Macleod: Snowshoeing in the sunshine
February 1, 2017
I own a lot of shoes. Embarrassingly enough, probably more than my girlfriend owns. I have snowboarding boots, hiking boots, work boots, shoes for the skatepark, shoes for mountain biking, Sorels for the winter, Chacos for the summer. The list goes on.
But one pair of shoes I've never owned has been snowshoes.
Of course I've worn some before, but honestly, it was only to stomp the infields under the chairs when I was working as a lift operator. I've never actually gone out to purely snowshoe. I'm sure this is largely another casualty of my snowboarding addiction, but considering how much I like to get out and hike during the warmer months, it was kind of odd to realize I've never actually gotten out to do it this time of year.
So when my little brother, Colton, and his girlfriend, Jessica, visited recently – who neither of which have ever skied nor snowboarded before (don't worry, I changed that real quick) – I thought what better opportunity to knock out my first snowshoe hike. They were eager to take a break from the stretch of stormy ski weather we had been having, and after multiple deep days, my knees were certainly aching for a more leisurely activity.
Waking up to the first sunny morning in nearly a week, we headed into town to pick up some snowshoes and get on our way. I knew that coming from sea level neither Colton nor Jessica would have been ready for anything too strenuous, so I opted for the Jim Creek Trail across from Winter Park Resort. It would be a mellow pitch for the two of them, and a good opportunity for me to check out a familiar trail for the first time in the winter.
While making our way along the path, the sun peaked in and out of the snow-covered evergreens as the cold snow crunched beneath our shoes. Being someone who typically snowboards with headphones in, it was a nice change of pace to enjoy the outdoors with nothing but open ears and eager eyes. I began to fill Colton and Jessica in on some local history and tidbits, and gave them a fair warning as to what sorts of wildlife we could potentially encounter. Both of them were overly eager to catch a glimpse of a moose, so I had my fingers crossed for some good fortune.
As we followed the creek side, my brother abruptly stopped to point out something off in the distance. I looked over, and as luck would have it, there was a calf lying in the snow – his ears perked up as he watched us from a safe distance. I fumbled to get out my camera, and despite being a little far off, was able to snap a photo to commemorate my brother's first moose encounter. Success.
But even with good luck aside, the entire experience of snowshoeing proved to be an incredibly enjoyable and even therapeutic experience. As much as I love the adrenaline rush from a good run snowboarding, it was tough to match the peace and stillness I encountered on the snowshoes. With so many places to still get out and explore, I may just have to add another pair of shoes to the collection – even if I do risk a little teasing from my girlfriend.