Snowshoe Magazine https://www.snowshoemag.com The snowshoeing experience for snowshoers around the world: snowshoe racing, snowshoes, gear reviews, events, recreation, first-timers. Thu, 21 Nov 2019 14:00:32 -0700 en-US hourly 1 28162661 LAST CHANCE! 2019 Snowshoe Qualifiers for 2020 DION USSSA National Championships https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/20/last-chance-2019-snowshoe-qualifiers-for-2020-dion-usssa-national-championships/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/20/last-chance-2019-snowshoe-qualifiers-for-2020-dion-usssa-national-championships/#respond Wed, 20 Nov 2019 20:04:58 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=94342 Aren’t you chomping on the bit to qualify for the 2020 National Snowshoe Championships?

The 2020 national event will be held February 28-March 1 in the famous town of Leadville, Colorado, which is the home of the epic Leadville Continue reading

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Aren’t you chomping on the bit to qualify for the 2020 National Snowshoe Championships?

The 2020 national event will be held February 28-March 1 in the famous town of Leadville, Colorado, which is the home of the epic Leadville Trail 100. It will be here before you can say, “Go!”

snowshoe race: 2018 Mendota 5K

Finishing the inaugural 2018 Mendota 5K Run/Snowshoe Race

Last Qualifying Races in 2019

Minnesota hosts the only two qualifiers left in 2019 for the 2020 DION Snowshoes United States Snowshoe Association  Championships. Check out these two 2019 races to get you ready to rock for nationals.

In 2020, there are many other qualifiers—28 with all their data logged in at the USSSA site. Races are held from West Virginia to Alaska, from Saranac, New York, to Phillips, Wisconsin, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Sandpoint, Idaho. There are plenty of choices after the new year.

Recap of Ritter Farm Qualifying For National Snowshoe Championships 

But, go ahead, get in the groove, and qualify early. Join the 200+ trail runners who ran for qualifying on Saturday, November 16, at the inaugural Ritter Farm Trail Runs.

Ritter Farm Race 2019: Snowshoe Racing

Crossing the bridge near the archery range on the Ritter Farm Race Trails (Yes, there were no arrows this day.) Photo courtesy of Jeff Larson

There, Mason Sullivan, a 14-year-old star, zipped the hilly five miles in 33.14. Plus, Roxanne Ready gave Master runners something to crow about, winning the overall women’s class. The race is a looped course, and some chose to run two or three laps.

Two women took the top two overall slots in the two-loop race: Maggie Marx at 1:15 and Katie Zirbes in 1:32. Masters racer Craig Hagensick took first in the male category.

There’s no other way to put this, so here it is: Dan Laplante scorched the three loops event with 6:48 miles. Kerrie Rubadue won the women’s class by four minutes. So much fun had by all!

Ritter Farm 2019

Staying Warm! Ritter Trail Races 2019. Photo courtesy of Jeff Larson

Last Two Races: Mendota Trail Run and Snowshoe 5K 

On Sunday, December 8, 2019, the Mendota Trail Run and Snowshoe 5K in St. Paul, MN, will serve as qualifiers for the US National Snowshoe Championships.

Mendota 5K 2018: Snowshoe Racing

The Man in Green streaks to a 2018 Mendota 5K finish

Many runners in the event will add a second qualifying race to their list, with some racing their first. However, either the trail run or snowshoe 5k qualifies you for the national championship events, and maybe the opportunity to earn it the old-fashioned way by wearing snowshoes.

In the 2018 race, a nice snow remained on the trails so one could race with snowshoes or running shoes. Either snowshoes or running shoes qualify you for the nationals if you finish the course, and each style has separate awards. Registration is $30 until Dec 7th and $35 on race day.

The Mendota Trail Run and Snowshoe 5K, now in its second year, are a Mountain Goat Running event. Both Mendota races provide funds to help maintain the Ft. Snelling State Park trails. How timely, too, as the park received devastating floods from last season’s heavy snows and rain. Race Director Sam Rush carries years of experience, so the race itself goes smoothly.

Mendota 5k 2018: Snowshoe Racing

Happy Finishers at Mendota 5k 2018

Additionally, plenty of parking on Picnic Island lowers the hassle factor. The race headquarters “A” Lodge boasts a big, hearty fire, generating warmth along with warm-hearted athletes as preparations stir before the start. A fast course, mostly flat, encourages quick times for competitors. Maybe set your PR here.

The after-race festivities continue at Lucky’s 13 Pub that serves a grand breakfast with a drink voucher, too.

Mendota Trail Race Beanie

As RD Sam Rush calls it, “A sweet beanie!” and it’s warm, too, with an inner liner.

After finishing, take your swag (including this sweet beanie) and wear it proudly at Lucky’s. Plus, you can wear it at all three days at the DION USSSA National Snowshoe Championships on February 28-March 1, 2020, in Leadville, Colorado.

Don’t miss this chance to race a national qualifier before Christmas and close out the calendar year in style.

(Ritter Farm Race Photos courtesy Jeff Larkin)

Write: Phillip@ultrasuperior.com

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Snowshoeing For Seniors: Into Your 70’s and Beyond https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/18/snowshoeing-for-seniors-into-your-70s-and-beyond/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/18/snowshoeing-for-seniors-into-your-70s-and-beyond/#comments Mon, 18 Nov 2019 17:56:30 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=93968 Hulda Crooks put on her 25-pound backpack and headed out in the early morning to climb Mt. Whitney, a mountain reaching 14,505 feet (4421 m). She had climbed it 23 times before. According to reports, Hulda also claimed many other … Continue reading

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Hulda Crooks put on her 25-pound backpack and headed out in the early morning to climb Mt. Whitney, a mountain reaching 14,505 feet (4421 m). She had climbed it 23 times before. According to reports, Hulda also claimed many other mountains, including San Gorgonio Mountain, at 11,503 feet (3506 m). She had climbed it 30 times and currently holds a record of climbing 97 peaks in total.

However, the amazing aspect of the Hulda Crooks story is that she had climbed Mt. Whitney for the first time at the age of 66. And she is considered to be the oldest woman to climb Mt. Fuji at age 91. As a health educator at California’s Loma Linda University, Hulda lived a very long and healthy life and died at the age of 101 in 1997.

Ms. Crooks’ story is undoubtedly an inspiration for anyone in their senior years. And although she was a mountain climber and hiker, her message of taking on challenges later in life transfers to those of us seniors who are interested in snowshoeing.

Jim Joque on bench

The author approaching 70 says, “I now snowshoe slower, I don’t go as far, and my muscles ache more. But I will continue snowshoeing.”

Much of my active snowshoeing life started when I was in my early 40’s. But it recently dawned on me that during the first week of January 2020, I will turn 70 years of age. Yikes! Where has the time gone? They say time goes by when having fun. I must have been having a blast these last few decades.

I have come to realize that turning 70 does not mean I need to curtail my snowshoeing activity. However, I do admit that I now snowshoe slower, I don’t go as far, and my muscles ache more.

Snowshoeing authors Sally Edwards and Melissa McKenzie say that age is not a factor for snowshoeing and writes, “If you can walk, you can snowshoe.”As long as I can walk and know whether I’m coming and going, I will continue snowshoeing. And people 70 and beyond interested in the sport should also snowshoe.

Read More: Snowshoeing For Beginners: The First-Timer’s Guide

Why Seniors Should Snowshoe

What are the reasons for senior citizens to participate in snowshoeing? The Outdoor Foundation’s 2018 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report noted from their key findings that “the biggest motivator for outdoor participation was getting exercise.” So let’s start there.

Exercise, keeping fit and healthy

Plenty of evidence supports that a lack of exercise combined with a poor diet in older adults can contribute to obesity and a variety of diseases. These may include diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, some cancers, and more. Thus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that regular physical activity is vital for healthy aging.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines for older Americans recommend “150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of each per week.”

The National Institute on Aging recommends four types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. They also have Go4Life videos with a personal trainer helping older adults exercise.

If an older person is looking for exercise and an aerobic workout in winter, an excellent way to accomplish that objective is by snowshoeing. A leisure hike on snowshoes provides great exercise. Additionally, you can pick up the pace or hike in deeper snow until your heart rate increases. After an extended period, your trek will provide an aerobic workout.

Read More: Building & Maintaining Endurance For Snowshoeing

seniors snowshoeing in Wisconsin

Seniors taking a snowshoe challenge at Devils Lake State Park in central Wisconsin

Something to do outdoors in winter 

I hear many Wisconsinites my age complain that they have nothing to do outdoors during winter due to the cold and snow. When I ask them if they are involved in any outdoor winter recreation, most are not. I recommend they give snowshoeing a try because of its simplicity, low cost, and no need to travel far to do so.

