We thought we weren’t “winter sports people” until we moved to Colorado and tried out snowshoeing. We loved it immediately! But then we wondered: why? What’s so great about snowshoeing anyway?
Seriously, we had to give that some thought because:
- For the first time in our lives we wished for more snowy winter days (what?!) and…
- On the most basic level, snowshoeing just means that you’re going for a walk in the snow.
So what’s the big deal?
These are a few reasons we think snowshoeing is so great:
The snowshoe itself! A snowshoe is footwear (you wear in addition to your actual shoes) that distributes your weight over a larger area to keep your feet from sinking too deeply into the snow. That’s called “floating” and is the reason why it takes less effort to hike in the snow and why your feet will stay warm longer than without snowshoes. So you can be out in the snow longer and more comfortably. Snowshoes also have cleats that give you more traction and keep you from slipping and falling. This probably makes snowshoeing the least dangerous winter sport.
Experiencing a mostly untouched winter wonderland. Wearing snowshoes enables you to go out into nature where no one else has forged a trail yet. Imagine yourself in the middle of a quiet, untouched landscaped covered in a blanket of pure white snow. Breathing the fresh air and feeling immersed in this pure beautiful nature will make you happier (especially if you compare it to walking through the dirty slushy snow in town).
Less people, more quiet. This sounds almost like the previous reason – but we can’t emphasize enough how great it is to be out in nature without anyone else around and just enjoy the silence. It’s so calming! The same trails you have to yourself in the winter, are often crowded with locals and tourists during spring, summer and fall. In the winter, most of those people are either indoors or skiing down a crowded slope.
You can do it anywhere there is snow. If you live somewhere where it snows, it’s as easy as heading over to the nearest trail or city park. Most summer hiking trails are suited for some form of snowshoeing. So local, state and national parks are great locations to snowshoe. But of course, it’s most thrilling to walk across untouched snow out in the backcountry where there aren’t even any trails. Just, you know, be safe and tell someone where you went.
It’s inexpensive. It really doesn’t cost much more than regular hiking – especially if you buy reasonably priced snowshoes (starting around $100). You can also rent snowshoes at sport stores and ski resorts. Or borrow a pair from a friend; then it’s free. And no matter what, it’s way cheaper than other winter sports, except maybe ice skating.
Practically no learning curve. Maybe we’re doing it wrong – but it seemed pretty intuitive. It gets a bit trickier if you go up and down steep elevation. There are plenty of videos that explain the basics, like this informative video by Faber Snowshoes.
You’re off the couch and moving! Of course, snowshoeing is great because it’s a form of exercise, which is harder to come by in the winter. And you choose the level of exercise – just like you would when you pick between walking, hiking, climbing or running. Yes, there is snowshoe running. And no, we don’t think we’ll ever try that. In our experience, flat terrain or rolling hill snowshoeing is less exhausting than cross-country skiing (which to us felt more like being on an elliptical at the gym – just sayin’).
You can socialize while snowshoeing. Again, it’s just like hiking. So you can enjoy this sport while in the company of people you like and you can chat the whole time… or enjoy the silence together. Either way, it’s more of a shared experience than wearing an isolation helmet and racing after your friends down the slope. And aren’t shared experiences the best? You can talk about it for years to come.
Your dog can come, too! Unlike all other winter sports, your dog can share in the joy of this outing. Our dog Whiskey loves playing in the snow! (Check out how much fun she has in the video Luci made about our very first snowshoe hike for the Moving Postcard web series.) We suppose dogs are allowed to go ice fishing. But they’d be soooo bored, right?
You can dress like a 3-year old. Okay, granted, this may not be everyone’s thing but… remember being a child and being put into these huge puffy pants and jacket and you could just play and roll around in the snow without getting wet or too cold? Yeah? Did you love that? Yeah? Well, then go get yourself some puffy snow pants and get out to play in the snow. You don’t have to wear aerodynamic or cool brand name clothes for snow shoeing. It’s all about having fun, not about showing off!
Excellent justification for a snow picnic. We love to picnic in the snow… especially, if we filled up our Happier Stainless Steel Bottle with a warming beverage. So make sure you bring some food, drinks, a moisture repellant blanket and enjoy a break in the snow as we did in the picture at the top of this post. But definitely don’t fall asleep!!!
All these reasons make us love snowshoeing and they lead to one more excellent reason: snowshoeing makes us appreciate winter (again) because, obviously, that’s the only time you can snowshoe. And appreciating winter keeps the winter blues away that otherwise usually starts taking over right around the beginning of February.
In conclusion: snowshoeing is so great because it makes us happier!
Have you ever gone snowshoeing? Did it make you happier? Any tips you’d like to share with us? Any favorite places for snowshoeing? Is there another winter sport you prefer? Do you wish for more snowy days? Care to share a snowshoeing or winter hike memory with us? We’d love to hear about what makes you happier!
All photos in the post were taken by Luci Westphal – except the one featuring Luci, which was taken by Scott Solary.