Don’t let the snow covered ground (which is quickly melting) keep you from enjoying all of the hiking trails scattered around the area. This week’s Getting to Know Your Gear blog will show you how to enjoy hiking regardless how much snow we get this winter by using snowshoes and trekking poles.
Snowshoeing has been thought to be around for roughly 10,000 years. The basic principle of snowshoes is the ability to distribute body weight over a larger surface area allowing people two walk across snow covered ground with greater ease. In the past, snowshoes were used in snowy areas so hunters/trappers could continue to provide for their family during the winter months (and to escape the ever lurking Yeti). Now, snowshoes are more of recreation accessories so outdoor enthusiasts can hike in deep snow.
While there are a few different types of snowshoes available, the most common is the recreational/trekking type. Other styles include backcountry/mountaineering and aerobic/running snowshoes. Running snowshoes are usually shorter and less wide than both recreation and backcountry. Additionally, for the same size person, mountaineering are going to be a little longer and wider for more difficult terrain. Each of these types of snowshoe have either fixed/limited-rotation or full/pivot-rotation bindings. Racing snowshoes usually have fixed-rotation bindings which do not allow the toe to pivot below the bottom plane of the shoe. Unfortunately, fixed bindings have a tendency to kick snow up the back of the user’s legs. Full-rotation bindings are normally preferred for traditional and mountaineering snowshoes because they allow for greater traction and mobility.
One of the best accessories for recreational or mountaineering snowshoeing are trekking poles. Poles help hikers maintain balance on most types of terrain, can help with knee pain and often increase the speed of the hike. Trekking poles can be used in all types of terrain and weather, the only part that needs to be changed out is the basket (wide portion just above the bottom tip). The baskets are wider for snow and narrow for normal trail hiking.
Now that you know the variety of snowshoes and trekking poles and how they can be used in winter weather, you can start to enjoy the trails. Check out some trails around the area like Moscow Mountain or Kamiak Butte. Also, the Outdoor Recreation Center rents both snowshoes and trekking poles throughout the year for those interested in breaking the winter blues with some outdoor activities.