We’ve become spoiled living and skiing in the Rocky Mountains. If there isn’t any fresh snow, it’s sometimes hard to get excited about cruising groomers all day. When this is the case, and the sun is shining, the wind’s barely blowing and the weather is warm enough for only one pair of long-johns (just kidding, doesn’t get THAT cold in Canada) snowshoeing can be a great alternative with endless snowshoe trails in the region.
Snowshoeing is a bit like the winter version of hiking, you’re still following a trail, but you need to wear tennis racket looking things to prevent you from sinking. You can pretty much do any high alpine trail (need to be sure there is sufficient snow to warrant snowshoes!) that you would do in the summer or you can go off the beaten track and create your own. Pick a trail appropriate to your fitness level (i.e. distance, elevation gain) and the options are endless! Kananaskis has plenty of trails to offer, especially along the Smith-Dorrien highway. Some of my favourite have been through the woods right along the Spray Lakes, Chester Lake and Mt. Shark. Hike Alberta also has some great trail reviews.
Like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing can be quite cardio intensive, therefore it is important to dress in light layers. I find winter boots to be too bulky and warm for the snowshoes so I opt to wear my hiking boots with gators or a snug fitting snow pants over top. The only other pieces of equipment you’ll need are snowshoes and poles! Both of which can be rented from numerous outdoors equipment rental stores. If you’re in the Calgary region I recommend the University of Calgary Outdoors Center where you can rent snowshoes and poles for less than $15/day. I’ve rented equipment from them numerous times and have always been given high quality equipment with no problems. Another great place to rent gear from is Mountain Equipment Co-Op, where snowshoe rentals start at $12/day.
One of my favourite things about this time of year is to be able to enjoy winter activities but in the warmth of the sun. There’s nothing more satisfying then working up a sweat in the snow then sitting back in a snowbank, cracking open a spritzer with your picnic and working on that backcountry beauty tan.
So braid your hair, grab your sunglasses, toque and backpack of water and snacks, you’re ready for an adventure fit for a beauty in the backcountry!