participate.”

2017 USSSA Snowshoe National Championships

No problem with snow cover in Bend, “Our cozy mountain town,” says VisitBend, an underwriter of the event. No dearth of challenges either on the steep, tough climbs for this 2017 home of the championships that annually click across a map of the four regions of the United States: Northeast, Midwest, Mountain and West Coast. This year just happened for the West Coast’s turn on deck.

Myra No. 234 the start of the 2017 USSSA Dion National Snowshoe Championships Bend, OR

As Richard Bolt, ATRA’s Director of Marketing pointed out, 2017 marked the first time in the 17 years of national championship snowshoe racing the event returned for the second time to the same site. The layout moved from Meissner Snow Park where the race occurred in 2013 to an even higher elevation up Mt. Bachelor with 20-foot snowbanks that included a long, steep climb through “dense forest.” Age-group gold medalist Kris Borchardt posted this account: “With soft powder at 6500 ft., the 1300 ft. of climbing included a slanted incline so steep it took four minutes to walk—twice” as the 5 km course repeated itself. From Wisconsin, he said, “You can’t really train for that either.”

In 2013’s championship on Mt. Bachelor Myra finished in the Top Ten with a 1:14:19 time, missing the National Snowshoe Team by a little more than seven minutes. Note the race this year occurred not only in Myra’s region, her home state and perhaps more so, nearly her back yard. Coincidence?

Race day dawned with inches of new powder brightening the snow. Mild temperatures awaited the competitors along with light winds featuring a brilliant sun bobbing in-N-out of clouds like a burger drive-thru. Mt. Bachelor, an inactive volcanic butte, the kid of the Three Sisters mountains, played a key role in this race.

“I love hills!” USSSA Championships Bend, OR

Bolt wrote in “Trail Runners Hit the Snow for a National Championship in Oregon” (published by the American Trail Running Association) on the challenge of this year’s race. “In the 10K event, Eric Hartmark repeated as national champion finishing the course in 48:56. As a measure of how challenging this year’s layout turned out, Eric won last year’s 10K race in Utah in 41:09 at 9000 feet.” That’s more than a third more altitude than Mt. Bachelor, yet it took him 19 percent longer on this lower elevation compared to 2016.

Mark Elmore highlights Myra’s history in snowshoeing: “She competed in five earlier USSSA National Snowshoe Championships—2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014—over almost a decade. Three of those saw her finish in the Top 10 and as high as sixth in 2009 on Mt. Hood, just missing the national team by one place.”

Ahh, 2009, the year she won gold in the Women’s Master class clocking 1:01:36. Just not quite enough, though, as the differential between Myra’s finish and Colorado’s Cheryl Paulson garnering the fifth-and-last spot on the USSSA National Team tallied just 38 ticks.

2017’s course rewarded toughness. She approached the line for the noon gun, the course already trampled by the men’s 10:30 start—the two classes swap start times annually. Myra recounted, “I didn’t feel great, but I was determined to run as hard as I could. I love hills, and there.were.a.lot.of.them.”

Myra pushing to the finish

The women’s championship witnessed New Mexico’s Michelle Hummel win overall with a sterling 53:05, ranking her as sixth overall in the combined rankings, the first member of the 2017 USSSA National Women’s Team. Heidi Strickler, Washington, mined silver at 1:00:58 and the second member qualified. New York’s Jamie Woolsey 47 seconds later filled the third slot coining her bronze medal. Midwest star, Jennifer Chaudoir of Wisconsin, captured fourth with her 1:04:45.

Down to one remaining slot on the National Team, trailing Chaudoir in by 15 seconds, compartmentalizing all that occurred in the seven months prior, bounded an ecstatic Myra Klettke for her payoff. “To my surprise, I finished fifth overall female capturing the fifth” and last National Team slot, 1:05:00 smack on the dot, proving third times’ charm axiom works in Oregon.

Her result on the more challenging altitude and course improved from 2013 by nearly ten minutes. From five previous attempts, Myra made the team with this one. “My dream came true today after all these years,” she said.

Transcending Happenstance

“Having my bike vs. car accident in August made me more determined to ‘Just Do It’” in true Nike fashion. “The course was the toughest course yet so far. (One has) got to love those uphills,” and conquer them just as she conquered the process of repairing her body. “I think I’m also the oldest to be on this team, age 57, racing against the youngsters.” The first three members of the 2017 team sport two in the 30-34 group, one 25-29 while Chaudoir snowshoed in the 40-44 class. Myra earned her “most senior” ranking.

