Since you live in Wisconsin it’s best to embrace winter and find some outside winter activities that are enjoyable for you and your friends and family. How about snowshoeing?
By: Linnea Anderson
Here are some great reasons to get outside and try snowshoeing.
1. No Experience Necessary! If you can walk, you can snowshoe. There’s no special technique to learn. It’s a great activity for all ages and abilities. Putting the snowshoes on your feet is usually with a self-explanatory buckle too.
2. Oxygen and Vitamins! Fill your lungs with lots of fresh air and fight S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) with Vitamin D from the sun.
3. Quiet time or Bonding time! Go alone or in a group. Snowshoeing is a great way to be alone with yourself and your thoughts or, if you prefer, to distract yourself from your thoughts. Enjoy nature. Listen for the birds, the wind, and the rustle of the last leaves or needles in the pines; the nearby waterway or snowflakes landing. Or go with a group. It’s easy to stay next to one another and have a great talk.
4. Boldly go where no one has gone before…or at least where no one else has gone since the last snowfall. Follow a designated trail in a park or follow in someone else’s footsteps or explore and make your own trail. Go where you can’t go other times of the year, like across a frozen marsh. Safety tip: Be sure any body of water is plenty frozen before you head out on it.
Please remember: No snowshoeing, hiking, or dog walking on any groomed ski trails.
5. Big burn! Snowshoeing is a great workout. Burn from 400-1000 calories per hour depending on your level of exertion. Enjoy an ambling stroll through the park or go for a snowshoe run in deep snow. Trek on a packed trail or make your own. With or without poles changes it up too.
6. Joint Friendly! Snowshoeing is low impact. The snow is soft and cushions your joints and breaks your fall if you do stumble and face plant. Tip: Trekking poles help with balance.
7. The Price is right! Outfitting yourself is less expensive than skiing. You only need winter boots and snowshoes, poles are optional. You can rent or buy your own snowshoes. Gaiters are a nice touch, especially if you’ll be exploring through deeper snow.
No special clothing is needed either: bundle up in layers and wear a quick dry or wicking under layer as you would for any outdoor winter activity. A windbreaker might be helpful and remember to cover your head, face and fingers in colder weather! If you get chilled, you can always pick up the pace and you’ll warm up in no time. If you dress too warmly you may sweat. Bummer: Sweat freezes if you slow down or the wind changes directions then hypothermia or frostbite is a possibility.
Another budget-friendly bonus: In most parks, no Trail Pass is needed for snowshoeing, unlike for skiing on groomed trails.
8. Day or night! Head out during the day or by the light of the moon. Oftentimes in city parks, the city lights are also enough to light your way. Safety tip: bring a headlamp or flashlight with fresh batteries as a backup if you had out late in the day or at night.
AND... Remember, safety is still first: Even if you are following a trail, or make your own tracks out and plan to take the same route back, it doesn’t take much wind for snow to drift over your marked path.
If you are taking a break from the world, bring water and snacks, your cell phone with reception, or a compass and map, and be sure to tell somewhere where you’ll be and when you plan to be back. Stay alert and pay attention to where you are going and how to get back to where you started. Hypothermia; frost Bite; falling through the ice; getting lost in the wild are just some of the risks of exploring the outdoors in the winter.
Be Safe and Have Fun!!
Here are some links to additional resources and locations.
Snowshoeing in City of Madison Parks: https://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/snowshoeing
Snowshoeing in Dane County Parks: https://www.danecountyparks.com/recreation/winter-rec/snowshoeing