Monday, January 07, 2013

Snowshoeing Sales Pitch

"Cheaper than skiing and harder work too!"

"Gets you away from those pesky lodges" (with their hot toddys and roaring fireplaces)

 Insert commercial. Don't use the traditional an attractive blonde slaloming down the slopes, hair blowing out behind her, snug fitting ski suit. Instead, pan to a group of late forty to late fifty year olds in mismatched gear, trudging the the snow with their hair plastered down with sweat.

No wonder more people ski.

I haven't necessarily been one to follow the beaten path in life so maybe that's why snowshoeing is a good fit for me.

It's slower than skiing.  It's even slower than hiking, unless you can find a nice little hill to slide down on your tush in the midst of snowshoeing. I like that you can look around and enjoy the sun, trees, fresh air, without watching for things that you could run into thus ending your life.

It's calmer, for me almost meditative. Especially when breaking trail (walk on new snow and make a trail for your group).  It's such hard work that my mind doesn't wander, it's completely involved in the task at hand. 

It's group reliant, again, especially if your group is going to break trail.  Breaking trail is exhausting and one person can't do it for long by themselves. Snowshoeing also allows for conversation and quiet contemplation each in portion to the group.

I've read that snowshoeing is a growing winter sport here in the Pacific Northwest. I suppose ith the economic downturn, people are less able to afford or justify lift passes and the expenses that go along with skiing. While snowshoeing isn't completely free, I'm paying little to do it this year.  I bought a Sno-Park pass for the season $40.  My snowshoes are about five years old but in great shape.  I did buy a few clearance items (gloves, balaclava) to round out my gear.

My first trip out this season was to Gold Creek, near Snoqualmie ski area. Roughly six or six and a half miles with two good friends, E & Coors, that I know from hiking. On Thursday I joined a meetup group totally fourteen folks and we actually snowshoed Snoqualmie Summit.  We climbed up right under the ski lifts as they weren't open for the day yet.  The total distance was approximately four miles but lots of elevation.  The sky was bright blue, we had lots of sun and the views were unbeatable.  Sunday I've rallied three friends, Coors again, 25 and Tac, to join me for a trail that's a bit farther.  Bear Lake is a two hour drive so here's hoping it's worth it.  The trail is ten miles round trip if we chose to do the full route, but it's relatively flat.

 Trip two was a meetup adventure on Snoqualmie.

Yesterday's trip turned into more an adventure than planned.  We were a group of four (Coors, 25 & 1 other) and headed up to a trail in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest near Granite Falls. Our two plus hour drive didn't pay off as expected since we found very very little snow. A huddle and redirect sent us to Tonga Ridge, near Stevens Pass.  It was an hour reroute but still in the Mt. Baker-Snoq forest. The snow was a bit icy, and got icier as we trekked but it was virtually deserted.  Very beautiful.  The company was excellent as we blended quite trekking with good conversation. I'm still battling my boots as I ripped my blisters open again but I think I've got the rest of my gear and layering sorted out as I wasn't too hot or too cold.

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