Considering this finish, one finds principles for life: five times in the championship race, not making her coveted National Team membership, yet never giving up even after the crash. How convenient it might have seemed to many just to cancel out any thoughts of the 2017 USSSA Dion National Championship races. It could have been so easy to do: the excuse-tray chocked full to overflowing, but not in her mind. Instead, Myra took that date and focused on it as a goal that pulled her through the myriad of medical and recovery appointments, plus the travel time and arrangements required; Pulled her through like a towrope to the National Team podium.

Congratulate the 2017 USSSA Women’s National Team (L-R Myra, Heidi Strickler, Michelle Hummel, Jamie Woolsey, Jennifer Chaudoir)

Myra Klettke’s story transcends happenstance. With all pieces coming together, like the event’s location, her injuries, the struggles, the race date, and work required for recovery, one begins to consider a bigger picture here. There’s more going on than meets the eye.

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) argues in this 1998 study challenging such a conclusion: “Most improbable coincidences likely result from play of random events. The very nature of randomness assures that combing random data will yield some pattern.”

The Atlantic continues: “And there are lots of people on this planet—more than seven billion, in fact. According to the Law of Truly Large Numbers, ‘with a large enough sample, any outrageous thing is likely to happen,’ write Diaconis and Mosteller, mathematicians who wrote Methods for Studying Coincidences.”

But in understandable language, the Intuition Journal  quotes Swiss psychologist Carl Jung who coined the word “synchronicities” as “‘The coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.’ Usually, such coincidences seem to have some kind of inherent meaning—even if we don’t know what it is at the time. They make us scratch our heads and wonder, ‘Hmmm . . . .’ Such events can be relatively minor occurrences or, in some cases, significant events that alter the entire course of our lives. We can’t help but wonder if there is some kind of meaning behind it all.”

Perhaps no coincidence occurred at all to Myra. Rather something more powerful, larger than our mortal perceptions allow, happened right in front of everybody making “us scratch our heads and wonder, ‘Hmmm . . . .'”

Women and Men of the Junior and Senior 2017 USSSA National Snowshoe Teams

Indeed the significant event in Myra’s life on August 23, 2016, altered her life. Her resolute approach afterward led to a meaning behind it all: winning a dream goal.

The crash, to no surprise, left scars. “I’m now very paranoid around cars while biking, running or just driving.” However, she battled every element, every negative thought, every moment of self-pity with courage, fortitude, and the blunt recognition that it-could-have-been-worse, lessons others may revisit when overcoming challenges.

Mt. Bachelor received its name because it stands proud and respected. With her challenges, the outcome seems right that Myra Klettke made her first USSSA National Team at this venue as she stood tall in the aftermath of August 23, 2016. Coincidence? It is hard to argue against brilliant mathematicians and intellectuals. But for some, the theme of destiny—the pinpointed race site, challenges of the course playing to one’s skills, a coming together of way-too-many circumstances—reigns more like a natural outcome. As Larry Laveman wrote in his 2006 book Mysticism and Modern Life: Ancient Wisdom for Personal Growth: “As we transcend restrictive levels, the view of the world becomes less rigid. An opening occurs . . . These moments of timing cannot be determined beforehand; they just happen.”  Evolving from that crushed-bike moment, breath spiraling out of her body flagging a new dawn, Myra transcended happenstance.

Just after earning her coveted USSSA National Team membership, husband Mark hugs Myra

Mark Elmore: “All of our USSSA National Team members are special, but the 2017 class has one whose dedication in the face of adversity helps define the human condition and snowshoeing spirit: Myra Klettke, our most senior National Team member ever and certainly one of the most deserving. She’s been chasing a national team berth for almost ten years. Her outstanding showing in 2017 on Mt. Bachelor serves a testimony to perseverance, determination, and an importance of a ‘never say quit’ spirit. She is certainly an outstanding role model to all our younger snowshoers out there.”

In a quiet moment, Myra sighed: “I was so happy that I couldn’t believe I made the USSSA National Team.”

Phillip@ultrasuperior.com

 

 

Special thanks to Myra Klettke for her work, time, and patience while providing the background and account of this story.

Thanks to Richard Feinberg for his diligence in piecing the location together and patience in the interview process.

Italics in this article are from the author.

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