Snowshoe Magazine https://www.snowshoemag.com The snowshoeing experience for snowshoers around the world: snowshoe racing, snowshoes, gear reviews, events, recreation, first-timers. Mon, 12 Nov 2018 23:03:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 28162661 Old Guys Surprise – Shoein’ in the Porkies https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/11/12/old-guys-surprise-shoein-in-the-porkies/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/11/12/old-guys-surprise-shoein-in-the-porkies/#respond Mon, 12 Nov 2018 17:49:54 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=92246 While sitting on chairs around an old wooden table, a warm wood fire slowly burned in a stove, and a gas lantern lit up the small cabin room as two friends and I discussed our snowshoe hiking plans for the … Continue reading

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While sitting on chairs around an old wooden table, a warm wood fire slowly burned in a stove, and a gas lantern lit up the small cabin room as two friends and I discussed our snowshoe hiking plans for the next day. Outside the cabin it was snowing. There was nearly a foot of fresh snow. Temperatures were in the teens by day and single digits by night.

Next door stood a woodshed equipped with a saw and axe, and we had about a 30-foot walk to the outhouse. Our vehicle was parked 70 yards away with a single-track trail leading to the cabin, as we hauled all our gear for our stay. Snow-laden balsams lined the trail and dotted the landscape around our camp.

This past February, my long-time camping and snowshoeing friends, Tom Link and Tom Clark, and I spent three days in a rustic cabin at Upper Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Gitche Gumee Cabin in the Porkies

In the cabin, there was no electricity, no indoor plumbing or water…. just bunk beds with mattresses, table and chairs, a kitchen counter with cupboards and a wood burning stove. The State Park rents out four rustic cabins in the winter. Sixteen cabins in total are available during the other seasons. Our cabin this winter was Gitche Gumee.

About Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

The Porcupine Mountains are a series of relatively small mountains compared to mountains out west or east. They lie in northwest Upper Michigan and rest along the south shore of Lake Superior, the largest of the five Great Lakes. The highest point is Summit Peak at elevation 1,952 feet above sea level.

The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park includes 60,000 acres of pine, hemlock and hardwood. Of those acres, 35,000 are an uncut virgin forest. According to Michigan DNR, the federal government recognized the area as a National Natural Landmark.

In addition to mega beautiful trees, the park is home to inland lakes and ponds, miles of rivers and streams, rushing waterfalls, a long stretch of Lake Superior beach and magnificent flora and fauna. Black bears are plentiful in the park. But fortunately for us, they were hibernating during our visit.

For recreation, the park has 90 miles of hiking trails, a campground, backcountry camping, rustic cabins and wilderness yurts. Highlights include a visitor center with interpretive programs and an exhibition hall (open mid-May to mid-October), Summit Peak observation tower and an 18 hole disc golf course open during the warmer seasons.

In winter, there is a ski hill for downhill skiing and snowboarding, 42 KM of cross country ski trails with two warming shelters, and lantern lit snowshoeing events held at the ski hill. Snowshoers have many acres of land and trails to snowshoe, but need to stay off the ski trails.

Our Experience in the Porkies

The “Porkies,” as it is often referred, was definitely a Michigan winter wonderland when we were there this past winter. Our goal for our short stay was to snowshoe up the Escarpment Trail and catch a view of the popular and scenic 240-acre Lake of the Clouds below.

The main route to view the lake is via the 4-plus mile Escarpment Trail that follows a ridge overlooking Lake of the Clouds. Author Eric Hansen in his book, Hiking Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, stated that the Escarpment Trail is “a ridge walk offering a parade of sweeping views.”

Over the Last 15 Years

Tom, Tom and I are now in our late 60’s (ages 66 to 68). In 2006, we made a similar winter journey with four other friends, camping at Whitetail cabin that sits just yards away from Lake Superior’s shore. That year, we hiked about two miles to get to the cabin, pulling our gear on sleds and using backpacks.

At the trailhead- Tom Clark, Jim Joque, Tom Link

Our snowshoe hike up the Escarpment Trail rewarded us with a breathtaking view of the snow covered Lake of the Clouds on a clear winter day. Although we were younger then, we were hoping to see the same view of the lake on this year’s journey.

Also, in the early 2000’s, Tom Link and I hiked nearly three miles to camp at Union River cabin on two occasions. In 2003, I took a group of college students to the Porkies and camped in and around Union River cabin. Some students stayed in the cabin while others camped nearby in tents and snow shelters. I camped in my tent that night.

And in 2010, Both Toms and two others stayed at Whitetail and summited the Escarpment Trail. However, it was foggy and they could not see the lake below. I did not make that trip due to having shoulder surgery.

Our Recent Experience

So given these several trips, the Porkies in winter were no stranger to us three. This year on the morning of our hike, we were excited to attempt the Escarpment Trail and view the awesome Lake of the Clouds once again.

Blue trail markers guide the way up the Escarpment Trail

We drove a short distance on Michigan’s Highway 107 to a parking area where 107 was barricaded. From there, the backcountry highway was snow-covered and traveled only on snowshoes, skis or by snowmobile. Several snowmobiles passed us by on our two-mile hike to the trailhead.

The temperature was in the middle teens, and it was hazy with occasional snow flurries. We finally approached the trailhead to Government Peak Trail, which was our entry point to get to the Escarpment Trail. Government Peak only went a short distance. We then turned right and started up the seemingly 45-degree angled Escarpment.

Following blue trail markers, we continued to climb for over three-quarters of a mile. In some areas, the snow was so deep that we had to kick-step into the hill to keep from slipping. We took turns breaking trail and applied all of our energy to continue our ascent.

Finally, we recognized stands of pines near the summit. We only wanted to reach the top and look down on the lake, then return downhill. As we made our last stretch to the top with anticipation of a grandiose view, we were surprised when greeted with haze and clouds. We were in the clouds. The only view we had beyond the trees that we stood among were clouds. To our disappointment, we could not see Lake of the Clouds.

However, we were not disappointed in our six mile snowshoe hike, with roughly one of those miles climbing up and one going down a small mountain in challenging deep snow. Given our ages, we were quite proud of our accomplishment. Although we did not see the lake, we did achieve our destination. And, we thoroughly enjoyed our time spent in this magnificent wilderness park with all the natural beauty it provided us.

Tom, Jim, and Tom reach the summit to find haze and clouds

Back at the cabin, Tom, Tom and I once again sat around the wooden table with a warm fire burning in the stove and our gas lantern providing us light as we reminisced about today’s snowshoeing adventure. And over snacks and drinks, we also complained to each other about our aching body parts.

Additional Info

Location: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Trails: Escarpment Trail and Lake of the Clouds
Where To Stay: Rustic Cabin Rentals
Guided Snowshoe Hikes: Porcupine Mountains Visitor Center

 

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How to Prevent Ankle Pain Before Snowshoeing https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/11/11/how-to-prevent-ankle-pain-before-snowshoeing/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/11/11/how-to-prevent-ankle-pain-before-snowshoeing/#respond Mon, 12 Nov 2018 01:17:24 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=92202 Just because the weather is cold and snow is flying everywhere, it doesn’t mean that you have to stay cooped up inside the house until the temperatures rise. As an active person, there are plenty of outdoor activities that you … Continue reading

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Just because the weather is cold and snow is flying everywhere, it doesn’t mean that you have to stay cooped up inside the house until the temperatures rise. As an active person, there are plenty of outdoor activities that you can enjoy during the winter months. One exercise that seems to be gaining in popularity over the past few years is snowshoeing.