In my area of Wisconsin, there are places nearby to rent snowshoes, take a lesson, and hike on groomed trails. Should someone try it and like it, they can invest in a quality pair of snowshoes for around $100 to $200.

Experience adventure 

Every time I put on my snowshoes and head out on a hike, it is an adventure. Plus, a snowshoe hike in a location I’ve never visited is exciting. The planning and anticipation of the terrain, vegetation, wildlife, and challenges keep me in suspense and provide a new adventure for me to experience.

Midwest environmentalist and author, Sigurd Olson, once said, “When you lose the power of wonder, you’ve become old no matter how old you are. If you have the power of wonder, you’re forever young.” I don’t ever want to lose the sense of wonder.  I am convinced that a sense of wonder and a desire to experience adventure will keep me forever young at heart.

Appreciation of nature

Snowshoeing down a trail through a stand of conifers laden with snow enhances my aesthetic appreciation of nature. All the sights, sounds, and smells of woodlands, meadows, or mountain trails come alive when hiking on snow in winter. My appreciation of nature is even stronger in my senior years. Time and experience have taught me how to appreciate it more than when I was younger.

senior snowshoeing

Snowshoeing through a stand of conifers laden with snow enhances an appreciation of nature

Sense of accomplishment and self-worth

Going on 70 and retired, I look for things to do that give me a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Since I no longer achieve those attributes for a job well done as I once did in the workplace, I strive to find them in post-retirement challenges. A snowshoeing challenge and writing an article to tell you, the reader, about it will do it for me. Perhaps other seniors who snowshoe may discover accomplishment and self-worth in their adventures.

Tips For Heading Out On The Trail

Now that you know the reasons why seniors should snowshoe, here are some recommendations to consider when planning to head out on the trail. Keep in mind that safety is a priority, and prevention is a must.

See Your Doctor First

It is proper prevention to have your physician give you a clean bill of health before heading out on snowshoes. Some people tend to overestimate their health and physical condition. Set up a time for a checkup.

Be Consistent With Your Health

As previously mentioned, physical activity is vital for healthy aging. However, sitting around waiting for snowshoe season to begin is like trying to start your car after it has sat in the garage for a long time. Consistent activity and exercise during the 3-seasons help to prepare for snowshoeing in winter. Also, eat healthy, since diet is important as well for keeping in shape.

Stay Within Your Limits

Set your goals to be within your limits. Outdoor expert and author Karen Berger once wrote, “Hiking is physically challenging. And age sooner or later slows everyone down.” She adds, “Like any other hikers, seniors need to set mileage goals that are consistent with their stamina, personality, and fitness.”

There is no sense in taking risks by setting unrealistic goals when snowshoeing. Set a realistic pace and distance. For example, you could snowshoe about a mile in 40 minutes on a snow-packed trail since an average hiking speed on flatland is about one mile in 30 minutes.

Know Your Bearings

Become familiar with where you are snowshoeing. Keep away from high ridges, cliffs, outcroppings, and overhangs. Unlike solid earth or rock, snow can give way when not supported underneath. It is not worth the risk to snowshoe out further on a cliff for a better view or to take a picture. People have died doing so. Also, avoid snowshoeing on frozen water, especially creeks and rivers. Moving water does not freeze, so find an alternative route.

Be Prepared With a Daypack

When heading out for a day of snowshoeing, carry items in a daypack for safety and comfort. Such items include:

seniors with hiking poles

There are benefits from using hiking poles when snowshoeing

Bring Along Hiking Poles

Everyone can benefit from using hiking poles, especially us seniors. Poles help with balance, stability, momentum while ascending, and ease of impact on the knees when descending. I prefer my anti-shock, collapsible aluminum Komperdell hiking staff. Some friends of mine prefer using dual poles. It is all a matter of preference.

Read More: Snowshoeing Education 305: Are Two Poles Better Than One?

Stay Safe With Winter Survival Skills

Learn basic first aid. Know what to do in the event of frostbite, hypothermia, or injury. Also, learn what to do if you get lost or stranded, including building a shelter and starting a fire. These are basic winter survival skills that everyone should develop no matter what age.

Dress Appropriately

Finally, wear appropriate winter clothing and dress in layers. Use waterproof and breathable items, including jacket, boots or hikers, gloves or mittens, and caps.

Read More: Snowshoeing Dress Code: What Clothing To Wear

Go Out And Snowshoe!

The above suggestions can help make snowshoeing for people in their senior years a more enjoyable experience by being better prepared to meet the challenge. Keep in mind that you do not need an invitation to snowshoe. All that is required is an ability to walk, a healthy and positive attitude, a pair of snowshoes, and snow.

For those seniors who have snowshoes, do not give them away or put them away. Keep them out for this coming season. And for those who have never snowshoed before, take a lesson from Hulda Crooks, who met her first major mountain challenge at age 66. You can achieve your first snowshoe challenge now. So, snowshoe into your 70’s and beyond. And perhaps, snowshoe where no one has gone before.


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7 Typical Backcountry Snowshoeing Mistakes and Tips To Avoid Them https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/14/7-typical-backcountry-snowshoeing-mistakes-and-tips-to-avoid-them/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/14/7-typical-backcountry-snowshoeing-mistakes-and-tips-to-avoid-them/#respond Thu, 14 Nov 2019 18:01:47 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=94301 Winter is a wonderful time of the year to acquire new perspectives on areas you have been to and to find new ones. The cold should not deter you! Snowshoeing allows us to explore well-trafficked areas and areas off the … Continue reading

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Winter is a wonderful time of the year to acquire new perspectives on areas you have been to and to find new ones. The cold should not deter you! Snowshoeing allows us to explore well-trafficked areas and areas off the beaten path. However, snowshoeing in the backcountry can present itself with a few unique challenges. To help get you onto the right path and ensure you’re well prepared, we’ve listed 7 common mistakes people make when they first start, along with some backcountry snowshoeing tips to combat these mistakes.

1. Not Starting Small

Many snowshoers excited to try out the backcountry will start with a long snowshoe trek. However, this is one of the biggest mistakes for first-timers in the backcountry. Instead, make sure you start small, as winter in the backcountry can be dynamic and sometimes harsh. Deep snow, which is often found in the backcountry, also requires more physical effort. You need to be prepared!  Before leaping into a 10-mile trek, examine your skill and comfort level first by doing a shorter 1-2 mile or so trek.

If you are new to snowshoeing in general, begin with treks in light snow. That way you can practice winter hiking to help get you comfortable with the colder conditions. Once you are more familiar with winter hiking and comfortable on shorter treks, the stress of backcountry snowshoeing in tough conditions will decrease. Plus, the more ready you are for backcountry snowshoeing, the better time you will have, and the safer you will be!

Read More: First-Timers: How To Choose The Best Trail For Your Next Winter Adventure

backcountry snowshoeing

It’s imperative to be prepared when snowshoeing in the backcountry. Photo by Alec Moore on Unsplash

2. Failing to Bring Proper Navigation Equipment for Trail Finding

If you are snowshoeing on a heavily-trafficked trail, finding the trail can be easy.
However, with backcountry snowshoeing, it is crucial to bring a compass and a map. You also need to make sure you know how to use them. Another alternative backcountry snowshoeing tip to investigate is a GPS device. Because snowshoeing is a winter sport, snow can cover a trail that would be easy to spot in the summertime. Snow can also cover any kind of landmarks that you are using for navigation.

3. Your Winter Gear Is Not Appropriate for the Weather

Winter is obviously colder than summer. If you are only used to doing summer sports, you may need to invest in new gear to combat the elements (see mistake 5).

Snowshoes that have a more advanced traction system, such as MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes, are best for backcountry trekking. An advanced traction system may include toe, heel, and potentially side traction. Many snowshoes also come with a heel bar to help leverage your foot on steep climbs.

tent in snow

Make sure to bring the appropriate gear! Photo by David Schultz on Unsplash

Besides your backcountry snowshoes, here are some tips for basic gear to collect for a day-trip into the backcountry snowshoeing adventure.

If you are planning a trip that will take you overnight in the backcountry, you will want a tent that is rated for 4-seasons and a sleeping bag that can handle low temperatures (usually below 0 degrees C).

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

4. Running Out of Food and Water

Food and water are an absolute priority when planning your snowshoeing trip into the backcountry. You will be exerting more energy than usual just to keep warm, and you are also doing physical exercise. Make sure to have enough carb and protein-heavy foods, even if you are only going out for the day.

