Snowshoeing Partner 101
Sharing a day on a snow-covered mountain trail with a snowshoeing partner is time well spent. Snowshoeing alone, like hiking alone, is not a good idea. Snowshoeing seems like a great time for introspection and solitude, but in reality there is more safety in numbers and the last thing you want to do is get stuck alone on a winter trail without help. One of the easiest ways to find a snowshoeing partner is to ask someone who you hike with in the spring and summer.
Like hiking partners, your snowshoeing partner does not have to be the same age or gender as you, but they should have a similar pace. It is best if you and your partner can switch being the snowshoeing leader, because breaking trail is hard and shouldn't be the responsibility of just one person. There is one thing that all snowshoeing partners must be and that is prepared. Be sure you and your partner always pack the proper gear for the type of trail you are taking. A prepared snowshoeing partner will be better suited to respond to emergency situations, and will help to make every snowshoe hike you take a successful and safe experience.
Snowshoe Trip Packing
What you pack for your snowshoeing trip will depend on the distance and time span of your hike. Here we will discuss the essentials needed for a day long snowshoeing trip.
Clothing The first thing to consider before going on a snowshoeing trip is clothing. You will need to wear moisture wicking long underwear, weather proof/breathable jacket and pants, windproof/water repellent gloves, wool or synthetic socks, and a wool or synthetic hat. Additionally, you'll need sunglasses. The sun will reflect a harsh glare.
Protection Before you go out on the snowshoeing trail, put on sunscreen and lip balm, and hydrate. You should always hydrate before, during and after a snowshoeing trip.
Gear For your snowshoeing trip, you'll need snowshoes and nordic poles.
Backpack Carry a small back pack and be sure to keep it light. Pack a small set of extra layers, a small tool kit for equipment fixes including some duct tape, a compass, a map, and a first aid kit. Additionally you should always carry water and a small sack lunch with you.
Long snowshoeing trips are best done with another person or in a group. Snowshoeing alone is dangerous and should be taken seriously by packing more safety and emergency items.
Snowshoeing is a great low-skill, low-impact winter sport. It can bring you hours of enjoyment and aerobic activity, but it can also be dangerous. Avalanches are the most dangerous enemies of snowshoers. When heavy snowfall is followed by a slight increase in temperature and light rains, layers underneath begin to weaken and cause avalanches. There are two types of avalanches; those that are naturally caused and those that are caused by humans.
Anytime you are snowshoeing in back country, check the avalanche conditions in the area before you go out by either calling an avalanche hotline or by calling the ranger station where you plan to snowshoe. Beware that although some trails make for great summer hiking, once covered in snow, they can be unpredictable and dangerous. Most park organizations have a listing of areas that are safe for snowshoeing and also will list areas with the potential for avalanches. Also, pack these 10 essential survival items: a map, compass, extra food, extra clothing, a firestarter, matches, sun screen, a pocket knife, first-aid kit and a flashlight. You may even want to consider carrying an avalanche beacon which is a transceiver that sends out pulses to other transceivers when under snow.
Before you head out for the day, tell someone where you are going and when you plan on being back. You should even consider giving them a map of the trail you will be snowshoeing. Additionally, you could learn how to spot potential avalanche areas by taking an avalanche safety course.
Snowshoe racing is a budding and fast growing sport. As snowshoe construction evolved from a wood frame with rawhide bindings to an aluminum frame with traction devices and elastic bindings, its uses grew from functional to recreational. Snowshoe racing is basically an extension of trail racing. Snowshoeing is easy to pick up; if you can walk or run, you can snowshoe. Snowshoe racing, however, is a bit more difficult than just basic snowshoe hiking and requires much more aerobic capacity.
A typical snowshoe racing course follows predetermined cross country trails, is 3 to 6 miles long and involves various incline and decline areas. To run in a snowshoe race, you will have to pay an entry fee, will have to wear a regulation size carrying pack and regulation size snowshoes. When there is no snow on the ground, you can train by running on the same trails in the summer. To keep you motivated to train, you can find or create a Snowshoe Racing Group here at FitLink.