They say that if you can walk, you can snowshoe, so you don’t have to be an expert to get out and take part in the fun. Even though beginners are perfectly capable of snowshoeing, everyone needs to be aware of the dangers that come along with it. Injuries are very possible, including those that happen to ankles that weren’t properly prepared for the adventure. Find out how to prevent ankle pain before you strap on those snowshoes.

Choosing the Proper Footwear

You are going to be out walking, or for some running, around in the snow for hours. To prevent injury to the ankles and other parts of your body, you need boots that are going to support you through the ever-changing terrain. In addition, you’re going to want to choose something that will keep your feet warm and dry.

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel

Matching your snowshoe with the type of snowshoeing that you are going to be doing is key. Consider which of these you plan on taking part in before purchasing a shoe:

  • Walking
  • Backpacking
  • Hiking uphill
  • Climbing downhill
  • Running

When your feet are properly supported in the correct boot or snowshoe, you are going to be less likely to suffer injuries from falls or stumbles. Additionally, you will put the proper pressure in the right areas to keep from hurting yourself due to overexertion or improper posture.

Strengthen Your Ankles with Exercise

Are you someone that often rolls their ankles when taking part in normal physical activity? You jump up to shoot a basket and come down with no support from your ankle at all. You’re walking down the street and hit an uneven bump in the road and the first thing to give out is your ankle. It’s not because you’re clumsy per say, it’s because your ankles aren’t as strong as what they could be.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (mrdjrlawrence)

It’s actually called chronic ankle instability and it usually happens after there have been several sprains or strains on the ankle already. It’s most common among athletes, but anyone can suffer from it. It’s often the result of failing to fully heal or rehabilitate that part of the body. It can be extremely frustrating and painful to deal with, and it can stop you in your tracks.

You don’t want to be out miles from the car in your snowshoes when your ankles decide they aren’t going to work anymore. Instead, you need to prepare by building up your ankle strength before you go.

First of all, you should go through proper physical therapy for rehab after an ankle sprain. When it is healed, keep working on building up the bones, muscles, and tendons in that area with ankle exercises. For some, bracing is required while few may need surgery. That’s something that should be discussed with your medical team if you are serious about snowshoeing without ankle discomfort in the future.

Getting Started in Snowshoeing

You may think that there isn’t much to snowshoeing until you get out on a course. It can be fun walking around the backyard or venturing through the neighborhood, but when you get out on an actual trail, it can be a completely different story for a beginner. To start with, pick trails that are fairly flat, short, and easy to navigate. This is where you are going to take the time to work on your technique.

Photo Courtesy of Bureau Land Management Alaska via Flickr

The first thing you will notice when you strap on your snowshoes and hiking boots is that your stance is different than what it is for any other exercises that you do. Instead of standing upright with proper posture, your body automatically will widen out a bit. That means you are adding pressure to your ankles, groin, and hips.

After just a short time out, you should break for the day if you want to prevent sprain or strain on any of those body parts. You can increase your time as you get more comfortable.

You can take some of the pressure off of your lower body by utilizing snowshoeing poles on your travels. They give you a bit more balance and also offer a workout to your upper body in addition to the lower region.

What to Do When You Fall

There may be something in your head saying, “Why would I want to know that? I’m not going to fall. I’m an experienced athlete.” Well, if you are experienced then you know that accidents happen. Even the most advanced athletes make mistakes once in a while.

On snowshoes, there’s always a possibility of falling. When you feel it happening, you want to be sure that you do it as safely as you can to prevent injury to your ankles, knees, back, and other body parts.

When the time comes where you feel as though you’re losing your balance, lean back or to the side to prevent from tumbling forward. Most falls happen when you’re going downhill, and you want to stop that motion before you go flying all the way to the bottom of whatever you are snowshoeing on. Don’t put any added pressure on your body when you’re getting up. Use your poles and roll to your knees balancing yourself as you go up.

Photo Courtesy of iStock

Seeing a Chiropractor Before You Go

Before you head out on your venture, you may want to seek the attention of a professional chiropractor in your area. He or she can take a look at your body as a whole, including your ankles, to make sure that you are up for the challenge ahead of you.

If there are any problems that are noted, you will get a treatment plan and recommendation for exercises and other things you can do at home to get yourself ready. You don’t want to take any chances with your body not being in peak performance when taking part in such an intense activity.

About Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor’s of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998.

He became passionate about being in the chiropractic field after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.

Dr. Wells is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. He continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.

Works Cited

Ankle And Foot Pain Common Causes, Complaints, Diagnosis, Treatment And How Physical Therapy Can Help. (2015). Retrieved October 22, 2018, from The Center for Physical Rehabilitation: http://pt-cpr.com/for-patients/what-hurts/ankle-and-foot-pain

Chronic Ankle Instability. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2018, from Foot Health Facts: https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/chronic-ankle-instability

Sprained Ankle: Rehabilitation Exercises. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2018, from Michigan Medicine University of Michigan: https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/te7604

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Fat Biking and Snowshoeing in the Kingdom Trails https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/11/05/fat-biking-and-snowshoeing-on-the-kingdom-trails/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/11/05/fat-biking-and-snowshoeing-on-the-kingdom-trails/#respond Tue, 06 Nov 2018 04:20:52 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=91898 Most people don’t think of New England as a great cycling destination, but the Kingdom Trails in Vermont yields some of the best bike trails in all of New England. These trails are also great for snowshoeing as the two … Continue reading

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Most people don’t think of New England as a great cycling destination, but the Kingdom Trails in Vermont yields some of the best bike trails in all of New England. These trails are also great for snowshoeing as the two sports go hand in hand. After all, snowshoes provide for great packed fat biking trails!

Here are some of the reasons why the Kingdom Trails should be next on your list of fall and winter cycling and snowshoeing destinations.

Fat Biking

What Are the Kingdom Trails Like?

The Kingdom Trails are very unique from other trails because they’re not located on a national park or a government property—several residents and business owners agreed to open up their private property for cyclists from across the country to visit. With over 150 miles of trails throughout East Burke, there is a trail for everyone.

How Long Is The Season, and How Expensive Is It?

The summer season at the Kingdom Trails begins in May and ends on October 31st.  The Yurt typically opens early December, and trails will open for winter as soon as conditions allow, and then end in April. As far as prices go, the Kingdom Trails are pretty cheap. It’ll cost $15 to visit for the day, or $75 for the year. The year covers two seasons, so if you bought a pass in the summer you could use it till the end of the next winter season.

What Trails Are Available?

With dozens of trails to choose from, there’s something for everybody at the Kingdom Trails. There is beginner as well as experienced trails, and a couple of trails to keep young cyclists occupied near the visitor’s center. The Kingdom Trails are especially known for their sharp berms and winding woodland trails.

Winter—Groomed for Fat Bikes

Because fat biking is so popular, about 25 miles of trails are groomed each winter for fat bikes.  Additionally, there are trails for cross country skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobiles. It is asked that you do not walk on any of the trails unless you are wearing skis or snowshoes.

Kingdom Trails

In fact, Kingdom Trails specifically asks snowshoers for help packing trails when conditions are ideal and the snow is not too wet or soft. It is recommended that snowshoers check in with the Nordic Adventure Center for trail recommendations.

Getting to the Kingdom Trails

By far the easiest way to get to the Kingdom Trails is to drive. The drive is easy for most people in New England. If you’re flying into NE, you’ll likely want to get to Boston Logan airport, although Portland ME’s airport is a similar distance.