Read More: Best Healthy Snacks To Take While Snowshoeing

backcountry snowshoeing

Be prepared for changing conditions in the backcountry. Photo by Jeff Kingma on Unsplash

5. Ill-Prepared for Cold Conditions

Cold conditions can cause several issues, including hypothermia and frostbite, if not prepared. Here are some helpful tips on how to stay warm in the winter, without just lighting a fire.

  • Make sure you layer correctly to maintain body heat
    • The first layer or base layer can be made of wool or synthetic materials to keep your heat close to your body.
    • A second layer or mid-layer will serve as your insulating layer and could include an inner shell or puffy down jacket. If the weather warms up, your mid-layer can serve as your outer layer.
    • A third layer or outer layer should be utilized in very cold weather. It should be waterproof, or at least resistant to water, and wind-resistant.
  • To help stay warm, you can also do a windmill motion with your arms.
  • Drink plenty of hot drinks, preferably through an insulating thermos, to keep your temperature up
  • If winter camping, putting clothes into your sleeping bag with you will help keep them warm and putting them on the next day won’t be such a drag!
  • Finally, if you ever get your base layer wet, change it right away!

Read More:
Snowshoeing, Snow Camping & Snowstorms
Survival Tips For Snowshoeing Enthusiasts

6. Not Respecting the Leave No Trace Principles

Make sure you follow outdoor ethics. The environment and ecosystems that you will be trekking through are depending on it! If you bring it in, pack it out. Different topography and climates have different demands. If you’re backcountry snowshoeing in a national park, check the park website ahead of time for any special tips and requirements.

7. Not Educated in Avalanche Awareness

When you are backcountry snowshoeing, avalanche awareness is non-negotiable. You need to educate yourself on the cause and effects of avalanches, and where to look out for them. For example, slopes between 30 and 45 degrees have the highest avalanche risk. It’s imperative to make sure you’re not snowshoeing in the avalanche run-off territory below a peak with avalanche risk. An avalanche awareness course is recommended for all backcountry snowshoers.

backcountry snowshoeing

Measure slope degree as one precaution to help spot avalanche terrain. Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

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Celebrate A Mountain Christmas in the Canadian Rockies https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/13/celebrate-a-mountain-christmas-in-the-canadian-rockies/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/13/celebrate-a-mountain-christmas-in-the-canadian-rockies/#respond Wed, 13 Nov 2019 20:42:04 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=94039 The Christmas season comes early to the Canadian Rockies with the arrival of Santa Claus in Banff mid-November. By this point the mountains are already blanketed in snow, ski resorts are starting to open, and high elevation trails are prime … Continue reading

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The Christmas season comes early to the Canadian Rockies with the arrival of Santa Claus in Banff mid-November. By this point the mountains are already blanketed in snow, ski resorts are starting to open, and high elevation trails are prime for winter hiking.

family with Santa in Banff

Meet Santa Claus on top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff! (Christmas card photo, check!)

Greet the Christmas Season this November in Banff

Are you feeling the Christmas spirit early this year? Banff has a plethora of Christmas activities and scenery for you to explore this November.

1. Banff Santa Claus Parade of Lights

Kick start the Christmas season with the Banff Santa Claus Parade of Lights, held this year (2019) on November 16th. The parade starts at 6 pm on Banff Avenue and you’ll want to arrive early to get a good spot to watch the parade along the route.

Banff Parade of Lights

Greet the Christmas season at the Banff Santa Claus Parade of Lights

2. Banff Gondola’s Mountain Top Christmas

During the day, I recommend getting into the Christmas spirit with a hike up Sulphur Mountain in the Town of Banff. At the top, you can participate in the Banff Gondola’s Mountain Top Christmas festivities. It takes most people less than two hours to climb the 2300 feet (701 m) to the upper station. Plus, if you hike up, it’s free to ride the gondola down.

Mountaintop Christmas activities include visits with Santa, cookie decorating for the kids, and a fun holiday movie in the interpretive center’s theatre.

top of Banff Gondola

Winter is glorious on top of the Banff Gondola!

3. Take A Scenic Hike For Holiday Photos In The Canadian Rockies

Spend the weekend in Banff and you can drive out to Lake Minnewanka for a scenic hike along the lakeshore.  Alternately, enjoy a beautiful hike through Johnston Canyon. The views are great for photos. We’ve taken Christmas card photos in previous years in front of frozen waterfalls.

4. Spread The Holiday Spirit 

Fun and play bring that holiday cheer to others. Search for frozen lakes for a game of pond hockey. Several lakes near Banff freeze early before they become snow-covered. Popular choices include the Vermilion Lakes, Johnson Lake, and Two Jack Lake.

5. Apres Up

Warm up after your adventures at Banff Hot Springs. These hot pools stay open late, making this an ideal way to end the day after the Santa Claus Parade.

6. Shop At The Banff Christmas Market

Wrap up your weekend with some shopping for mountain-themed Christmas presents for friends and family members back home. Spend some time at the Banff Christmas Market, which is held on the weekends of November 15th – 17th and November 22nd – 24th for 2019.

Koob family with Santa hats

Make your hikes around Banff more festive by wearing Santa hats for the perfect photo op.

7. Enjoy Early Season Snow At Sunshine Village Ski Resort In The Canadian Rockies

Sunshine Village always opens early November for either skiing or snowshoeing. Wrap up your day with cheese fondue at the Chimney Corner in the Sunshine Mountain Lodge. Alternatively, spend the night at the lodge to enjoy their slopeside hot tub.

8. Take a day trip to Lake Louise (Sleigh Ride, Anyone?) 

Enjoy ice skating on Lake Louise, one of the most beautiful outdoor skating rinks in the world. You can hike across the lake to see frozen waterfalls, enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride around the lake, or sign up for a dog sledding tour. If you’re still not completely in the Christmas spirit, drop into the Chateau Lake Louise for afternoon tea. Then, walk around to marvel in the beautiful decorations around the resort.

Ice skating on Lake Louise, Banff

Take a day trip to Lake Louise and glide around one of the world’s most beautiful skating rinks

Celebrate an Authentic Rocky Mountain Christmas in Kananaskis Country

Located only 20 minutes away from Banff, The Town of Canmore is the gateway to Kananaskis Country. Here you can celebrate an authentic Rocky Mountain Christmas and escape for a wilderness getaway.

1. View Inspiring Christmas Decorations At Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

Christmas is my favourite time to visit Kananaskis Village and the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge. I finish many of my December hikes or ski outings in front of the cozy fireplace inside the lodge with a hot cup of coffee and some freshly baked cookies.

The lodge has some of the best Christmas decorations in the Canadian Rockies. You’ll definitely want to take photos in front of their Christmas tree! In previous years they’ve also had giant gingerbread houses which is always a hit with the children.

Christmas at Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

Christmas is magical at the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge

2. Apres At The Kananaskis Nordic Spa In The Canadian Rockies

The Kananaskis Nordic Spa is an apres paradise. This incredible spa features a relaxation lodge, five outdoor pools, five steam and sauna cabins, and an exfoliation room. In addition, there are winterized hammocks, fireside lounges, eight treatment rooms, massage therapists, and a bistro (which you can visit in your bathrobe without leaving the spa.) Note that the spa is for adults 18+ and that you don’t have to be staying at the resort to use the spa. Expect possible wait times to enter if you visit on a weekend.

3. Visit The Troll With A Hike To Frozen Troll Falls

Troll Falls trail is a popular outing for local families from Calgary. It’s a short 2-mile return hike if you start from the Stoney Trailhead below Kananaskis Village. You can also hike to the falls from the Village if you want a longer outing.

Troll Falls, Kananaskis

The short hike to Troll Falls is a family-favorite near Kananaskis Village

4. Spend Time With Family And Friends In Kananaskis Village

Explore the snowshoe trails around Kananaskis Village or enjoy ice skating on the pond. You can rent snowshoes and ice skates from Kananaskis Outfitters, conveniently located beside the pond.

5. Take A Day Trip For Some Excellent Snowshoeing, Winter Hiking, and Relaxing

First, take a day trip to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. To reach the park, drive south on Highway 40 for approx 50 km (30 mi) until you come to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Here, you’ll find several options for snowshoe hikes including my favorite, Rawson Lake.

Rawson Lake- Kananaskis

Rawson lake is one of our favorite snowshoe trails in Kananaskis Country

As an alternative or in addition to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, take a day trip to the Spray Lakes Valley in Kananaskis.  From Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, turn on to the Spray Lakes Road, Highway 742, and drive north towards Canmore.

