Friday, November 23, 2012

Snowshoeing 101

Winter hikes take recreationists off the beaten path


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Courtesy photo Snowshoeing opportunities abound in the Wood River Valley.

In an area famous for being the country’s first destination ski resort and also known as Nordic Town USA, promoting snowshoeing may seem strange. 

But for snow lovers looking to get off the beaten path and explore the terrain, snowshoeing can provide maximum reward for minimal investment. 

It’s not hard to find a backcountry snowshoeing experience, even if newbies might not want to travel too far off a beaten track.

Erin Zell, concessionaire at Galena Lodge north of Ketchum, said the lodge has 25 kilometers of snowshoeing trails that are kept packed through most of the year.  

Blaine County Recreation District volunteers pack down the trails after storms and as weather requires.

More popular trails in the area follow summer hiking trails, such as the Adams Gulch system just north of Ketchum, said Joe Miczulski, winter sports specialist from the Ketchum Ranger District.

Miczulski doesn’t recommend Greenhorn Gulch, as parking becomes an issue, but said Deer Creek north of Hailey and out East Fork in the mid-valley would be good spots.

Janelle Conners, trails assistant for the Recreation District, said the North Fork Loop behind the Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters is an excellent trail for families and those just breaking into snowshoeing—flat, only 4km and with a variety of views along the river and through conifer forest.

Sun Valley Resort visitors can snowshoe from the Sun Valley Nordic Center to Trail Creek Cabin or the Hemingway Memorial, and a new track follows the summer hiking White Clouds Loop near the golf course.

Zell said her favorite is Psycho Adventure, a 5km advanced snowshoeing trail at Galena Lodge that takes snowshoers through a forest and up to a ridge with a view of the Smoky Mountains.

Snowshoeing is relatively easy. It is similar to hiking, only requiring a somewhat wider stance and more endurance if the recreationist is breaking trail.

Another benefit is the relatively low gear investment required. Many models range from $60 for a child’s set to $260 for a top-of-the-line adult pair—half the price of a basic cross-country starter setup.

Many people invest in extras, such as adjustable poles for balance, extender tails to help snowshoers float on deep powder and a light day pack for avalanche equipment and dry clothing.  

Zell urges snowshoers to stay on marked snowshoe trails and avoid groomed ski trails—the crampons on the bottom of a snowshoe chew up the carefully groomed lanes.

Happy trails! 

 




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