Where to Stay?

There are many options for you when choosing where to stay for your trip to the Kingdom Trails. There are numerous B&Bs in the areas, as well as some hotels like the Comfort Inn. If camping is more your speed, you’ll have numerous gorgeous sites to set up your tent or park a trailer. The Kingdom Trails are right next door to the White Mountains, so it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

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Helpful Resources:

https://kingdomtrails.org

http://kingdomtrails.org/accommodations/

*This article was created Personal Injury Help (www.personalinjury-law.com), an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safe and legally! 

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Review of Crescent Moon Snowshoe Trekking Poles – Light and Durable For The Snowshoe Enthusiast https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/11/03/review-of-crescent-moon-snowshoe-trekking-poles-light-and-durable-for-the-snowshoe-enthusiast/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/11/03/review-of-crescent-moon-snowshoe-trekking-poles-light-and-durable-for-the-snowshoe-enthusiast/#respond Sun, 04 Nov 2018 02:41:17 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=91887

If you are into hiking or snowshoeing, good trekking poles will help you maintain balance and overcome any uneasy terrain. As you know, climbing hills can turn into a tricky endeavor without good snowshoe/trekking poles. A well built pair of … Continue reading

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If you are into hiking or snowshoeing, good trekking poles will help you maintain balance and overcome any uneasy terrain. As you know, climbing hills can turn into a tricky endeavor without good snowshoe/trekking poles. A well built pair of trekking poles will also help you maintain your rhythm, and protect your ankles, knees, and hips when going downhill.

Finding a good pair of poles is not always easy, because there are so many options on the market. This is why I’ve decided to take Crescent Moon Snowshoe/Trekking Poles to a hike and test them out. Let’s see what these beauties have to offer to hiking and snowshoeing enthusiasts.

Unboxing

The packaging for the Crescent Moon Snowshoe/Trekking Poles is very light, only 1.8 pounds (800 g). This makes the product convenient for online purchasing, as the low weight won’t affect the shipping costs at all.

The unboxing is a straightforward process. Once I got them out of their original packaging, I closely inspected the poles.

Tech Specs

Crescent Moon decided to make their Snowshoe/Trekking Poles out of an aluminum alloy. This choice has made their product durable but also incredibly light. Both poles are under 1.8 pounds (800 g).

When I received them, they were collapsed and their length was 24 in (61 cm). Since these are telescopic poles, their length is adjustable thanks to the locking mechanism. They can be collapsed up to 53 in (135 cm). I find this extra convenient, as their max adjustable length is more than twice their collapsed length.

The locking mechanism is of the twist type. Adjusting the desired length is very easy. All you need to do is turn the bottom of the poles counterclockwise, pull the bottom of the pole to your desired length, and turn the bottom back clockwise.

The grip is made out of polyurethane. Its ergonomic design makes it really convenient to grip. It has a fine structure, making the pole fit right into your hand with or without gloves.

The straps on both poles come with adjustable webbing. I found this very practical, as you can set the straps really short and secure the grip to be tighter. In any case, if you don’t like these to be too tight, you can loosen them up and use them just as a precaution not to lose your pole, or in case you lose your balance or stumble on some rocks or grass.

The pole tips are made of tungsten and carbide. This material is very durable and strong. In fact, it is even used in the manufacturing of armor-piercing rounds. What does this mean to you? You will be able to put these pole tips against all kinds of surfaces – snow, ice, iced earth, grass, and rock and they won’t even feel it.

Slightly pointed towards the end, these tips will easily penetrate any surface and help you maintain your balance, even on the steepest of climbs. Don’t worry, you get caps to protect your pole tips once you decide to holster them.

Unfortunately, these great trekking and snowshoeing poles come with only standard snow baskets that are designed to serve their purpose well enough. Crescent Moon has left us with the option to easily replace the baskets though. This means that you can put the ones that you prefer on at anytime you want.

The Pros

Adjustable length – Thanks to their telescopic build, these poles’ lengths can be adjusted in one simple action. This feature makes the poles incredibly practical when you have to go through any kind of technical terrain.

You can adjust their length to make your climbing and descending easier. This also makes the poles perfect for many people, as they can adjust the pole’s length according to their height.

The adjustable length makes them a great option for people who enjoy long snowshoeing and hiking expeditions. On these adventures, you will often need your hands completely free. In these situations, you can shrink your poles to their minimum length and put them on your backpack.

They are incredibly light – Thanks to the new technologies and light materials that Crescent Moon has used to build these poles, each pole’s weight stands at 9 pounds (400 g). You’ll be able to hike without even feeling that you have the poles in your hands.

This is especially convenient for hikers who have to bring large and heavy backpacks on their adventures. Since they are incredibly light, they won’t overburden you once you strap them onto your backpack.

Great durability – Crescent Moon Snowshoe/Trekking poles are made of aluminum alloy, which makes them durable and able to withstand hikers’ maneuvers and harsh elements. The tips are made of tungsten and carbide, some of the strongest materials know to men.

The price – The price range of these poles places them in the category of the more affordable ones. They are an excellent choice for those of you who don’t want to go all out investing in hiking and snowshoeing gear.

The Cons

Polyurethane Grip – Although ergonomic in design, the polyurethane grip still feels artificial in the hand. I had to consider the material used for the grips. When compared to the poles with cork and foam grips, these don’t provide the same level of comfort and the hands don’t fall naturally into place.

Standard Baskets – While the standard baskets are going to be more than enough for novice hikers, they are not going to satisfy the true enthusiasts. Fortunately, you can replace them, but Crescent Moon should’ve definitely done a better job with the baskets.

The Final Verdict

Since the trekking poles market is flooded with products, we have to take other poles into consideration before we give you the final verdict on Crescent Moon’s Snowshoe/Trekking Poles.

However, the materials used, their incredibly lightweight/extra durable pole tips, and telescopic body design set them apart from the poles in the same price range and make them a good purchasing option for hiking and snowshoeing enthusiasts.

Happy Hiking Everyone!!

The opinions in this article are the author’s own opinion of the gear mentioned.
Some links in this article contain affiliate links. See our disclosure for more details.

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Autumn Snowshoeing at Taggart Lake, Wyoming https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/10/29/autumn-snowshoeing-at-taggart-lake-wyoming/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/10/29/autumn-snowshoeing-at-taggart-lake-wyoming/#respond Tue, 30 Oct 2018 03:09:23 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=92129 While many mountain areas have to wait until after the holidays before they see much in the way of snow accumulation, Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, WY, is usually blanketed with powder by early November providing a breathtaking winter Continue reading

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Views of the Teton mountain range en route to Taggart Lake.

While many mountain areas have to wait until after the holidays before they see much in the way of snow accumulation, Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, WY, is usually blanketed with powder by early November providing a breathtaking winter playground for early season adventure seekers.

Although the majority of the main Teton Park Road that bisects the park closes for the winter on November 1st, the parking area at Taggart Lake Trailhead is accessible year-round, making this a popular area for snowshoeing. Although it is not plowed, a good portion of this road (up to Jenny Lake, another great snowshoeing spot) is groomed occasionally for snowshoers and skiers. Dogs are allowed on this portion of road as well (on a leash) although they are not permitted on the actual trails.

