A simple way to keep fit during the winter months

Keeping active in the cold winter months can be a challenge. Cumbersome seasonal wear and the chilly weather can make it a chore to get outside and be active.

Snowshoeing is one activity where getting those clothes on and braving the cold will pay off. If you’re up for a new adventure, this recreational sport will give you a great work out that is easy on the budget.

Low cost option

Veronique Le Saux, a volunteer guide with the Calgary Outdoor Club, says via email, “Once you have the proper equipment, such as snowshoes and winter clothing, it is genuinely cost friendly.

“The price range for snowshoes can vary from $100 to $300, maybe more depending on what type of snowshoes you wish to purchase,” she says.

“But once you have invested in all the equipment, it doesn’t cost anything to go snowshoeing.”

If you are new to the activity and just want to give it a try without making a monetary commitment, renting is an option.

Le Saux recommends renting equipment for the first few outings while you figure out if this is an activity that you enjoy.

This beautiful landscape can be accessible by anyone willing to strap on a pair of snowshoes and take on this winter adventure.
Photo courtesy of: Brandon Corcoran

Stephanie Franzke works as a rental tech at Wilson’s Mountain Sports in Lake Louise, Alta. She says that snowshoeing is a popular activity with visitors to the area.

“It’s really nice because if it’s cold outside, it’s still something you can go and do. You can dress up and it doesn’t matter what the conditions are like because there is always somewhere to go.”

Franzke says rental prices, as well as start up costs, are minimal compared to other outdoor activities.

Equipment can be rented for around $10 per day, in comparison to a ski hill pass, which typically costs around $80.

Location, location

Calgary’s close proximity to the mountains makes snowshoeing ideal for day trips.

Le Saux says, “The Canadian Rockies are one of most beautiful places in the world when it comes to the outdoors. It is virtually in our backyard so anyone should be encouraged to make the most of it.”

Throughout the Rockies there is a vast network of trails for outdoor enthusiasts to explore.

“You can make snowshoeing as easy or as strenuous as you wish, depending on the trail that you choose,” Le Saux says.

Fun for all ages

Le Saux says that she believes “the popularity of the sport is mainly due to its simplicity.”

“If you can walk, you can snowshoe,” Franzke says – a sentiment that was echoed by avid snowshoers Lise Levesque and Dave Savage of Cranbrook, B.C.

Levesque says she originally got into snowshoeing through her work. “I used to cruise timber, and we used to have the big bear paw (an older style of snowshoe).”

“It wasn’t fun. It was cumbersome and slow, and a lot of hard work,” she says.

Newer snowshoes have been made much more comfortable and are engineered to be lightweight, says Levesque, so you are able to walk at your regular pace.

Savage says he is a convert. Always a fan of cross-country skiing, Savage says that he doubted the fun he could have while snowshoeing.

“I always thought, ‘snowshoes, how stupid is that?’ Why would you go so slow when you can cross-country ski,” Savage says.

“And the first time I put on my snowshoes it was like ‘hallelujah, I just had a religious experience. This is so cool.’”

However, challenges to snowshoeing still remain. Though improvements have been made in technology, the availability of trail systems still holds back the spread of this activity.

This trail-head for snowshoeing is located right by the lake shore in Lake Louise, which is the starting point for a few trails.
Photo by: Taryn Hajnrych

“The biggest thing is going to be finding the places to snowshoe,” Levesque says.

“Cross country skiers don’t like snowshoers on their trails, especially set tracks, because it wrecks the tracks for them,” she says.

Levesque adds that, “A lot of the places that you could snowshoe easily in the winter are hiking trails in summer, but roads often aren’t plowed to the trail heads so you can’t get there.”

Despite these few minor set backs, this pair of avid outdoor adventurers have hope for the future of snowshoeing.

“Hopefully over time this activity will be seen as something of value and someone will start clearing roads and parking areas, encouraging the activity more,” Levesque says.

Savage says he believes the activity will grow due to the appeal snowshoeing has with people who like being in the mountains.

“It’s like hiking in pure white. It’s fabulous.”

thajnrych@cjournal.ca