In this valley, you’ll find some of the best winter hikes in Kananaskis including the trails to Chester Lake and Rummel Lake, two of my favorites.

Rummel Lake- Kananaskis

Enjoy a scenic hike to Rummel Lake and then warm up with afternoon tea at Mount Engadine Lodge

If you make it to Rummel Lake, make sure you stop in at Mount Engadine Lodge. Apres after your hike with an afternoon tea which consists of a decadent charcuterie platter and desserts. The lodge is always nicely decorated for Christmas and I guarantee you won’t want to leave once you settle in beside the fireplace.

You may also decide that you’d like to spend a night or two at Mount Engadine Lodge. If so, you can read more about this incredible place (including their new glamping tents) in Choosing Your own Adventure in the Canadian Rockies.

Visit The Canadian Rockies This Christmas

Overall, Banff and Kananaskis in the Canadian Rockies are the perfect holiday getaways. Visit Santa, shop for family and friends, and then explore the gorgeous surrounding area for photos, while sharing holiday cheer with friends and family.

Koob family snowshoeing

Pick a destination and go exploring in the Canadian Rockies this  Christmas

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Winter Recreation Therapy for Injured U.S. Veterans https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/11/winter-recreation-therapy-for-injured-u-s-veterans/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/11/winter-recreation-therapy-for-injured-u-s-veterans/#respond Mon, 11 Nov 2019 17:07:04 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=93970 More doctors might be prescribing outdoor recreational therapy instead of Xanax if the proposed federal legislation entitled the Outdoor Recreation Therapy for Veterans Act (HR 2435) passes. Studies are showing evidence that outdoor recreational activities can be therapeutic.

I met … Continue reading

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More doctors might be prescribing outdoor recreational therapy instead of Xanax if the proposed federal legislation entitled the Outdoor Recreation Therapy for Veterans Act (HR 2435) passes. Studies are showing evidence that outdoor recreational activities can be therapeutic.

I met Veterans Ray Gilmore and David Binford recently at a ski industry meeting. We discussed the Azimuth Check Foundation, which provides injured veterans and first responders challenging year-round athletic activities to create wellness in an atmosphere of camaraderie. They noted, “Whether these Vets have seen or unseen injuries, they can find peace in the outdoors.”

They feel that participation in activities such as snowshoeing, alpine and Nordic skiing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, cycling, indoor rock climbing, wood carving and art, aquatics, golf, water skiing, stand up paddleboarding, archery, and even bowling will build self- esteem and accomplishment.

Providing Support Through Recreation

There are some Veterans and first responders who have experienced visual impairments, amputations, and other physical and mental challenges. To support these veterans, some have discovered organizations that orchestrate recreational activities. These activities can positively impact their independence, well-being, and whole health through adaptive recreation therapy programs.

US flag with snowy mountain in background

Photo by Adam Smotkin on Unsplash

Azimuth partners with other organizations such as the Veterans Adaptive Sports and Training, Adaptive Sports of the North Country, Ability Plus Adaptive Sports, Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports, and Northeast Passage.

Support Outside Of An Office

Misha Pemble-Belkin of Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports Veterans Ventures program commented, “I’ve taken anti-depressants and done talk therapy, but nothing I tried has worked – it was like my brain was still at war.”  Instead, this real-world/real-time approach is different than working with healthcare providers in an office setting. They create solutions for active and engaged living, which takes the guesswork out of what happens when you go home or are discharged from care.

The program employs certified and licensed recreation therapist practitioners. The practitioners have a strong history of working with individuals across the disability spectrum. Participants in the programs may include individuals with physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities, and behavioral health needs.

Gilmore talked about difficulty “shutting the motor off whereby the adrenaline remains and has become toxic.” The recreational activities provided by these organizations help to create new memories and meaningful relationships. Besides physical challenges, many Vets face post-traumatic stress (PTSD), combat fatigue, or shell shock. While stigma may remain about this condition, more Veterans are now acknowledging it and seeking help.

An Engaging Alternative 

Some program participants express that they’ve have had enough of meds and therapy (for example, cognitive behavioral therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, acceptance commitment therapy, etc.). As an alternative, recreational therapy programs can include problem-solving and a collaborative, strengths-based approach for veterans. They provide a camaraderie supported transition, relevant and meaningful goals, and help develop sustainable healthy behavior.

Trauma-focused psychotherapies are the most recommended treatment for PTSD. These treatments focus on the memory of the traumatic event and its meaning. They are intended to help people process the traumatic experience. Clients visualize and talk or think about the memory to change towards helpful beliefs about the trauma. A recommendation is often eight to sixteen sessions.

One Vet referred to taking “meds” for his troubles. He noted that the meds made him feel like a “zombie” and took away the passion and joy of life. However, the veteran also commented that participating in recreational programs and outdoor activities such as snowshoeing, skiing, hiking, and rock climbing has helped to instill periods of passion and joy in his life.

How Does Outdoor Recreation Therapy Work?

At Northeast Passage, a recreation therapist (RT) will meet with an individual to complete an initial assessment.  During this assessment, the RT talks about health conditions, interests, personal strengths, and local resources.  Then, they will use standardized assessment tools as part of a collaborative process. They identify goals and a plan for achieving them while working together.

Additionally, they use follow-up appointments to work on achieving these goals. During these appointments, the vet and RT will be in the community actively engaged in recreation. Thus, they’ll likely be creating community connections, learning about equipment, and developing skills. Also, they’re developing aspects of themselves, which support continued active participation and a healthier experience.

Recreational Program Activities For Veterans

Kristina Sabasteanski, an Army Veteran, runs programs at Pineland Farms’ Veterans Adaptive Sports & Training in southern Maine. Pineland Farms offers year-round programming for Veterans with disabilities. She stated, “Last year we took Veterans and volunteers to Maine Huts and Trails in Kingsfield, ME. It was -9 F the day we left to go home, and there wasn’t a single complaint among the group. Sometimes the Vets crave challenges similar to what they experienced in the military (harsh winter conditions, strenuous activities, etc.).

“Our yearly Biathlon Camp had 16 Veterans with disabilities – ranging from SCI [spinal cord injury], amputations, blindness, PTSD, TBI [traumatic brain injury], and other orthopedic issues. Many had never even seen snow before the camp, and by the last day, they cross country skied and competed in a biathlon race against each other. These trips and activities with fellow Vets allow them to share their experiences in the military. [They] realize they are not alone in their struggles.”

Retired SGSG Misha Pemble-Belkin of Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports Veterans Ventures had 170 Vet participants for more than a thousand activities. They participated in winter sports such as skiing, XC skiing, and snowshoeing. It’s Vets helping Vets to learn these sports.

According to Pemble-Belkin, “There was a study of 1,200 Vets who were split into a group taking three of the major meds and a group taking a placebo. [They] showed similar results. While the war experience was stored in your brain, outdoor recreation can provide some joy and passion that is a relief to the miserable times being home alone or unengaged.”

For More Information

Azimuth Check Foundation: acfne@azimuthcheckfoundation.org

Pineland Farms VAST Program in southern Maine with Kristina Sabasteanski: Kristina@pinelandfarms.org

Northeast Passage in New Hampshire with David Lee: david.lee@unh.edu

Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports Veterans Ventures with Misha Pemble-Belkin:
veterans@vermontadaptive.org

A modified version of this article first appeared at XCskiresorts.com

Read Next: Adaptive Snowshoeing For Individuals With Disabilities

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Park Life In Kelvingrove: Glasgow’s Historical Urban Haven https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/10/park-life-in-kelvingrove-glasgows-historical-urban-haven/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/10/park-life-in-kelvingrove-glasgows-historical-urban-haven/#respond Mon, 11 Nov 2019 02:50:10 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=90101 Glasgow, Scotland, has an abundance of greenery and parks if you know where to look. In the shadow of Glasgow University, you’ll discover the 85 acres of Kelvingrove, a park that can be enjoyed in all seasons. The park … Continue reading

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fountain at Kelvingrove Park

The beautiful Stewart Memorial Fountain at Kelvingrove

Glasgow, Scotland, has an abundance of greenery and parks if you know where to look. In the shadow of Glasgow University, you’ll discover the 85 acres of Kelvingrove, a park that can be enjoyed in all seasons. The park is famed for its herbaceous, Rhododendron and Azalea borders, which needless to say come alive in the warmer months.

From the outset, it’s fair to say the park has a few hills. Glasgow was built on them, but Kelvingrove more than makes up for that with its awesome views once you’ve made the climb.