Located just two miles north of the Moose Entrance Station, the Taggart Lake Trail is a 3.8 mile loop featuring nonstop views of the stunning 13,770-foot Mt. Grand Teton, the highest peak in the Teton Range, and ample opportunities to view wildlife such as moose, fox, black bear, grouse and much more. Winter is an especially good time for spotting wildlife tracks in the snow, which makes for an entertaining game during your trek for hikers of all ages (this is an especially effective method of keeping kids engaged, however.)

On a recent snowshoe hike, we also found uplifting messages etched in the snow and posted at creek crossings–cheerful discoveries adding inspiration to an already delightful day blessed with ample sunshine and bright blue skies that the Rockies region is known for.

The trail starts out flat and wide from the parking area and slowly but surely becomes a bit more steep and narrow as it approaches the lake. The total elevation gain of the trail, however, is only around 500 feet, making it ideal for those still adjusting to the altitude (the trail head is situated at about 6,600 feet.)

The first half of the loop hugs alongside Taggart Creek, meandering through forests of frosted lodge pole pine trees and barren Aspen groves, with a gradual climb before reaching the shores of the expansive glacial lake. The terrain’s gentle undulations over the creek and through forests also make it popular with back country and cross-country skiers, and often snowshoers will have to step aside to let them zoom through the downhills sections.

Plan to spend some time at the 305-acre lake to rest and take in the pristine views of the Teton Range–showcasing close up views of several peaks towering over 12,000 feet– and perhaps enjoy a snack or warm beverage on the rocky beach area.

Taggart Lake is one of six moraine lakes at the base of the Teton range, with Jackson Lake being the largest covering more than 25,000 acres. Although the trail is popular with locals and tourists alike, we had little company at the top and plenty of time and space to sit in silence and enjoy the white noise of winter. Sit long enough and you’re likely to have the opportunity for bird watching, as the park is home to more than 300 species of birds. If the lake is frozen, take standard precautions if you choose to venture onto its surface, however snowshoeing on the lake in the winter is common. 

Although we were running out of daylight, those who wish to continue north to Bradley Lake from here will find a one-and-a-half-mile out and back trail skirting the lake’s eastern edge. This can also be done as an additional three-mile “lollipop” loop by veering right at a fork in the trail just before reaching Taggart Lake, which will take you to Bradley Lake first. Note that this route is also sometimes referred to as the Valley Trail or the Beaver Creek Trail on various park maps. For an even greater challenge, or a winter camping excursion, many more miles of backcountry trails can be accessed north from Bradley Lake.

A handful of companies provide guided snowshoe hikes and nature walks in this area of the park, and many shops in town can provide snowshoe rentals if needed.

The park itself also offers free guided snowshoe hikes from the Taggart Lake trail head throughout the winter, usually beginning in late December. The program provides complimentary snowshoe rentals and is led by a knowledgeable ranger who shares information about the area’s geography and wildlife.

Since much of this trail is located in the trees, it is highly recommended to wear a hat or hood to shield from falling snow and icy cold drips. Trekking poles are also recommended to assist in navigating the narrow wooden bridges at several creek crossings. Bathrooms are provided at the trail head. Dogs are not allowed on the trail.

Additional Information:

Location: Taggart Lake Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Typical Snowshoe Season: November- March
Snowshoe Rentals & Guided Tours: National Park Service

 

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Annika Rogers Conquers More Than Mashed Potatoes Snow at the WSSF 2018 Championships https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/10/26/annika-rogers-conquers-more-than-mashed-potatoes-snow-at-the-wssf-2018-championships/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/10/26/annika-rogers-conquers-more-than-mashed-potatoes-snow-at-the-wssf-2018-championships/#respond Fri, 26 Oct 2018 16:15:01 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=91364 The snow that was tossed madly by fierce gusts “mirrored a scene from the Himalayas,” said Annika Roger’s mother, Johanna. During the difficult conditions that were rustled up by the mountains to stifle competitors struggling to complete this challenge, a … Continue reading

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The snow that was tossed madly by fierce gusts “mirrored a scene from the Himalayas,” said Annika Roger’s mother, Johanna. During the difficult conditions that were rustled up by the mountains to stifle competitors struggling to complete this challenge, a thought may have crossed Annika’s mind: I’ve overcome much worse.

Annika charging to the finish at the 2018 WSSF Championships

Crossing Spain’s 2018 World Snowshoe Federation Championship finish at some 9,000 feet, Junior Class racer Annika Rogers,18, completed what is widely regarded as the toughest WSSF competition course to date. It challenged all. Her time, 49:48, mattered; in fact, as it turned out, it mattered a lot.

Annika recalled the race day. “We took a cable car almost straight up the mountainside (Masters Class medalist Cecilia Muldoon (Walker) called it ‘scary’) to get to the race site in the mountains with the wind blowing a gale. The course (the 5km distance for the Junior Class) was the most difficult I have ever been on. There were very few flat portions of the course. Almost the whole way was either straight uphill or a steep downhill. Even the best snowshoers in the world had their hands on their knees power hiking on some of the uphills.”

Cecilia agreed. “The course was tough. Not a runner’s course, more of a climber’s course. It was a lot of relentless up-and-down, not much flat. The snow was like chunky mashed potatoes. Just 300 meters into the race, you were faced with a quad-holding climb.” {Video of the Race with Annika No. 201 while Michael Wert No. 207 wore a GoPro}

Those uphills refer to the behemoth Picos de Europa Mountains National Park, Fuente De’ in Cantabria, known for the dramatic scenery and treacherous trails. With the park celebrating its 100th year, the stunning scope of these high altitude landscapes combined with snow cover pushed the exertion factor to a max 10.

All championship competitors and citizen racers rode the cable car’s four-minute journey to the racing site, offering panoramic views up and down the mountain. The capacity of that system limited the numbers of Citizen Class entries, which quickly filled to its 400 limit. Oscar Sebrango, the Picos Xtreme race director/manager, explained, “The capacity of the cable car if we added more people, they would have had to wait a lot to get down.” A unique feature of the Citizens Class race is that, “The cable car opened just for us at night. It was the first time that a snowshoe event was made at night at the top of the cable car.”

L-R Myra Klettke, Cecilia “Ceal” Muldoon, Johanna Rogers, and Annika Rogers pose during their travels (at lower altitudes) prior to WSSF Championship Race Day

“The docking station was cold, damp and crowded,” recalled  Johanna. “So crowded you could only walk in one direction towards one corner set up for athletes to change, check backpacks, talk and laugh nervously.  The focus was on the weather and what clothing to wear or not to wear.  The start of the championship was approaching, and again movement was in one direction, this time outside, towards the start and finish area.  The scenery was stunning; snow-covered mountains with high rock peaks, the wind was so strong, and the snow was blowing.  There was a sea of athletes; all gathered together all moving in an attempt to warm up.  It was intense.

I was standing with Annika and when I glanced over; I noticed tears rolling down her cheeks. I was nervous with intimidation, was she?  She shook her head, and without hesitation, tears were rolling down my cheeks as well.  Despite the pride I had for Annika at that moment, I was overcome.  It was at that instant I decided to start behind Annika and follow her on her one loop, the first of my two loops (for the Senior and Master Classes).  What I did not anticipate was the number of athletes snowshoeing and power hiking on the same path in same footprints; passing was arduous, and once you had secured a spot in the line that was your spot in the line.  The snow was deep; the ascents and descents were both long and steep.

The breath-taking view down while traveling up the Picos de Europa Mountains National Park

The course was challenging, so challenging. I had never trained or competed in an environment similar to Picos de Europa National Park.  I questioned the long hours of running on roads, trails, grass, ice and sometimes snow.  I even questioned myself as an athlete.  As with all races, the finish was a welcome sight, and the moment I crossed over it, Annika was there to celebrate my arrival.”

