Snowshoeing Winter Park and the Fraser Valley
Snowshoeing might not be the most popular sport in Winter Park but it can be one of the most relaxing sports. You don’t get to slide around like cross-country or downhill but at the same time maybe that’s why people like it. Snowshoeing brings a sort of self discovery and provides peace and quiet to the soul.
Snowshoeing is known to have been around for over 6,000 years and got it’s start in Asia. From what I’ve read, Ancestors to the Inuits and Native Americans migrated to North America bringing a prehistoric version of snowshoes with them.
Before snowshoeing turned into a recreational sport, snowshoes were used for survival and were made of wood and rawhide or animal gut that was used to tie the wood frame together and create the webbing that keeps you aloft on the snow. Many of these antiques are now hung in vacation rentals as decor. The wood frames did not have the best bindings to keep your foot secure and sometimes a snowshoer would have a lack of traction on traverses. Fatigue was also found in the hips of snowshoers due to how wide the wood frames were made.
It wasn’t until the evolution of the aluminum framed beaver tail snowshoe that snowshoeing became a sport and even a boom in snowshoe racing as athletics were turned onto this unique winter sport.
If you are considering trying out this zen-like sport there are some safety concerns to be aware of:
1) When getting ready in the parking lot be aware of conduction heat loss, sitting in the snow and touching the cold aluminum frames without gloves. It is best to already have several layers on before strapping into your snowshoes and use gloves to strap in on a cold day.
2) Keep yourself hydrated, starting out on a trail might feel great but towards the middle of your journey you should stop and hydrate. You can get pretty far on a trail before you realize it, make sure someone knows where you’re headed!
3) Wear proper clothing, a synthetic sock and a wool blend sock is best. A nice hiking boot should work but there are boots made for snowshoes as well. Try the sport out first to see if you like it! Since you’re moving you don’t have to wear as many layers as you would expect. Starting out with a base layer (top and bottom) along with waterproof outer shell (including gloves of course) is perfect. It is a good idea to take extra layers in a backpack as the weather can change fast at anytime.
Additional items; polls, sunglasses or goggles, water, snacks, first-aid kit and a camera (cell phone) for taking plenty of beautiful forest photos.
Places to rent snowshoes in the Fraser Valley
Not ready to invest in a pair of snowshoes yet? No, problem there are plenty of places to rent snowshoes and below are a couple options:
Icebox Mountain Sports located in Fraser next to Ace Hardware. I recommend them because they are one of the best stocked rental shops for snowshoes and cross-country skis. I stopped by one morning and I was greeted right away and the entire staff was friendly, knowledgeable and ready to get me started in the sport.
YMCA of the Rockies offers snowshoe rentals and you can use their miles of snowshoeing trails. While visiting their Nordic Center, their rental shop was hopping with people of all ages with staff busy helping customers. Even though they had signage up on the deck for rentals below, I found the entrance to the rental shop to be a bit confusing. If you’ve never been, make sure go to the back of the building and enter on the first floor.
If you really want to find your own “space” I would recommend heading out to St. Louis Creek in the morning.
It is very quiet out there and not a lot of people around in the mornings. It can get busy towards late morning to mid-afternoon so if you can handle the colder mornings I would recommend it!
Make sure you stay on the trails that people have packed down already, the rest of the forest does not need to be stomped on. Also the untouched glittery snow has a calming effect on your senses.
Have some pointers about snowshoeing? We would love to hear your comments below!
Eric has lived in the Fraser Valley for over 12 years. He is passionate about the people of Winter Park & Grand County, VisitWinterPark.com and his other business O2 Creative. He enjoys blog writing, camping, skateboarding, snowboarding, painting and spending time with his two kids and husband Philip.