Fortunately, it’s not all steep inclines. Because of its location on the Kelvin river, there is an abundance of urban wildlife. You’ll often see kingfishers, grey herons, mallards, cormorants, foxes, and even otters are sometimes seen.

The History of Kelvingrove Park

To complement the views and activities (listed below), there’s a fair amount of history attached to Kelvingrove Park. It dates from 1852 when it was originally The West End Park. Since then, it has been host to three exhibitions, where countries and cultures were able to showcase their achievements. The exhibitions were the International Exhibition in 1888 and 1901, and the Scottish Exhibition in 1911.

Monuments & Statues

Highland Light Infantry Memorial - Glasgow

The Highland Light Infantry Memorial, one of the many memorials in Kelvingrove

If you want to learn some history while exploring, Kelvingrove Park has several historical monuments.

The most prominent is the Stewart Memorial Fountain, which was built in 1872. This impressive structure was made to commemorate the city’s then Lord Provost, Robert Stewart, and is topped off with a figure of The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott.

The fountain was refurbished a few years ago at a cost of half a million pounds and is definitely worth a photo stop. Interestingly, the Doulton Fountain at the other end of the city, on Glasgow Green, was also once a centrepiece at Kelvingrove.

Other notable historical figures are honored with numerous statues located in the park. Writer Thomas Carlyle, physicist Lord Kelvin, and eminent chemist and surgeon Joseph Lister are among them.

Beautiful Landscapes

As you’re perusing the historical landmarks in the area, the landscape of Kelvingrove Park will present its own photo opportunities. Three beautiful and historic bridges cross the River Kelvin as it meanders through the park.

The Snow Bridge, which was built in 1800, is possibly the oldest – aside from Maryhill Aqueduct further upstream. It has a simple span of three arches.

The Prince of Wales Bridge, which was built in 1868, was originally made from timber. However, this was replaced with a granite and red sandstone version in 1895.

The ‘youngest’ of the three bridges is the Kelvin Way Bridge –  a single arch sandstone span dating from 1914. Its parapets are topped with ornate figures by sculptor Paul Raphael Montford.

Full of Activities

Since Kelvingrove is open year-round, there are plenty of activities available within and surrounding the park.

Summer Activities

Kelvingrove Park- Glasgow, Scotland

Many visitors enjoy the park’s open space!

The summer receives less rain on average than the winter months, 3-5 cm (1-2 in), and temperatures average from 8-18 C (46-64 F). Thus, on a warm sunny day, the park is very popular with families, cyclists, dog walkers, and joggers.

However, don’t be put off by the popularity. Thanks to an abundance of trees, there are plenty of quiet, shady corners. Best of all, they’re not difficult to find. You won’t be short of large areas of grass to stretch out.

Although the park is close to Glasgow’s west end, it still manages to retain a strong element of peace and quiet. Yes, you’ll hear traffic, but nothing too heavy.

For those keen on something a little more active, there is a croquet lawn, five bowling greens, and a skatepark. There are also four tennis courts, an orienteering course, and three play parks for young children.

Winter Activities

In winter, Glasgow can receive 2.5-7.5 cm (1-3 in) on average. But every few years, such as 2017 and 2018, there can be snowstorms and heavy snowfall. The snow melts fairly quickly but when it’s on the ground, residents of all ages can enjoy Kelvingrove’s vast open spaces. Sledding, snowball fights, and even snowshoeing opportunities abound! Temperatures average between 1-6 C (33-42 F), so make sure to bundle up. When it’s not snowing, Glasgow can receive heavy rains averaging 9 cm (3.5 in) between Oct-Mar.

In the winter, you can still wander the superb riverside walks. The park was awarded the Green Flag in 2012, a benchmark of quality for green spaces, and it’s not hard to understand why.

The park’s design is a classic example of a Victorian park and you couldn’t get a better mix of greenery with the elegant and opulent buildings that surround it.

Read More: Snowshoeing in Lochaber, Scotland

Surrounded by Elegance

Just off Kelvin Way, which runs next to and through the park, sits the Bandstand. The Bandstand is an elegant venue that was built in 1924. Although used regularly for concerts of various forms, including military bands and music hall acts, it fell victim to vandalizing in the mid-’90s. One of its claims to fame, however, was the first-ever Steel Band Festival. It has since been restored – to the tune of £2 million – and has gradually regained its place as a regular venue.

The Bandstand- Glasgow, Scotland

Overlooking the Bandstand, a popular music venue in Kelvingrove

Additionally, within the park’s boundaries is the magnificent Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This impressive structure recently underwent a £28 million restoration and is well worth a visit.

Within the art gallery, among many famed exhibits, is Salvador Dali’s ‘Christ of St. John on the Cross’ an awesome and inspiring work of art. Another past exhibit, suspended from the ceiling, is a World War 2 Spitfire. Both works of art are supreme examples of the wide variety of artistic elements on display.

Overall

The plethora of history and monuments, beautiful landscape and range of activities is really what makes Kelvingrove Park. It’s a space for the whole family to explore, indulge in local history or just unwind. In this particular case, you have Sir Joseph Paxton – Head Gardener at Chatsworth House – to thank. And it’s a sobering thought that in today’s money, the purchase price of the land on which the park stands is around £8 million. And plenty would say it’s worth every penny.

All photographs by Nigel Boney

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Slide Into Backcountry Snowboarding This Season on Snowshoes https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/05/backcountry-snowboarding-using-snowshoes/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/05/backcountry-snowboarding-using-snowshoes/#comments Tue, 05 Nov 2019 13:37:23 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=93922 Backcountry riding is one of the fastest-growing winter sports. But for many interested in snowboarding off-piste, immediately plunking down big bucks for a splitboard isn’t feasible. Fortunately, there’s a tried and true solution for snowboarders who want to experience the Continue reading

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Backcountry riding is one of the fastest-growing winter sports. But for many interested in snowboarding off-piste, immediately plunking down big bucks for a splitboard isn’t feasible. Fortunately, there’s a tried and true solution for snowboarders who want to experience the backcountry without a splitboard: using snowshoes! Read on to discover why snowshoes might be the solution for getting into the backcountry. Also, we provide a few tips to keep you safe once you get there. 

snowboarding on Mount Washington

Snowboarding on Mount Washington

Beating the Backcountry Barrier Without A Splitboard

One of the biggest barriers facing backcountry-curious snowboarders is cost. For many riders, touring-specific snowboards called splitboards are prohibitively expensive. It’s easy to spend close to a $1,000 on just a board, nevermind other essentials like bindings and skins.

Unlike renting skis at the resort, finding a splitboard to demo is challenging. Snowshoes help break down this barrier, allowing you to use your existing board, bindings, and boots. Using snowshoes instead of a splitboard for backcountry snowboarding makes it a much more affordable endeavor. 

Outside the Resort Made Easy   

Simplicity is another characteristic of snowshoes that makes them ideal for newer backcountry snowboarders. Unlike splitboards, which require tricky assembly and disassembly when transitioning between the ascent and descent, snowshoers simply detach their snowshoes and stow them in their pack.

Moreover, the walking-like movement pattern of snowshoeing is already familiar, unlike the kicking and gliding motion that splitboarders employ for skinning uphill. The advantages of snowshoes over a splitboard allows novice backcountry riders to focus on factors they don’t need to consider while riding at the resort—such as weather, snow conditions, and layering.

backcountry snowboarding

Finding Fresh tracks

 Performance Pros Of Using Snowshoes Over A Splitboard

On most uphill terrain, a person with a splitboard has a performance advantage over a snowboarder with snowshoes. That changes, however, on steep terrain. The skins used to provide traction to splitboards when moving uphill lose their effectiveness between 20 and 30 degrees.

This loss of effectiveness means splitboarders in the backcountry need to criss-cross or, at times, boot their way up steeper slopes. Meanwhile, snowshoers can charge straight up the more precipitous pitches, especially on snowshoes with an advanced crampon system. 

The uphill advantage offered by snowshoes on steeper slopes has led to the development of hybrid ski/crampons such as the Snowfoot, while splitboarders and AT skiers turn to snowshoe-like Ascent Plates when the going gets steep.

Speaking of crampons, the aggressive crampon configurations found on backcountry snowshoes provide superior traction to splitboard crampons when snowboarding in the backcountry. Splitboard crampons typically place only a few teeth under the boarder’s foot. Alternatively, backcountry snowshoes can have multiple sets of crampons under the toe, heel, and side of the foot. 