A record for the WSSF, 400 citizen racers bought out the available race slots for that competition. 190 competed in the world championship distances for the Junior Class (under the age of 20) and the Seniors (age 20-39) and Masters (age 40 and above). The largest World Snowshoe Federation Championship ever awaited the onslaught of snow lovers on these steep up-and-down trails at altitude.

No way these peaks, some 300 million years of standing tall, would ever imagine a teenager by the name of Annika Rogers snowshoeing its challenges, conquering them like she did, especially when overcoming an enormous obstacle as a newborn infant in China.

Where It All Started: China’s Cultural Revolution

The arc guiding Annika’s life began 47 years ago, decades before her birth, as China’s government produced a roadmap for the reduction in their population growth called a one-child policy. (1)  Two years later, a part of the Cultural Revolution, family planning (read that as reducing family size) programs spread across the country, as well as exorbitant fees if you broke their rules.

By 1978 the government officially set out to slow population growth with the enforcement of a one-child rule. 21 years before Annika’s birth, the limit to childbirth found a voice in the state-controlled media with bribes of more food promised to some who committed to only one child (in Sichuan Province). In 1979, government officials were required to respond publicly with how they complied with such a rule. In Wuxi, a city in Jiangsu province, of the 29 officials, 27 were men, with ten choosing vasectomies while 13 spouses used pills or intrauterine methods. Two did not practice any planning—maybe because of age. The two remaining were too young to marry under the Chinese no-marriage clause restricting that option until one’s late ‘20s. Well, Happy Valentines to you, too. Cash subsidies were offered for abstaining from birthing more than one child. Some actions regarding female newborns by their struggling parents do not need annotation here.

Mr. Li Guoqing (year 2000 photo) director of the Gaoming when Annika was adopted along with Madame Luo Ai Ying, Vice Director.

The emphasis on male infants created selective-gender horrors and later an imbalance of available women for marriage, a massive economic disaster for the country’s economy. Scroll forward 34 years to 2013, when the first timbers supporting this policy disaster collapsed as a resolution passed allowing couples to have two children if either parent was an only child.

In the midst of these policies, down in southeast China on November 1, 1999, Annika Rogers found life in an antiquated train station. Alone. An infant newborn. Abandoned.

Ten months pass as her eventual parents, Georgia residents Johanna and Rick Rogers, saved her by adoption September 3, 2000. The woman who became her mother, Johanna, described the account:

The police were called [to the terminal], and she was brought to the local police station. A report was written, and photographs were taken. She remained at the police station several days, awaiting an orphanage opening.  The Gaoming Welfare Institute [opening 1997 in this busy port city] accepted Annika where she spent the next ten months sharing a crib with one baby and a room with sixty-five others. The crib had no mattress, and each baby was given one towel; miraculously, each baby mastered the art of wrapping the towel around their neck with enough excess towel to rest their head.

The current Gaoming orphanage housing both seniors (1st floor) and infants (3rd) while older children reside on the 4th floor. Included, a kindergarten and play area.

On September 3 in Guangzhou, China we celebrated Annika’s arrival [one of 57 adoptions that year from this institution].  She was in an infant car seat on a bus and delivered to us at the White Swan Hotel [an elegant 5-star facility]. It was the beginning of her life as she knows it now.

Journey to the Picos

Years later, Johanna marvels that, “To travel with Annika to Spain, to represent and compete at the 2018 World Snowshoe Championships as members of the US National Snowshoe Team was epic.

We traveled from Boston, Massachusetts to Bilbao, Spain, where we met up with Team USA.  The team traveled first class in a purple Mercedes Autobus.  Spain and the Spanish people are both beautiful and welcoming.  However, it was the people, our teammates, our times together, sitting in cafes sipping café con leche—bold Spanish coffee mixed with scalded milk half-and-half—and nibbling on Spanish croissants, walking, running, polar plunging in the Bay of Biscay, conversations, and laughter.”

“We visited three cities: Bilbao, Santander, and Espinama. All three were very different, special and beautiful. Bilbao (the 2018 European City of the Year) was an inland city where we visited the famous Guggenheim Museum. Santander was a coastal city where two of my friends and I went for a Polar Plunge in the Bay of Biscay when the thermometer read 36˚F. Espinama was a quaint village nestled in the mountains accented by sheep, goats, and horses. On our way to Espinama, we visited the El Soplao Caves, known for its eccentric, gravity-defying formations and pristine condition. We also visited the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liebana, which houses the largest remaining piece of wood Christ was crucified on (The True Cross).”

An example suite at the White Swan Hotel where infant Annika’s adoption by the Rogers reached its final step.

Annika added, “I traveled with an amazing group of people from all across the country and a few from Canada and Japan. Everyone was so friendly and amazing. I had an incredible time getting to know them and experiencing Spain together. Out of the whole ten-day experience, the people were by far my favorite part. We all had a shared love of snowshoeing, but we were all unique, too; a Nike executive from Oregon, an anesthesiologist from Colorado, an art teacher from Florida, a running coach from New York, an orthopedic intern from Quebec City, plus an ultra skyrunner who lives out of her truck part of the year.”

Bilbao Spain wins Euro City of 2018, home of Guggenheim Museum

The Move

Prior to her journey to the Picos, Annika and her family experienced an event that would alter their lives. In 2005, as Annika celebrated her sixth birthday, the Rogers family up-and-moved from Atlanta, Georgia, to Islesboro, Maine, a 14-mile sliver of land between two channels, the kind of relocation that fills one’s imagination. From a historic metropolis with six million inhabitants, site of the 1996 Summer Olympics and the Georgia Aquarium—one of the world’s largest—home of Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, and CNN, to an unbridged island in the middle of the Penobscot Bay. Population 1000, tops.

Rick explained: “Like many a major life decision, a sequence of circumstances and assumptions brought us to it. In 2000, we had purchased some raw land, by which I mean heavily overgrown with second or third growth forest. It did, however, have some nice waterfrontage and an exceptional view. The plan, eventually turn this into a summer or retirement home.”

Here’s your three-mile “bridge” to the mainland from Islesboro: the Terminal for the Margaret Chase Smith Ferry. Fee for car and driver: $30  (I knew you wanted to know). The ferry lands at Lincolnville on the hour, Islesboro on the half-hour. Also houses the Grindle Point Sailor’s Museum and lighthouse.

That opportunity came to unexpected fruition in the earlier part of this century when Delta Air Lines, coming under financial stress, made Rick’s decision as a pilot to retire a no-brainer; that was the way to save an income stream and retirement benefits. So from McMansions and McTraffic jams to a “small, one bedroom, one bath apartment over a two car garage and storage space”, where the only traffic wait is that for the ferry, the family made its way.

The area remains a lobster lover’s paradise. My brother, Paul E. Smith, posts food reviews from all over the globe at RoadFood known as “The Guide to Authentic Regional Eats.” He told me of “the great lobster” enjoyed on the dock of Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast Harbor, Maine, which overlooks the island.

Lots of lobster in Maine! Here’s a 4th generation restaurant with “Lobsters caught, cooked, eaten, and shipped 7 days a week.”

“It was a major adjustment,” Rick added. “Until we were able to turn the garage into finished space, our son slept in the heated garage, and our daughter slept in a closet. Downsizing our lives was a necessity.  Opting for what we hoped would be a better quality of life in Maine, especially for the children, was the real reason we moved. With a combination of small class sizes (Annika graduated in a class of six; her older brother, Holden, eight) along with online courses, both have impressive academics.”

