This winter, I have decided to take better advantage of the Bay Area’s proximity to the mountains. Since downhill skiing frightens me with its seemingly inevitable likelihood that injury will sideline me from running, I have been exploring other sports. Cross-country skiing is an old favorite of mine, but snowshoeing is what I’ve started to enjoy the most.
Snowshoeing is a lot like hiking. Depending on the snow level/quality, it can be as easy as hiking down a regular trail and as difficult as walking up a sand dune. It’s a GREAT workout and perfect cross-training for us trailrunners.
A couple of things I learned:
- Rent snowshoes close to home – It’s much cheaper to rent gear at your local REI or Wilderness Exchange than in the mountains. Prices can go as low as $16 for a four-day rental. I eventually bought a pair for about $100.
- Utilize poles – Ski/trekking poles make things much, much easier, especially when you tackle steeper terrain.
- Research trails ahead of time – Snow levels in the Sierras and Cascades can easily reach 10-15 feet and much higher. Any trail signs that would be visible during the summer is most likely completely submerged in the winter time. There are, however, plenty of prepared trails with trail markings attached high up in the trees. I recommend Lasssen National Park or Badger Pass (pdf) in Yosemite.
- Have fun! – That’s always my number one rule!