This week we hit the hills behind Apex Mountain for our first snowshoe of the season. The resort officially opens December 1, and it will be ready. We stomped through well over a foot of fresh powder as we broke trail on some of our favourite snowshoe routes up and down Mt. Riordan (NW of Apex).
We parked at a pullout about 4 km before the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre. Ohhh…the excitement of cranking the buckles on my new snowshoes. I have to admit now that I’m 30, snowshoeing is much more enjoyable than snowboarding or skiing. I was never that good at either, and being self-employed, I’m hooped if I break something. Snowshoeing is a low-impact, heart-pumping sport that still allows you to play in the snow with less chance of visiting the ER.
Veteran or amateur, it’s always a little nerve-racking as you ease your way back into winter activities. What to wear? What not to wear? How do I not freeze my butt off? How do I avoid loosing my balance while squatting to pee in the snow? (Ever had snow burn on your bum?!) A miserable first day can be enough to turn you off the season. Thus, to defend yourself against toe-numbing temperatures, ensure you’re properly dressed before you leave home.
Here’s what I wear:
- Waterproof comfortable hiking boots
- Thick wool socks
- Thick Lycra tights over leggings
- Tank top
- Mountain Hardware down jacket (the BEST clothing investment I’ve ever made)
- Pink scarf (my token snowshoeing accessory)
- Mitts (double-lined)
Here's what I take:
- Faber snowshoes
- Fire starter
- GPS & Map
- Extra warm shirt
- Small saw or folding knife
- Sunglasses (in case the sun decides to shine)
After clothing and gear, the third most important item to pack is food. In addition to the usual peanut/butter sandwich, CLIF bar, apple and chocolate bar, I usually bring a thermos of hot tea or coffee. This does WONDERS to warm up your core when you stop for a rest.
I was fortunate enough to do lots of hiking this summer. But the thrill of breathing crisp mountain air, tasting snow on my tongue, running though fresh powder, belly laughing at my subsequent face plant, warming my hands by a fire and exploring familiar trails in the winter season is a totally different and rewarding outdoor experience.
If you’ve never snowshoed before, I highly recommend it. Remember to always tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return. And if you want to go with a pro, my friend Dino (see 3rd photo across) is an experienced snowshoe guide who leads exciting and entertaining snowshoe tours (250.809.1165).