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A Beginner’s Guide to Snowshoeing

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Our Phoenix-based editor ventures to the mountains of Colorado to learn the basics of trekking through the snow
snowshoeing
Image courtesy of Eldora Mountain Resort.

After more than a decade in the desert, snow has become a rather foreign substance to me. So when I learned I’d be heading out for a day of snowshoeing in the Colorado mountains, I immediately began Googling “what to wear snowshoeing.” As a Pacific Northwest native, I’m familiar with skiing, but this was a new venture for me. While my Google search prepared me for what to wear, there were a few lessons that could only be learned in the field.

  1. Don’t overcommit. For my first time out, I opted to head to Eldora Mountain Resort, near Boulder, Colorado. The close proximity to town and easy access to Nordic trails made it perfect for a newbie like me, who was worn out after just a couple hours.
  2. Pack a stash of snacks. Specifically, brownies from Boulder’s Piece, Love & Chocolate and a carafe of coffee from Boxcar Coffee Roasters. It was the perfect fuel.
  3. Dress in layers. Waterproof on top, insulating below — essentially, wear the same gear you’d wear skiing, sans the goggles. Waterproof snow boots are a must, even if the snow is pretty well packed. And don’t forget the accessories: ski gloves, hat, scarf. Once you get moving, you warm up quickly.
  4. Use your toes. When tackling a hill, it helps to walk on your tip toes to avoid taking a tumble.
  5. Pick your route. Start off at the mountain’s Nordic center, where you can buy trail passes, rent snowshoes and poles, and pick up a map. This is a great time to ask a million questions. Initially, I’d planned to stick to a nice, flat loop, but then was distracted by an uphill, through-the-trees route that wore me out quickly.
  6. Stay in the trees. On a windy day, the tree cover will be your savior. Out in the open, the wind and snow were whipping my face, but as soon as we stepped into the trees: relief.
  7. End your day at the spa. In a case of perfect planning, I had a massage booked for that afternoon at Boulder’s St Julien hotel. It felt well earned after a morning on the mountain.
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