Snowshoeing is saving my life. And probably my marriage. And my family. And my sanity. Well, all that is probably a bit of an exaggeration, but it is 100% true that it’s made my life much better for 6 months of the year.
It’s like this. 7 1/2 years ago we left our cute little home in the Salt Lake Valley for another cute little home in the Snake Rive Plain. I loved all kinds of things about our previous home and life and city, but was ready for this new adventure and trusted my husband’s promises that the new place would be almost exactly the same, just smaller and slightly colder in the winter. Slightly.
That turned out to be rather an understatement. Our first winter in Idaho hit hard, and stayed grey and bitter cold for a very very long time. I was ill-equipped to cope with the biting sub-zero temperatures every single day and the accompanying wind. Icy stinging wind. I shivered and cried for 6 months. That’s how long winter lasts here.
Fast forward to my realization that I needed a way to enjoy winter. Something, somehow, to look forward to. Skiing wasn’t an option–too expensive, too far away, too time consuming for a momma with 2 small babes. Snowmobiling–too expensive and inconvenient. Flying away to tropical climes on a whim was also not an option. I finally landed on snowshoeing.
And I love it! My whole family loves it. Here’s why:
1. Snowshoeing is practically free. We purchased snow shoes for the whole family, and that’s all the cash we have forked out in 3 years. Easy to find at well under $100 per pair, even less for kids’ sizes. You can pay bigger bucks if you want, but I don’t want. No tuning up, no rentals, no lift passes. Snowshoeing is pretty cheap!
2. We can go snowshoeing just about whenever we want–several of our local parks groom trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, as do the nearest ski mountain and nearby state and national parks. In 5 minutes we can take our bundled up bodies to rolling hills and tree-filled vistas along the Snake River. That’s where we were the day these photos were taken. We plan to snowshoe in Yellowstone National Park this winter.
3. It’s easy–if you can walk, you can snow shoe. Even my youngest can participate on his own. He started at age 3! Sure, toting small ones along means your adventures might be shorter, but still, we can all go together.
4. It’s fantastic exercise. I checked a fitness app on my phone after 30 minutes of snowshoeing and it told me I had burned 200 calories. 30 minutes is easy! 200 calories burned away while playing in the snow with my little boys.
5. We really get to enjoy beautiful scenery in the wintertime–all that fresh air and evergreen trees and icy creeks, my boys love to spot animal tracks in the snow and birds of prey overhead. The fresh air and pretty views lift my spirits when winter starts to get me down. This particular late afternoon was sunny and shadowy both, which doesn’t make for the greatest photos but is beautiful nonetheless.
Snowshoeing really has saved me, by giving me something to look forward to all through the wicked winter months. I no longer dread winter as I did before, hate my husband a little bit less for moving us here, and I’m doing something good for my body and my family.
A few tips: outfitting myself with adequate winter clothing was essential. It took me 6 years to finally invest in a really warm down jacket and fleece leggings. I wear three layers of leggings for this activity. I usually skip the ski pants because they get a bit cumbersome, but I do use them for super super cold days and super super deep snow. Layer your bottoms and layer your tops–I like 2 thin and lightweight layers, then a fleece, then my jacket. Of course a warm hat and ski gloves.
Snow shoes slip right over your own comfy weather-proof or snow boots. You can see I’m wearing a pair of Sorels in the photo. Well worth the investment. Warm feet in the winter make a big difference in my outlook on life. Really, any cozy snow boot will work fine. Bring some hand and foot warmers along just in case, and don’t forget your water bottle–the cold air combined with exercise can make you thirsty. We also like to enjoy a thermos of hot cocoa at the end of our treks, wherever that might be.
If you are just starting out, opt for a short trail and work up from there. If you live near snowy climes, check your local park and state park websites for info on groomed trails. Bundle up in those layers, pack your thermos of cocoa, and start enjoying winter!