This summer Annika studied for a month from a scholarship awarded at Cambridge University, England. and she began at Dartmouth College this fall, where she is competing as a member of the Dartmouth Sailing Team. Holden, her brother, graduated from West Point in 2014. Completing his obligation, he now lives in White Plains, New York, pursuing a career with PepsiCo.

Annika explained, “For the first few years we lived on the island, my mom was the school’s cross-country coach, so I started running when I was in kindergarten. I competed in USATF Cross Country from 4th grade to the 10th. Throughout that time, I raced four road half marathons and two 25ks on trails.” Her final two years of high school found her running track, complementing her four years of snowshoeing.

“Running has always been a passion we shared,” said Johanna.  “However, winters are long, dark and cold in Maine and snowshoeing seemed perfect, running on snow.  In 2015, 2016, and 2017 Annika and I traveled to Wisconsin, Utah, and Oregon to compete alongside the best snowshoe athletes in the United States at the US National Snowshoe Championships.  It was at this event in 2017 at Mount Bachelor in Bend, Oregon, that Annika and I both qualified for the US National Snowshoe Teams that would travel to and compete at the 2018 World Snowshoe Championships.

Annika qualifies for her first USSSA Junior National Team as Sports Director Mark Elmore calls out the Mt. Bachelor, OR., race as he has done so admirably every year. He commented, “I remember her crossing the finish line and being so excited that she had finally earned a berth on the national team.”

The 2018 World Snowshoe Federation Championship

Annika’s challenging work was rewarded with a bronze finish in her class, as Annika joined teammate and two-time gold medalist Soleil Gaylord, along with two-time silver winner Esther Molinari, Italy, on the champion’s podium. When Margret Montag of Paul Smith’s College, New York, finished fourth, the U.S. Junior Team then claimed their Women’s Team Gold.

Closing in on a medal near the finish of the 2018 WSSF Championships

With two WSSF medals and one race, which is the most prestigious for the sport on the globe, Annika’s journey from a gut-wrenching start to life in a far-away railway station, where her ticket to a lifelong destination came in the form of the Rogers, now rejoices to:

Home where my thought’s escaping,

Home where my music’s playing,

Home where my love lies waiting silently for me. (2) 

Myra Klettke, a veteran snowshoe racer and member of the USSSA National Snowshoe Team, said, “This was one of my toughest races ever; wind, cold, crazy hills and elevation were all factors.  I truly enjoyed getting to know Annika. My friend Ceal [Cecilia Muldoon Walker] and I got to share an apartment with Annika and Johanna in Espinama while preparing for our big race. Annika is a very nice, humble girl and an awesome athlete. It was a lot of fun hanging out with her.”

Cecilia said, “I really enjoyed getting to know and spending time with Annika and her mom. Annika is a brilliant girl, very driven. I was so impressed with her academic and athletic accolades but most of all with her being just a genuinely nice person.”

Myra finished tenth overall, first in her age group (50-59), second overall Master (40 and over). Cecilia captured a bronze medal in the same age group.  Johanna completed the 10km in 01:32:47, a great position in her category. These finishes keyed the Senior Women’s USA Team to their first-place overall ranking.

Other finishers include Sarah Keyes, who won the US Skyrunning Ultra Distance Championship, becoming the Vertical Kilometer Champion in 2016. From the Adirondacks, she must have found the World Snowshoe Championship’s conditions to her liking, finishing sixth overall in the Senior Women’s class. Along with the 2018 USSSA National Champion Michelle Hummel of Albuquerque (earning the WSSF women’s gold medal as the only finisher under an hour) and Nike’s Myra Klettke, the U.S. women’s competitors won three of the top ten slots.

Junior Women’s 2018 Medalists (L-R) USA’s Annika Rogers, Soleil Gaylord, and Italy’s Esther Molinari

To best understand the grandeur of the 2018 World Snowshoe Federation Championship, click this link and “Look for Adventure,” as this awesome Olympic-like movie short is named. Just like you were there, riding the cable car, racing the event, now celebrate the victory parade along with these talented athletes.

Oscar Sebrango, the Picos Xtreme race director/manager, added, “Both the opening ceremony and the prizes ceremony took place in Potes. They were so impressive.” Impressive, the perfect word for the 2018 World Snowshoe Championship. Impressive just like the snowshoers, the fans, the volunteers, the event organizers, the World Snowshoe Federation, the epic mountains, and . . . just like Annika Rogers.

A reflection on this story reveals how providential for tiny infant Annika that things worked out; incredible. It doesn’t seem plausible the whole situation occurred just because of some random luck. There must have been an angel’s love that saved her at birth then delivered her safely to that railroad station, intuitively knowing she would be discovered and protected.  The angel’s grace continued, destined that the perfect family, the Rogers, take her little basket to the USA. And they did. The world seems better as a result.

Take part in the 2019 WSSF Championships, which will be held on January 5, 2019 and will be hosted by La Ciaspolada in Val di Non, Italy. According to the WSSF, “The course starts with a view of the UNESCO Heritage Brenta Dolomites, and follows an airy gently undulating plateau, that features the Maddalene mountains in the background.” A preview of the event and registration can be found at the World Snowshoe Federation website.

(1) source: NY Times

(2) Lyrics by Paul Simon 1963; written while traveling from a performance in England

Write Phillip Gary Smith: phillip@ultrasuperior.com


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Test Your Snowshoes – 5 (Almost) Easy to Climb Mountain Peaks https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/10/22/test-your-snowshoes-5-almost-easy-to-climb-mountain-peaks/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/10/22/test-your-snowshoes-5-almost-easy-to-climb-mountain-peaks/#respond Tue, 23 Oct 2018 01:29:43 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=91726

Mountain climbing and backcountry snowshoeing are no longer activities reserved for those “crazy” types – it’s actually becoming more and more popular. There are various organizations and sports clubs that constantly introduce new people to mountain climbing and show them … Continue reading

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Mountain climbing and backcountry snowshoeing are no longer activities reserved for those “crazy” types – it’s actually becoming more and more popular. There are various organizations and sports clubs that constantly introduce new people to mountain climbing and show them the magic of nature, high peaks, and snow-covered mountains.

Now, if you already have some experience and you did enough time to know the routine, preparation, and potential dangers, you might want to consider the following destinations. Once you get hooked, it’s difficult not to climb, but going over to the same peaks, again and again, can become boring.

This is why I’ve decided to give you 5 mountain peaks that are fairly easy to climb and that provide snowshoe opportunities at the same time, so that you can satisfy your thirst. For a little while at least.

1.    Mount Fuji, Japan

Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in all of Japan and it’s considered sacred. When I climbed it the first time I was really scared, as I thought it would be really difficult to reach the top, but from my experience, it really isn’t. As soon as I joined my climbing group I felt the pressure go away, as I saw people that were over 50 years old going along on the climb. In spite of the high altitude (12,388 ft; 3,776 meters), the climb is an easy one-day hike if you set out early.

Over 300,000 people a year climb to the summit of Fuji, with a lot of those being tourists that don’t have lots of experience with climbing mountains. Even though this may be the case, it is recommended to come prepared for the hike, which includes a pair of trekking boots, waterproof clothing in case of rain, multiple layers including a base layer, mid layer and outer layer, a head lamp, and food and water. One also needs solid stamina and fairly strong legs to complete the trek.