Read More: Snowfoot: A Radical Snow Mobility Tool

Snowshoe Options for Backcountry Snowboarding 

Although any pair of snowshoes will get you into the backcountry, some snowshoes work better than others. Snowshoes that pack flat—with their crampons’ teeth facing each other and away from you (such as the MSR Lightning Ascent)—carry nicer and are less cumbersome to stow for the downhill than other style snowshoes. 

man with snowboard strapped to pack in the backcountry

On top of Massachusetts’s Mount Watatic

Snowshoe/Snowboard Safety 

Snowshoes enable access to crazy couloirs and amazing alpine bowls, but they also make it easy to wander into treacherous avalanche terrain. According to the National Avalanche Center, avalanches are possible on any slope steeper than 30 degrees and most common on slopes between 30 and 45 degrees. A backcountry snowboarder skinning on a splitboard or skis cannot easily ascend these slopes, but snowshoers can access these areas.

If you’re heading into avalanche terrain for backcountry snowboarding, consider beefing up your knowledge with a class such as American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) Level 1 and make sure to carry the essentials like beacon, probe, and shovel. 

Read More: Avalanche Awareness For Snowshoers

Other Essential Equipment 

Helmet

You (likely) have two arms and two legs, but only one head—so protect it with a helmet! The helmet you wear at the resort will transition to the backcountry. However, if your snowshoes are frequently taking you into more vertical terrain, consider a helmet certified for both skiing and climbing to protect against rocks and ice falling on you. A multipurpose helmet can protect you in the event of you crashing into something as well. 

Goggles

In the Northeast, where we’re based, trees and branches are often as dangerous as snow conditions, which makes packing goggles a great idea. The goggles you use at the resort also transition easily to the backcountry. But be aware that trees and going in and out of your pack can be tough on goggles. 

Poles

Collapsible ski/trekking poles are essential for snowshoeing in the backcountry; they aid in the ascent, help with balance, and are even useful for poling across flat sections on the descent. Tent-style poles collapse super small, allowing you to tuck them into your pack and out of harm’s way on the descent. 

Backcountry Backpack

There are numerous ways to attach a snowboard to a traditional backpack. However, a snowboard-specific pack will carry the board both more securely and more comfortable. A bag between 22 and 32 liters is ideal for day trips—for quick trips, check out the CamelBak Phantom LR 20. Don’t forget to fill it with the essentials, either. 

Dress for Success

Layering is a critical part of any backcountry outing, especially because it’s usually much warmer at the base than the summit. Packing layers that you can add as the temperature drops and a puffy jacket you can wear during breaks or in an emergency will go a long way toward helping you stay warm. A dry hat and an extra pair of warm mittens are often a welcome respite when it gets cold up high. 

Read More: Snowshoeing Dress Code- What Clothing To Wear

snowboarding

Backcountry Pow Day

Did snowshoes enable your first backcountry riding? We want to hear about your experience with backcountry snowboarding without a splitboard. Tell us in the comments!

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Snowshoeing Visualization & Coping With Cancer https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/03/snowshoeing-visualization-and-coping-with-cancer/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/11/03/snowshoeing-visualization-and-coping-with-cancer/#comments Sun, 03 Nov 2019 13:38:15 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=93829

White-clad medical technicians snapped metal bolts through the mesh mask to immobilize my head. Straps constrained my body to the table that would slide me into the radiotherapy machine.

The donut-shaped radiotherapy device emitted clunking noises like a worn-out laundry … Continue reading

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snow covered trees- Goodmacher

White-clad medical technicians snapped metal bolts through the mesh mask to immobilize my head. Straps constrained my body to the table that would slide me into the radiotherapy machine.

The donut-shaped radiotherapy device emitted clunking noises like a worn-out laundry machine.
Radiation would, in theory, kill a golf-ball-like tumor at the base of my tongue and a five-centimeter-long tumor beneath my right jaw bone.

I panicked. My chest shook like trees buffeted by typhoon winds.

Visualizations For Cancer Coping & Relief

Before entering the hospital, a friend suggested that I use visualization to deal with the hellish conditions to come. Trying to cope with cancer and what was next, I visualized my last snowshoeing trip with my wife and my faithful nature-loving dog.

dog in the snow - Goodmacher

My nature-loving dog enjoying the snow on one of our snowshoe trips

We walked into a tunnel of snow-bowed cedar. The wind pushed clumps of snow off branches. My black dog leaped to catch silver snowflakes in her white teeth.

My mind froze those snowflakes in mid-air and zoomed inward. It marveled at the crystalline structure—such beauty. I let the flakes fall. My wife laughed as clouds of sparkling snow fell on her.

Then, I was back in the treatment room with my swollen tongue pointing from my ulcerated mouth toward the ceiling. Green bile and blood stuck to bandages on my neck.

In the Hospital

Before I had checked myself into the hospital, my doctor told me I would require three bouts of chemotherapy during seven weeks of radiotherapy. But kidney problems and side effects extended the treatment period to three months. I shared hospital rooms with many depressed and anxious patients.

laughing in the snow, coping with cancer through visulaization - Goodmacher

Laughing and enjoying the snowfall.

Some were dying. A private conversation between my neighbor, his doctor, and his counselor slipped past the corrugated white plastic curtains. I heard them say that his cancer was incurable. That evening, I listened to his restless breathing and twisting in his bed. His aloneness, my aloneness, and our fears weighed on me.

For solace, I visualized another location in nature. I walked along a path between towering ferns in a verdant rainforest until reaching a stone cliff bathed in sunlight.

A circling eagle screeched. I climbed ancient steps carved into the cliff and found the eagle waiting on a ledge. Like old friends sitting side by side, we watched the sun fly over the forest canopy. At sunset, the eagle pointed his beak toward a cave in the cliff. I walked inside.

One golden sunray shone through a hole in the cave roof onto the warm cave floor. I lay down. The golden light entered my mouth, passed through my throat, and filled my body. My beloved dog from my childhood days, another from my thirties, and my current dog entered the cave. They pressed their warm bodies against mine. I felt love and healing.

Returning Home

Before leaving the hospital and going home, my doctor told me that the primary tumor had melted away. However, three centimeters of the secondary tumor remained. Were live cancer cells lingering in that mass? I could only wait for my next CT scan.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy had destroyed my body’s ability to maintain an average temperature, and I was much thinner. Although I left the hospital in late summer, I wore a thick down-jacket in the sunlight while my wife wore sandals and a short skirt. Walking my dog, I stopped to rest more often than she wanted. Exhausted and afraid of cancer recurrence, I found refuge in the healing woods within my mind.

man on hill with snowshoes, observing nature, visualizations for coping with cancer - Goodmacher

Relaxing and observing the beauty of nature

While my worries embraced me, Earth continued circling the sun. Winter arrived.

I stood at the base of a forested slope with forty runners with snowshoes. A whistle blew. They loped uphill. Gulping cold air, I walked as fast as possible. The trail reached a peak. I ran through trees, slid down small canyons, shuffled upward, and trudged onward. The trail circled. I was feeling proud when I was about to pass an elementary-school-aged girl, but she turned left to take the eight-kilometer path.

I turned right toward the finish line of the four-kilometer race. Someone rang a metal bell as I shuffled between a pair of trees showing the end. Exhausted, I let myself fall to the soft snow. Wrapped in snow wear, I stared at the white treetops and the blue sky. I felt damn good.

More To Come

man with arms outstretched under a tree full of snow - Goodmacher

Embracing the wonders of nature!

A month later, after another CT scan, I was just one of the numerous cancer patients waiting for doctors in the head and throat cancer department. Some patients had jagged scars on their necks after tongue or larynx removal. They couldn’t speak. If cancer remained, I would need similar surgery. Afraid to learn what the CT scan showed, I returned to the woods in my mind.

On snowshoes, I walked toward a massive cedar tree. My forehead pressed against the rough bark. Leafy branches bent. They hugged and squeezed me. Tree aroma entered my nostrils as I passed through the dark bark into a world of moving light and warmth. My body separated into trillions of cells, which joined rivers of nutrients and water traveling through the trunk, branches, and leaves.

As I circulated through the tree, cancer cells flowed to the tips of the roots, which flung them through miles of soil into boiling magma. My cleansed and strengthened cells regrouped in the heartwood. Then the tree eased me outward.

A nurse announced my name. The doctor told me that all the cancer cells had melted away.

Cancer Coping: From Then To Now

man walking on mountain peak with blue skies- Goodmacher

Hiking up a real mountain

Five years before that day, another doctor had informed me that my chance of surviving five years was less than forty percent.

I still return to the healing forests in my mind, and I snowshoe, with gratitude, in the real forests in the mountains near my home.

