I want to start off by saying I love winter hiking. In Virginia, because the hikes aren’t really at elevation, there isn’t enough snow to stop us from hiking. I love hiking in the winter because I don’t overheat like usual in the summer and for some reason I always feel like I have much more energy.That being say, winter is, for a lot of people around the world, a time for hibernation. The cold weather of winter keeps a lot of people at home and inside, which can lead to depleted vitamin D levels, stir-craziness, and other cold weather-related problems. In the past I didn’t get out that often and usually gained quite a bit of weight.This is simply not the case for the outdoor enthusiasts in my world and I love it. When the weather changes, people put away their kayaks and surfboards and break out the heavy-duty jackets, snowshoes and skis/snowboards.I have made an effort this winter to catch the cold and stay outside. I have been running almost daily for a few weeks now and have gone hiking, urban adventuring, watched a couple Christmas lighting festivals/parades in freezing weather, and now, SNOWSHOEING!This weekend I went on my very first snowshoeing excursion up at Steven’s Pass, WA to skyline lake. And, you probably guessed it, I LOVED IT! As we were making our way up the seemingly crazy steep trail, I kept thinking to myself, “This is so great! With these puppies (snowshoes) I can keep hiking through the winter months!“First off, it was 19° when we started our hike. That is seriously cold. But, with our 5+ layers we were fine. The first few steps were incredibly awkward and hilarious but we figured it out pretty quickly and were on our way cruising up the trail. And by cruising I mean slowly and steadily making our way.Skyline Lake Trail is a great beginner’s trail for first time snowshoers, although there are other options that are less steep. The trailhead is adjacent to the ski resort and the hike itself is about 3 miles round trip with 1100 ft of elevation gain. So yeah, that is quite a bit of elevation in 1.5 miles.We rented our snowshoes from REI for about $24, not including pick up and drop off days. We got them on a Friday and dropped them off on Sunday so $24 for the entire weekend.
With the built-in heel bar on the MSR Evo Assent snowshoes, going uphill really wasn’t that bad. It felt like going up stairs, which is honestly what my body was made to do. Also, the snow was pretty compacted so we didn’t use the tails for the snowshoes.
A side trail took us to a stunning overlook. The clouds looked like bodies of water and you could see snow on the trees in the distance.The lake itself was frozen and snowed over and there were tracks going all over it. I walked out a bit before getting a little freaked and coming back. Sam, of course, made a bee-line for the center – she’s way braver. It was beautiful.
There were birds flying all around that were used to being fed little morsels here and there and they would land on your hand if you held it out, even if you didn’t have food.It was a great first snowshoeing adventure and I know I will have many more before winter is over! So, this winter, I encourage and challenge you to catch the cold and get outside!