There are four trail head options to reach the summit, each with different altitudes, time recommendations, trail topography, mountain hut availability, and access. More information can be found at the Official Website for Mt. Fuji Climbing. The trail I completed starts somewhere around 2,300 meters and the summit ends at 3,776 meters, which was not long at all for me, but can be for some climbers. Expect 5-10 hours for the climb, depending on the trail you choose. The hike can be broken up into two days by staying at a mountain hut along the way.

Bear in mind that the climbing season on Mount Fuji starts on July 1st and ends on August 31st and you can expect a big crowd during this period, so it’s important to plan ahead. It is possible to catch the snow on the top if you go at the start of the hiking season as well.

You can still climb in the off season, but the police department requests that a climbing form is filled out ahead of time, which can be found here under ‘off season climbing’. Luckily, there are certified instructors, such as Fuji Mountain Guides or certified private guides who offer off-season tours or will take you up there while there is still snow. Some might say that climbing Mt. Fuji when it’s snowy is better and I agree completely.

Winter conditions on Mt. Fuji typically last from late November through mid April and snow can be found all the way through June. During the winter months, please note that Mt. Fuji is a much more serious climb and should only be attempted by experienced climbers due to extreme wind conditions and thick ice. Temperatures can drop to -50 Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit) with wind chill! Also bear in mind that the weather on Mt. Fuji is very unpredictable and you should always bring full cold weather gear noted above, including your snowshoes!

2. Maunakea, Hawaii

From its base up to the summit, Maunakea is the tallest mountain in the world. It’s an inactive volcano that stretches for 10 kilometers (over 6 miles)! However, over half of the volcano is under the sea level and this is why Mount Everest is the tallest mountain. In just 5 hours of hiking (in my case), you can reach the top of the (technically) highest mountain in the world and have a cool story to tell your friends.

The hiking trail to the summit is 6 miles, with the start of the hike over half of the way from the actual base, which is why it can be fairly easy to reach the summit. The start of the trail is near Maunakea Visitors Center. Please note that while it took this author 5 hours to reach the summit, the average time is closer to 8 hours and may take longer. So while you’re at the Visitors Center, it’s a good idea to register and get additional information about the climb, trail, and the necessary equipment you need to take with you. The only nuisance I’ve had while climbing Maunakea was that it was really hot and you need a lot of water to stay hydrated, so remember to pack 1 to 2 gallons of water for your hike.

After all, it’s Hawaii and the whole mountain is basically a desert environment, with exceptions during winter. Maunakea does receive snowfall throughout the year, with some storms bringing a up to a foot of snow! This mountain can be a bit tricky as the temperatures can go down to minus 4 degrees Celsius (25 Fahrenheit) or lower during winter, and even to 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) during summer. Please note that road closures at the Maunakea Visitors Center do occur with snow or ice on the roads. More information on road closures and hazards can be found on the Visitor Center website.

This is why you should have gear for snow climbing, including snowshoes in winter time,  because you never know what to expect. It is also suggested that young children, pregnant women, and people in poor health shouldn’t climb father than the visitors center. Bear in mind that the location around the visitors center can get crowded, especially during the climbing season and you might get caught waiting up in a big line.

3. Pikes Peak, United States

Pikes Peak is probably the most difficult mountain to summit on our list. It’s right on the verge of being an intermediate difficulty climb, as the route itself is over 21 kilometers long (13 miles) with almost 1,300 meters (4,200 feet) in elevation gain. This means that you already need to have good cardio ability and the necessary strength as the climb is almost a half-marathon that comes in the form of hiking.

However, the route to the top is well-built and maintained, which makes the climb easier. There is no need for any technical climbing but you still need to be physically fit. You can summit via the Barr Trail or from the Crags. What makes the climb easier is the fact that from the Barr Trail, there is a resting point at the half-point of the trail called the Barr camp. This is where you can rest as much as you want before you regain your strength. This is why my group and I reserved a stay overnight in advance, just in case. Even though we had some experience by then and didn’t need so much rest, it’s a beautiful place to stay and we enjoyed every moment of it.

The Barr Trail is recommended for hiking during the spring, summer, and fall months. Please note that temperatures at the top can be 40 degrees cooler than at the start of the trail, according to the USDA, so please prepare for all conditions. Additional gear may be required including snowshoes, trekking poles, thick socks, gaiters, a base layer with long sleeves and long bottoms, jackets, and a warm beanie.

For snowshoe specific trails, the Crags Trail is open all year round, including winter. This trail is approx 1.5 miles long with an elevation gain of approx 300 meters (1,000 feet). Roads are not plowed in the winter to the trailhead so be prepared with a 4 x 4 vehicle. Snowshoe specific tours in the Pikes Peak area are offered through Pikes Peak Alpine School.

4. Mount Temple, Canada

Rising at 3,400 meters (over 11,000 feet), Mount Temple is one of the most popular peaks for climbers within the Canadian Rockies. This is because, in this author’s opinion, it’s also the easiest to climb. Even though the road up to the top is fairly long and it might take a day or a two to reach the peak, the elevation gain of the climb is approx 1,700 meters (5,500 feet). Still, this mountain is gigantic and it is the tallest one in Banff National Park, from which the trail to the top starts.

The average time expected for this hike is 7-12 hours. You can expect fairly moderate scrambling up to the top and even some intense moments, even on the easiest route possible. The site is simply beautiful and apart from climbers, many painters and photographers visit this area to see the amazing landscapes.

The most difficult area is the final climb, where you will have to do some snowshoeing. However, even on the easiest route, winter climbing can be difficult, as temperatures average between -4 Celsius (25 Fahrenheit) to -32 Celsius (-26 Fahrenheit) between October and April.

When I was climbing this peak during winter, there was a lot of snow and ice and you had to move slowly, but the terrain doesn’t present too much trouble for someone experienced. The biggest issue is that the temperatures can drop quite a bit, so be prepared with full winter climbing gear and then some: quality winter boots, helmet, harness, crampons, headlamp, mountaineering axe, waterproof jacket and pants, thick and warm bottoms and tops, gloves, toque, hiking poles, hiking socks, and gaiters. For additional preparation recommendations, consult Banff National Park’s Scrambler’s Guide to Mount Temple.

5. Tofana di Rozes, Italy

Tofana di Rozes is one of three peaks of the Tofane group rock massif in the Dolomites in Italy. It rises at 3,225 meters (10,500 feet) and is located in the south of the massif. Even though the climb is only around 700 meters (2,300 feet), it requires certain technical climbing knowledge and gear. The summit can be reached via the west or the north face.

Tofana di Rozes from the west face is a  ferrata climb, which makes it easy for beginners for the most part, even during winter. For a ferrata climb, you will need a helmet, harness, and ferrata kit. In fact, this was my first ferrata climb ever and it was really a piece of cake. From the north face, the summit can be reached via a more traditional hike. There is a hiking route that reaches the climb and here you have a beautiful plateau with an amazing view where you can rest before the climb.

The climbing season typically ranges from July-October, but winter climbs are also a possibility.  Snowfall typically begins in December and can be present throughout the summer months on Tofana di Rozes. Winter temperatures on average can range from 15 Celsius (60 Fahrenheit) down to -7 Celsius (20 Fahrenheit).

It’s recommended that you get a mountain climbing guide, such as Dolomiti Mountain Guide or other private guide to help you reach the top. You need to get the standard mountaineering gear such as quality snowshoes, trekking poles, warm and waterproof clothing, trekking boots, snow/ice pick, and crampons. For me, this climb was to be or not to be, and after you climb it successfully, the feeling is so darn rewarding.

