Snowshoes

Algonquin Snowshoe Adventures

Kyra PatersonThis winter is the first one in a while that has seen me watching the weather forecast and hoping for snow – and lots of it! I want to strap my snowshoes on and head out for an adventure!

Last winter, I decided to buy snowshoes so that I could go on a winter backcountry camping trip at Algonquin Provincial Park, pulling my gear behind me in a homemade sled. I sought advice from Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville, and based on my height, weight, how I would use the snowshoes, whether I would pull a sled or carry a backpack, cross lakes or stick to trails, I borrowed a pair of Tubbs Women’s Elevate snowshoes and poles that suited me and my style of adventuring. I hiked the Highland Backpacking Trail at Algonquin with a friend, and loved the snowshoes so much that I bought them. They allowed me to climb and descend steep hills, walk on packed trails and in deep snow too. I’ll be heading out soon for another winter backcountry trip!

This year, I decided to try snowshoe running, so I bought a pair of Atlas Run snowshoes from Algonquin Outfitters. The day I picked them up, I headed straight to Arrowhead Provincial Park, where I spent several hours breaking in a couple of their snowshoe trails for the 2016-2017 winter season! I practiced walking and running in them, and even managed to climb a set of stairs without falling.

Since buying them, I’ve been out running as much as possible in the little snow we have received so far this winter in south-western Ontario! These snowshoes are narrower, shorter and lighter than my other snowshoes, allowing me to run without having to change my gait. Running on snowshoes is so much fun – hard work, but fun!

Just recently, I even participated in a snowshoe orienteering race called the Snowshoe Raid, put on by Don’t Get Lost Adventure Running. It was a team event, in which my partner and I had 3 hours to navigate on snowshoes to as many checkpoints as possible using only a map and compass. What a workout!

If you’re interested in the history of snowshoeing, or think you’d like to enter a snowshoe running race, check out Snowshoe Canada. It is their mission “through fitness, competition and fair play, to provide a safe and friendly environment for all and represent the sport at Provincial, National, World Championships and ultimately, the Olympics”.

Snowshoeing is for everyone, young and old!

If you don’t own snowshoes but would like to try them out for half a day, a full day, or multiple days, Algonquin Outfitters can set you up with a pair.

Where to Snowshoe

Pick a park, choose a trail, and off you go! Really, you can snowshoe anywhere. You don’t need a groomed trail. Any park or forest will do!

Here are a couple of suggestions

  • Algonquin Provincial Park – on any trail except the groomed ski trails
  • Arrowhead Provincial Park – on any marked snowshoe trail

Algonquin Outfitters Winter Trail Map

What to Bring on a Snowshoe Hike

Heading out for an afternoon hike on snowshoes? Consider bringing the following:

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Map and compass (make sure you know how to use them!)
  • First aid kit, including a whistle
  • Identification
  • Cell phone
  • Camera
  • An extra pair of socks in case your feet get wet
  • Snowshoe poles (not necessary, but helpful in hillier terrain)

What to Wear While on a Snowshoe Hike

Dress in layers, so that you can remove clothing if you get too warm, and add layers if you get cold. Consider wearing:

  • Hiking boots or winter boots
  • Warm socks
  • Long johns under your pants and top if it’s very cold out
  • Snow pants
  • Warm sweater
  • Winter coat
  • Hat, mitts or gloves, scarf
  • Gaiters, to keep the snow out of your boots

Remember that snowshoeing – in particular in deep snow – can be exhausting! If you can easily hike 5 km in the summer, plan to snowshoe half that distance to start with, to make sure you’re able to complete the distance and stay safe! Speaking of safety, snowshoe over land, not over bodies of water, which may or may not be safe depending on winter conditions. As you get more accustomed to snowshoeing, you’ll be able to walk (or run!) further, and spend more time out exploring the winter wonderland.

 

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Kyra Paterson

Kyra of Waterdown, Ontario spends her free time swimming, biking, running, competing in triathlons and running races, planning her next backcountry adventure and hanging out with her family.

2 Comments

  • David Pile (Jester) says:

    Thanks for the article. I truly enjoyed your descriptions of what you set out to do and how you took steps to get there, no pun intended. Though I am not a snow shoe user it was very interesting to read your experiences, how you got help from AO and ultimately developed your horizons.

    Thanks again for the nice photos of your treks. I particularly liked how you carried that fancy clothes tree through the woods. It looks like the perfect closet accessory. 😉

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