And I advise others fighting cancer. The mind-body connection is more than an abstract concept. It’s a real coping mechanism for cancer. I hope that you don’t need my advice, but if you do, find healing woods in your mind. And if you’re healthy, walk up a mountain.

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Benefits & Tips For Snowshoeing With Pets https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/10/30/benefits-tips-for-snowshoeing-with-pets/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/10/30/benefits-tips-for-snowshoeing-with-pets/#respond Wed, 30 Oct 2019 16:55:16 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=93965 One of the best parts of snowshoeing is that it’s a fun activity for the whole family, including pets! Of course, your family can get a good cardio workout and enjoy the winter terrain. But by including your furry friends, … Continue reading

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One of the best parts of snowshoeing is that it’s a fun activity for the whole family, including pets! Of course, your family can get a good cardio workout and enjoy the winter terrain. But by including your furry friends, you can watch your pet play in the snow and make the snowshoeing experience even more enjoyable. To learn more, we sought out an expert pet lover for more info.

Meet Dr. Heather James, veterinarian and medical director at Feltham Animal Hospital and  Central Saanich Animal Hospital in Victoria, BC, Canada. Heather is also a fitness enthusiast and enjoys the outdoors, including snowshoeing in places like Dakota Ridge and Tetrahedron Range in Sechelt, B.C.

Benefits of Snowshoeing With A Pet

Dr. James shares some benefits for bringing your furry friends/family members along on your snowshoeing outings.

Mental Health Benefits

dog in deep snow

A happy pup in the snow! Photo courtesy of Dr. James

James began, “There are many health benefits to snowshoeing with your pet. Time spent outdoors and with your family (pets included) is good for stress levels.” The outdoors in winter can be an awe-inspiring place.

For dogs, snowshoeing provides the opportunity to experience new smells, new sounds, and unique textures. With the change in seasons, these sensors change, which is stimulating for pets. The snow also provides a new environment for play. There are fresh animal tracks to smell, a bird call overhead, or a stick to play with submerged in the snow.

For people, mental stimulation can be similar. It’s sensory. We can experience the beauty of nature through sound, smell, sight, and touch. We hear the running of a stream, smell the scent of pine, see the colors of the sunset, and feel the crunching beneath our snowshoes. In all, these come together to provide mental health benefits by reducing stress and having fun!

Read More: Snowshoeing Saved My Life

Physical Health Benefits

In addition to the mental health benefits above, there are physical health benefits. Snowshoeing is an active sport, and the depth of snow increases the workout. James says, “The physical exercise will also promote good lean body mass that we know will extend your dog’s healthy lifespan.” 

For people, snowshoeing with your pet can help us keep fit too. Pets help motivate us to get out there, despite the weather conditions. James says, “I always say dogs are our best personal trainers as we have a duty to take them out for exercise and play, something we need for ourselves but often goes by the wayside in lieu of other responsibilities.”

Since snowshoeing is a low-impact activity, people and dogs of all ages and abilities can benefit (with a vet/doctor’s approval).

Read More: Winter Athleticism Brings A Healthy Outlook

Companionship

Dogs also can bring people together. As James puts it, “Going snowshoeing with your dog will often lead to invitations for family or friends to go too, so it is a social time. You will likely meet other dog owners out on the trail. Social interaction is important for both us and our dogs. Your dog will be extra tired from the energy used so you’ll have a calm evening to relax”.

However, each dog is different, and it’s essential to know preferred interaction levels too. If your dog (or you) doesn’t prefer interacting with others on the trail, snowshoeing with your dog still allows time for both of you to bond and have fun together.

In a practical sense, pets as a companion can also be a protector and provide support. There are some considerations to snowshoeing alone, and pets can be a buffer for that. In the event of an emergency, having a furry companion with you could end up saving your life.

dog and person (on snowshoes)

Snowshoeing is a great bonding experience for you and your dog!

Tips For Snowshoeing With Pets

James regularly goes snowshoeing with her dog Dottie and shared her tips on how to snowshoe with your pet safely and properly.

Get Your Animal Checked

It is recommended to make sure that your dog doesn’t have any significant medical issues, such as arthritis or dehydration before you go trekking in the snow. Especially for longer, multi-day trips, you may want to ask your veterinarian if such a big trip is right for your dog.

The other beneficial advice your veterinarian would be able to provide is a list of first aid supplies that you should pack. Many veterinary clinics sell small pet first aid kits that have things you may need along the way.

Stamina For Snowshoeing

Most dog breeds will do well on a snowshoeing trip, although some shorter-legged dogs may struggle more in the deep soft snow. You want to make sure your dog’s stamina fits with the duration of your trip.

Remember that the same distance snowshoeing is not the same distance hiking. Snowshoeing can feel a lot longer than the same trail in summer since snow is harder to walk in and requires more effort. Larger dogs with good athletic stamina will be great snowshoeing companions.

Clothing and Feet

Some dogs with very short hair will get chilly in the cold weather. Short-haired dogs may appreciate a jacket while they are out, but not all dogs require one. Short periods in cold weather can help determine your specific dog’s requirements.

Dogs can also be sensitive on their feet or get snowballs in the fur between their toes. If this occurs, you can buy boots from most pet stores. You will want to make sure the boots aren’t on too tight and grip on the bottom.

It’s recommended to test a jacket and boots on short trips in the park or around the block first. Testing them helps ensure they are the right fit, and no snowballs are developing under the jacket or within the boots.

For safety reasons, it can be beneficial to put a bell on your dog’s collar, so it is easier to find them. Bear bells or collar bells can be found in outdoor stores or pet stores. These may also deter wildlife if you’re worried about altercations.

Deep Snow or Trails

dog far away in snow (Grizzy)Dogs with longer legs can do well in deep snow, but it is certainly more manageable with a bit of snowpack on the trail. In wet snow, you will need to be mindful. As mentioned above, dogs with very soft coats can experience snowballs. Snowballs are where the snow can ball up and become a hindrance. Clipping the hair shorter or putting boots with grip on the bottom can help prevent snowballs in the fur.

For the first time snowshoeing with your pet, Dr. James says, “[Go] a shorter trip to see if your dog likes the snow and see how they recover after. It is normal for them to be tired after, but you don’t want them to be sore. Just as with a human, you’d want to know you feel fine doing a day trip before you committed to a multi-day trip.”

Nutrition and Hydration

Dry dog food packs well as it is lighter than wet food. You’ll want to encourage your dog to eat regularly, as they will need the energy. Treats can be helpful as well to encourage eating or focus your dog’s attention away from hazards like wildlife that they may want to chase.

Water is vital to pack! Your pet will need more water to make up with the losses associated with the high level of exercise. The beauty of snow is that your pet can drink if thirsty. However, you’ll still want to stop regularly to ensure your dog stays hydrated.

Pet-Friendly Trails/Routes

It’s recommended to look up snowshoe trails in your region for pet-friendly policies. James notes, “You will want to make sure that the trail is dog-friendly and whether they need to be on a leash or not.” Leashing will be mandatory in some areas where you would go snowshoeing, so it is best to look for any posted rules.

James continues, “I prefer dogs to be on a leash if they are prone to running off as it is likely you’ll see wildlife out on the trail.  If their recall is good and you can be certain they’ll come when called a good run through the snow is a great workout for a dog.” Also, if you are going for a multi-day trip and staying in cabins, do your research for a pet-friendly cabin.

Overall

Taking your pet snowshoeing with you can provide health benefits as well as companionship for you and your pet. Just remember to follow the tips above for a fun and safe outing, because as Dr. James mentions, “Dogs are great companions for snowshoeing as it is great exercise and they are adorable for snowy photo opportunities. She adds, “When it comes to snowshoeing with your cat, a cat is a great companion for laying on your lap when you get back from your trek.”

Read More: Dog Days of Winter: Tips for Snowshoeing With Pets

What are your experiences snowshoeing with your pet(s)?

The post Benefits & Tips For Snowshoeing With Pets appeared first on Snowshoe Magazine.

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Snowshoeing 4,000 Footers In New Hampshire’s White Mountains https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/10/25/snowshoeing-4000-footers-in-new-hampshires-white-mountains/ https://www.snowshoemag.com/2019/10/25/snowshoeing-4000-footers-in-new-hampshires-white-mountains/#respond Fri, 25 Oct 2019 20:53:49 +0000 https://www.snowshoemag.com/?p=93432 Whether it’s Snow-vember storms, mid-winter blizzards, or a deep snowpack lingering into May, snowshoes are often necessary for ascending one of the 48 summits above 4,000 feet (1219 m) in New Hampshire’s White Mountains  In fact, snowshoe season in the … Continue reading

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Whether it’s Snow-vember storms, mid-winter blizzards, or a deep snowpack lingering into May, snowshoes are often necessary for ascending one of the 48 summits above 4,000 feet (1219 m) in New Hampshire’s White Mountains  In fact, snowshoe season in the Whites commonly lasts six months or more, dispelling the notion that snowshoeing is a winter-only sport.