These are some of the (almost) easiest peaks to climb across the world. However, bear in mind that climbing is different for everyone when it comes to difficulty, especially during winter climbs. Some people are able to advance faster than others. This is why you should make sure that you are prepared for these mountains before embarking on them.

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Your Brain on Nature: A Book Review of “The Nature Fix” https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/10/14/your-brain-on-nature-a-book-review-of-the-nature-fix/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/10/14/your-brain-on-nature-a-book-review-of-the-nature-fix/#respond Sun, 14 Oct 2018 21:03:26 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=91516 “The Nature Fix” by Florence Williams, published by W.W. Norton & Company in 2017, provides the most compelling argument to date for people to spend more time outdoors in nature, based on an increasing amount of biological, psychological and medicinal … Continue reading

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“The Nature Fix” by Florence Williams, published by W.W. Norton & Company in 2017, provides the most compelling argument to date for people to spend more time outdoors in nature, based on an increasing amount of biological, psychological and medicinal scientific evidence.

Photo courtesy of “The Nature Fix” publisher

Over the years, efforts have been made to quantify nature’s impact on mood, well being, ability to think (remember, plan, create) and sociability. The “biophilic” hypothesis involves lowering human stress, boosting mental health, restoring attention, empathy, and cognitive clarity.

Nature also affects a social component, like the feeling that is shared among people who spend time together outdoors, or people who perform exceeding acts of kindness in the aftermath of a severe environmental event such as a tornado, earthquake, or firestorm.

The recommended prescription for getting outdoors in a “nature pyramid” includes both quick doses and longer spells in wild places. Specifically, humans should:

  • Get out in nature nearby on a daily basis for some minutes to de-stress, find focus, and lighten mental fatigue

  • Spend weekly outings at parks or waterways for an hour or so, and

  • Go on monthly weekend excursions to natural areas to bolster immune systems

The top of the pyramid includes annual or biyearly multi-day wilderness trips. More significantly, such wilderness experiences are invaluable for adolescents or those who are in grief or suffering trauma.

Family snowshoeing at Smuggler’s Notch, courtesy of Smuggs

The author traveled the world to investigate and experience research on nature’s impact on humans. In Japan, she saw “forest bathing” on a sensory walk in the woods, which was on one of the 48 forest therapy trails in the country. In Scotland, they call it “eco therapy.” In Korea, she met with a professor of “social forestry” who introduced her to the world’s only college degree for forest healing. In South Korea from 2010-2013, visits to the forest increased from 9.4 million to 12.7 million, Nowhile in the USA there was a decline of 25% during the same time period.

The evidence (20 pages of cited notes and credits) about nature impact involves details with cortisol levels, sympathetic nerve activity, heart rate decline, and hemoglobin in the brain’s prefrontal cortex.  The book is replete with that type of information, which may be news to most people who may not be familiar with such neurological details.

Noted in the book, one of nature’s benefits are delivered through sound—a bubbling brook, bird tweets in the early morning, the leaves moving in the wind, and so on. But the U.S. Park Service claims that 83% of land in the lower 48 states sits within 3,500 feet of a road and that within 20 years, 90 percent of the population will be close enough to hear at least one of the projected 30,000 airplane flights per day.

Lupine photo in the White Mountains, courtesy of Roger Lohr

In Finland, 95 percent of the population spends time recreating outdoors and 50 percent ride bicycles. It is easy to access forests because 74 percent of the country is covered by trees, and there are two million summer cottages for a population of two million Finns, who claim the focus on nature correlates to reduced health care costs and mental and physical fitness.

The author, Florence Williams, visited Singapore, where 70 percent of the population lives within 400 meters of green space. The government in Singapore allocates 0.6 percent of the national budget to develop scenery and greenery.

There are successful nature programs to help people who suffer with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Outward Bound did a study on a therapeutic adventure program showing the improvement of 9-19 percent of participating veterans who had PTSD. Williams includes a discussion about ADHD programs where 6.4 million kids are diagnosed and half of them are taking medication for the malady.

Isn’t it about time that more therapists, doctors, teachers, and parents prescribe getting outdoors more often?

To learn more about “The Nature Fix” and the author Florence Williams, visit her website at http://www.florencewilliams.com/the-nature-fix/.

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Chinook Trekker Snowshoes: Perfect for Beginners https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/10/09/chinook-trekker-snowshoes-perfect-for-beginners/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/10/09/chinook-trekker-snowshoes-perfect-for-beginners/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 23:29:46 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=91711

Looking for good snowshoes but running low on cash? Don’t sweat it because Chinook has just the thing. This is a perfect opportunity to buy decent snowshoes at a more than affordable price. On top of that, all the essential … Continue reading

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Looking for good snowshoes but running low on cash? Don’t sweat it because Chinook has just the thing. This is a perfect opportunity to buy decent snowshoes at a more than affordable price. On top of that, all the essential snowshoe features are included.

Until it’s time for some serious upgrade, the Chinook Trekkers are excellent for beginners. Most professionals and experts recommend these snowshoes for those who are about to experience their first snow trekking adventure.

In fact, a lot of those professionals even have these awesome trekker snowshoes as part of their own snow gear.

Materials 

Chinook uses high-quality materials to provide comfort and safety. The frame is made of aluminum tubing that’s rather sturdy but still lightweight – the weight is around 4.3 lb, which is quite acceptable.

They feature UV resistant polyethylene, which will make sure that even the deep snow doesn’t bother the user. Also, the ergonomic design provides some extra comfort, which makes these snowshoes great for long walks in the snow.

Foot Securing and Crampons

Securing your feet properly is essential if you want to stay safe during snow adventures – if things go bad, you’ll have to count on your equipment to live up to the hype.

The Chinook Trekker snowshoes feature a simple ratchet foot securing system. The best example of it can be seen on rollerblades or most winter sports equipment. There are two heel straps and ratchet bindings for extra security, while heavy-duty crampons allow safe steps on the slopes.

The snowshoes feature both foot and heel aluminum crampon sets, which will help you stay sure-footed on your adventures. It also saves a bit on weight but when it comes to security, as having an aluminum heel and foot can significantly improve your posture on the snow. In icy conditions or steep terrain, the crampons are there to make sure the user can cope with whatever may come.

These snowshoes will surely provide good comfort and traction on packed snow. They are perfect for hiking and Nordic running. Those who enjoy majestic landscapes covered in snow will surely enjoy these snowshoes.

The Sum Up

The Chinook Trekker snowshoes are quite an affordable piece of winter sporting equipment that allows the users to hike for long periods while enjoying full comfort and safety. They come with the additional Velcro pole carriers, mesh ventilation, side handles, and a carry bag additionally fortified with backpack straps.

Strong and lightweight aluminum makes them perfect for comfortable walks on snow. A lot of winter equipment tends to be heavy and somewhat uncomfortable, but Chinook has addressed these issues quite well, without sacrificing durability.

The freeze-resistant polyethylene bindings and decking are pretty flexible even on extremely low temperatures and can be handled easily even with gloves on. These snowshoes were made to last and are absolutely worth the money. You can purchase these snowshoes at Chinook Technical Outdoor and the price varies from $48 to $108.

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TSL https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/10/07/tsl/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2018/10/07/tsl/#respond Mon, 08 Oct 2018 02:03:26 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=91933 Continue reading

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