Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snowshoeing Season

With up to eight inches of new fallen snow in Omaha, it's time to break out the snowshoes.

For the uninitiated, there's a great snowshoeing primer in the latest edition of Subaru Drive magazine. It's a quick read. Even Shim could probably have the patience to trudge through the entire story. There's lots of pictures!

My first snowshoeing experience came a couple years ago when my younger brother Brendan took me out for a run just outside of Keystone, CO. Yes, run. On snowshoes. Brendan's a little nutty that way. In fact, he's more than just a bit eccentric. Afterward, he told me that he once experienced the mercurial taste of blood in his mouth during a sprint finish at a snowshoe race in altitude.

Perhaps he should have shared that before inviting me to go snowshoe running.

But alas, there was no blood-spitting at the end of that run. It turned out to be a good time as we attacked fresh powder on a forest service road with his dog Jack.

With last year's huge amounts of snowfall, I decided to invest in a pair of snowshoes. I did some research discovered that the magic price-point for a good pair of snowshoes is around $200. Now, you can buy some entry level ones for around $100, but you might as well duct tape Billie Jean King tennis rackets to your feet for a comparable snowshoeing experience. Admittedly, $200 is a little steep for a few months of use per year. But a good pair should bring enjoyment for many seasons.

Whether you're running or walking, there are many benefits to snow shoeing. Research shows that it's one of the best ways you can find to burn calories while exercising (I stole that ditty from the Subaru Drive Magazine article with pretty pictures that Shim didn't read). But the the real benefit is that it offers a superb cross-training option when the snowy streets make cycling or running otherwise impractical.

Turns out lots of people around Omaha have a pair of snowshoes. In fact, last winter many local cyclists met regularly to snowshoe Jewell Park. You'd be surprised at how different the trails look when the trees are barren and powder covers the single track you once thought you knew like the back of your hand.

Consider picking up a pair. Local bike shops often carry them (eg: Trek Omaha), sporting goods stores like Canfield's and on-line retailers like REI the Sierra Trading Post typically stock them in winter months.

Some places also rent them. Locally, UNO's venture center has some very nice hiking snowshoes for rent. And on the cheap. Just make sure to call ahead to reserve them as quantities are limited.

Otherwise, you and your best duct taping skills can make Billy Jean King proud.

Hope to see you on the trails soon.


  1. Funny. I was thinking about racing in tennis rackets last weekend in Beaver Creek. But then I remembered the taste of blood I used to get racing in snowshoes at 10,000ft (not from being smacked in the mouth), and thought I'd leave the suffer-fest to others.

    Have fun snowshoeing in the parks in Omaha. But remember: It's not a real snowshoe workout unless you taste blood.

  2. You waited how long to come up with this?