Despite the Whites’ comparatively diminutive elevation, winter lasts longer at its higher elevations. Many a spring hiker leaves the trailhead in short sleeves and hiking boots only to find themselves pulling on a jacket and snowshoes a few thousand feet later. If you’re interested in exploring the Whites on snowshoes, keep reading to learn about some of our favorite intermediate-advanced winter trips.

Nearing Mount Tecumseh's Summit, New Hampshire

The final push to Mount Tecumseh’s summit

Mount Tecumseh

Due to its shorter elevation (just 4,003 feet, 1220 m), moderate mileage, and sheltered trail, Tecumseh is commonly first on the list for hikers looking to get a taste of the Whites’ 4,000-footers in winter.

Leaving from the edge of the Waterville Valley Ski Area, hikers strap their snowshoes on at the Mount Tecumseh Trailhead. They stay on the trail for the entirety of this out-and-back trip—following it up 2.5 miles (4 km) to Tecumseh’s summit, then retracing their steps. The trail starts in a hardwood forest adjacent to Waterville Valley. It then weaves toward an intersection that offers a peek at the ski trails, and from here, the trail hugs the ski area’s boundary for 0.5 miles (0.8 km).

Above this intersection, you’ll be thankful for the traction your snowshoes provide. The trail climbs consistently, picking up the majority of its 2,250(ish) feet (686 m) in elevation gain. After about a mile, the Tecumseh Trail intersects with the Sosman Trail. It forks shortly after that, with either direction quickly leading to the summit. The summit view of many of the region’s notable peaks, including Mount Washington, is stunning.

Tecumseh is best for snowshoeing between late December and early March. In terms of difficulty in the snowshoeing season, Mt. Tecumseh is recommended for intermediate snowshoers (and also experienced hikers who are new to snowshoeing). The trail gets broken in quickly, even after big storms, so get up early if you want fresh tracks!

Bonus Points:

Why should skiers have all the fun? The proximity to Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, means easy après access. Stop into the T-Bar for a beverage and nachos before heading home.

Crawford Path sign, New Hampshire

The Crawford Path sign, with Mount Eisenhower in the background

Mount Pierce

The Presidential Range in the White Mountains is notorious for fierce weather and rugged terrain. Despite the range’s extreme reputation, some snowshoe routes offer amazing views while staying comparatively protected from the weather. One such route is the trip up 4,310-foot (1314 m) Mount Pierce—named for Franklin Pierce, the only New Hampshire-born president.

The trail up Mount Pierce follows one of the most classic trails in the country: the Crawford Path (which is celebrating 200 years of continuous use in 2019). Leaving from a parking lot across from the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center on Route 302, snowshoers take the Crawford Connector to the Crawford Path. Then they climb through a forested winter wonderland—gaining 2,500 feet (762 m) of elevation over 3.2 miles (5.15km).

The forest protects snowshoers from the Presidentials’ severe winds for most of the trip. The trail only opens up onto windswept slabs for the final 0.1 miles (0.16km). In good weather, hikers are treated to a stunning view of Mount Washington and the Southern Presidentials. On the summit, watch for friendly gray jays, little birds that willingly eat from your hand. Once summit photos have been taken (and the gray jays have lost interest in begging for food), retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Mount Pierce is an excellent choice for snowshoers from early December to late March. In heavy snow years, the route stays in form well into April. Similar to Tecumseh, intermediate snowshoers or experienced hikers new to snowshoeing would likely be comfortable on this trek.

Bonus Points:

On mild days, advanced snowshoers can continue on the Crawford Path for a little over a mile to the 4,780-foot (1457 m) summit of Mount Eisenhower. A descent on the Edmands Path, followed by a road march on the Mt. Clinton Road, make a roughly 10-mile loop (16 km) out of the trip. However, this variation will keep you above the tree line, exposed to the weather, for over a mile. The Edmands Path descent and the road march back to the trailhead will likely be unbroken. Make sure you’re well prepared.

Read More: Snowshoeing New Hampshire’s Eastern White Mountains

Heading to Mount Liberty's summit on snowshoes, New Hampshire

Snowshoeing towards Mount Liberty’s summit with Mount Flume in the background

Mount Liberty and Mount Flume

Northeast hikers flock to Franconia Ridge, located in the Franconia Range of the White Mountains, for its spectacular views and exposed terrain. Although less traveled than the classic ridgeline section between Little Haystack and Mount Lafayette, the portion connecting Mount Liberty (4,459 feet, 1359 m) and Mount Flume (4,328 feet, 1319 m) should be on every snowshoer’s list. The trip offers beautiful summits with stunning views, minimal crowds, and a fun, snow-filled romp across the col between the peaks.

The most popular way to hike Liberty and Flume is as an out-and-back hike leaving from the Basin parking lot just off I-93 North. After a few minutes south on a bike path, snowshoers will duck into the woods on Liberty Springs Trail, which also happens to be part of the Appalachian Trail. The trail gently but consistently climbs roughly 3,000 feet (914 m) over 3 miles (4.8 km) to a junction with the Franconia Ridge Trail. From there, it’s just a short scramble south to the exposed, rocky summit of Mount Liberty. 

From Liberty’s summit, snowshoers can either retrace their route (for about 7 miles round trip) or continue on the Franconia Ridge Trail for another 1.5 miles to the summit of Mount Flume. Those forging ahead are rewarded with a snowy walk through New England pines. Finally, they gain another craggy summit with stellar views of Liberty Mountain to the north and Loon Mountain, a popular ski destination, to the south.

Snowshoeing on Liberty and Flume is best between December and late March. The Mount Liberty trek is recommended for intermediate snowshoers. However, the continuation hike to Mount Flume from Mount Liberty is best for experienced intermediate or advanced snowshoers. Even when the snow melts at lower elevations, snowshoes are useful for the ridgeline traverse well into May.

Bonus Points:

If tagging both peaks feels like a lot of snowshoeing in one day, spend the night. Liberty Springs Tentsite is just below the junction of the Liberty Spring and Franconia Ridge trails. The tentsite and features tent platforms and a composting outhouse. Best of all, it’s free during the snowshoe season!

Road to the summit of Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire

The Carriage Road leading to the summit of Mount Moosilauke

Mount Moosilauke

The westernmost of the White Mountains, Mount Moosilauke is the tenth tallest mountain in the state. It’s also the fifth-highest outside of the Presidentials. Provided the weather above treeline cooperates, it’s one of the best snowshoe trips in the region. It’s also the most challenging trip on our list today.

Leaving from the end of Breezy Point Road in Warren, New Hampshire, snowshoers follow the five-mile Carriage Road. The road winds through dense New England forest and beautiful birch glades before continuing along the Krumholz-lined path to the barren, windswept summit. The mountain takes its name from the Abenaki word for “bald place.” However, large cairns now help direct snowshoers across the mountain’s moonscape summit.

Gaining 3,000 feet (914 m) in elevation, the Carriage Road dates back to the 1870s when horse-drawn carriages carried tourists to a summit hotel. Remnants of the hotel’s foundation can still be found on the summit and are frequently used by hikers as windbreaks. An extraordinary 360-degree view highlighted by Franconia Ridge and the Presidentials is available to Mount Moosilauke summiters.

The Carriage Road is typically an excellent snowshoe romp from late December until mid-March. Experienced intermediate or advanced snowshoers should attempt the trek to Mount Moosilauke.

Read More: Snowshoeing New Hampshire’s Western White Mountains

Bonus Points:

The Carriage Road’s width and moderate pitch make it the perfect place to deploy a snowboard, skis, or sled to speed up the descent. 

Go Visit!

The White Mountains in New Hampshire are a snowshoer’s paradise thanks to the easily accessible mountains and a variety of challenges for snowshoers of all abilities; we’ve only scraped the tip of the iceberg.

Before visiting any of the peaks discussed here, be sure to check the weather forecast at Mount Washington Observatory’s Higher Summit Forecast. Also, we recommend looking through recent trip reports at trailsnh.com for current trail conditions and 4000footers.com for basic route information.

We’d love to hear your experiences and recommendations in the comments below. Happy snowshoeing!

Pinterest- New Hampshire 4000 Footers

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