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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Diaz-Gilbert

Got Snow? Have Trails? Then Go Snowshoeing and Snow Hiking

Updated: Jan 18

Photo by Jon Gilbert.

Snowshoeing - Great Cross Training

It's winter. And so far, this week it has snowed twice in one week. Today I'm heading out the door again to go snowshoeing.

Some runners enjoy running in snow. I don’t. Because I don’t run ultramarathon events in places where snow might fall, I have no need to train and run in snow. Plus, I don’t want to risk injury.

But snowshoeing is a great cross training that gets your cardio working, builds on your endurance, and works your legs and muscles.

Snowshoeing and Snow Hiking Don’t Require Much Gear

I began snowshoeing in 2010. My Tubbs snowshoes cost about the price of a pair of my Asics Gel Nimbus running shoes, which don’t last more than a season.

My snowshoes and poles.

The first time I went snowshoeing, all I could do was laugh. I kept falling and tripping over the snowshoes. It was like learning to ride a bike for the first time. But I learned quickly and discovered a new recreational and cross training activity to include in my ultrarunning training. I learned to strap on my L.L. Bean duck boots onto my Tubbs without my husband’s help.

When a snowstorm dumps a lot of snow, I am good to go.

My snowshoes are one of the best investments I’ve ever made. They don’t wear and tear because I take them out only a couple of times during the winter when, and if, we get a snowstorm, and more than four inches. My poles are a gift from my daughter and my son-in-law.

Snowshoeing on a trail filled with peace and solitude. Photo by Jon Gilbert

If you don’t have a pair of snowshoes and the snowfall is not deep, go snow hiking on the trails you normally run on. Bring a pole or two with you to keep you upright and to minimize your slipping and falling on visible ice patches, or worse, on ice hidden underneath the snow.

Benefits of Snowshoeing and Snow Hiking

Snowshoeing is affordable. It’s a great physical activity outdoors. Anyone can snowshoe and snow hike. If you're a runner or engage in another sport, snowshoeing is great cross training.

Snowshoeing is time well spent outdoors getting a good workout and moving muscles differently. Spend as much time as you want snowshoeing or snow hiking. I usually snowshoe 2 to 2.5 hours and cover about 2 to 2.5 miles. Snow hiking is not as demanding. I can snow hike for 2–3 hours and cover 4–5 miles.

Dress for Snowshoeing and Snow Hiking

Wear appropriate winter gear. Wear gloves that will keep your hands warm. Keep your head warm. Layer up to keep your body warm. Wear the appropriate socks and boots. Before I insert my feet in my boots, I wrap my sock-covered feet in plastic grocery bags for extra protection from the cold and the snow. The bags keep my socks dry and my feet warm.

Carry Snacks and Hydration

It’s smart to carry a few snacks in the pockets of your jacket. On a recent snow hike with my husband, we carried chocolate covered corn muffins I baked in the morning, along with a bag of dark chocolate M&Ms and pumpkin seeds.

I wore by Nathan Sports hydration vest with two filled flasks. We took a break on a bench on a side trail to refuel and hydrate.

The Peace and Solitude of Snowshoeing and Snow Hiking

Snowshoeing and snow hiking are great fun. You can snowshoe or snow hike with friend and family, or alone. Snowshoeing alone is a mediative and solitary physical activity that requires patience, discipline, and endurance.

I enjoy snowshoeing alone. I enjoy the solitude of the trails and the solitude of my laps around the perimeter of the snow-covered baseball field near my home.

Snowshoeing around the baseball field near my home.

As the snow comes down and I circle the .25 mile perimeter around the baseball field, surrounded by evergreens and other towering trees carrying the weight of the snow, I am filled with silence, peace, and solitude. I can go on for miles around the field and on the trail next to it.

My husband and I enjoy hiking in the national parks. In the winter, we enjoy snow hiking. We recently discovered a new trail ten minutes by car from our home. It’s smart to enjoy snowshoeing and snow hiking with a companion, especially on a new trail you are not familiar with.

Never Stop Exploring in Snow

More snow is in the forecast the rest of winter. Go ahead! Get yourself a pair of snowshoes and poles. You might even find them on sale. Strap on your snowshoes and explore the joys of snowshoeing. Not enough snow for snowshoeing? Keep on exploring if you have snow enough to snow hike in.

Enjoy the peace and solitude of snowshoeing and snow hiking. Never stop exploring in snow.

Watch a short video.

© 2021

I am the author of Come What May, I Want to Run: A Memoir of the Saving Grace of Ultrarunning in Overwhelming Times. You can order the book here from from the publisher, Amazon, Bookshop, or Barnes & Noble.

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