Monday, January 25, 2016

Snowshoeing at Solitude: A review of sorts

When I was a kid, I made exactly one snowman. I was approximately 3 years old at the time. Later, when I was 16, I went with my friend Cindy to a hill and attempted to snowboard.

That's all I got for winter outdoor activities, folks. I guess I've always been more of inside kind of girl.

So when I started to think about snowshoeing this year, it seemed foreign. But I've realized the past few years how much I love winter running. I'm not in the least afraid of the cold; I actually love it. I'm faster in the winter than I am in the summer, and my asthma doesn't seem to bother me as much. Plus, with my kids getting older, all they ever want to do is hang out with their friends. I'm happy to let them do that, but I'm finding that if we don't find things to actually go out and do, then we don't ever do anything together.

On Christmas Eve, we went sledding at a park near our house. It was really fun and it solidified my determination that we would soon try snowshoeing. Shane found us all boots. Then the day after Christmas, I got my very first pair of snowpants. (They are seriously so cute. I got them at Costco and I wore them for the rest of the day after I bought them.) I found a great deal on snowpants for both Shane and Thomas, and Ben already had a pair. We were ready, and all we had to do was pick a day and go.

That day finally came on Saturday. I had researched snowshoeing in Utah and found that the Silver Lake area at Solitude Ski Resort is the perfect place to snowshoe. The reason are many, but include:

  • 6 miles of dedicated and groomed snowshoeing trails.
  • Easy and relatively inexpensive rentals. They were very helpful, and asked us lots of questions. Thomas didn't have waterproof boots so they suggested overshoes for him. They asked which of us wanted poles (only I wanted them) as a way to save money. We were all outfitted and ready within 10 minutes of walking in to the Nordic Center.
  • Free parking
  • Easy to follow trails (once you realize the markings - will explain later!)
  • A shuttle bus that allows you to travel between Silver Lake and the main Solitude Ski Resort.
  • Color coded maps along the trails.
We got to Solitude about 12:00. We had originally planned on doing a half-day of snowshoeing, but to do that, you have to arrive after 12:30. Even so, it was still around $21 a person for the rentals and day pass. Not bad for trying out a new activity.

I kept thinking as I was getting my snowshoes on that standing up would feel like ice skating, but it didn't. There is nothing at all similar about ice skating and snowshoeing other than they both involve your feet and cold weather, ha ha.

The trail starts right outside of the Nordic Center. However, being new, we had no idea at first that we were on the cross country ski trail. We bumbled around for about 10 minutes, unsure of where we were supposed to be going until the person who helped us with our rental directed us to the trail. After that, it was super easy to follow the blue ribbons to stay on course. They were tied to trees, posts, bushes, and poles. There were other trails marked in other colors - we ended up taking blue around the lake, and then orange around another trail that took us past some lovely winter cabins. The two trails make a figure 8, and total about 1.5 miles.

The snowshoe trail is about 3 feet wide - wide enough for just a single person to snowshoe, and to pass others on the trail. By the time we started, the trail was pretty trampled, which was nice because it was less work, but kind of sad because it was fun to step on virgin snow. We each stepped a few feet off the track at some point just to make our own footsteps. It's fun to watch the snowshoes cut through the snow, and amazing to see how even though you sink a little, you still stay relatively higher than you would in regular shoes.

I used poles, and both boys used borrowed them for a time during our walk. Having poles isn't necessary in any way, but it makes it fun. I liked how they added an upper body component to the snowshoeing. (I've found this when I've used them hiking as well.) The poles were nice to have especially when going uphill. It took a little less strain off of of the legs.

Our little snowshoe adventure took us about 2 hours. We weren't trying to win any speed awards. We stopped and took pictures, laid in the snow to make snow angels, threw snowballs at trees, put snow down clothing (well, some of us), and admired the scenery. It was seriously such a gorgeous day - it was snowing just enough to be beautiful but not super cold. The wind was cold, but once you were moving, it sort of faded into the background, and was completely absent during our time on the orange Cabin trail, which is a little more sheltered.

I wore a pair of ColdGear UnderArmor tights, my snow pants, a pair of wool socks and a pair of acrylic (but my boots kept my feet so warm I would have been fine with one pair of socks), a short sleeve running shirt, a long sleeve running shirt, a running jacket, and a coat. I could have survived (and would have preferred) without my coat. I wore gloves sometimes, but other times I took them off because I was too hot or wanted to take pictures.

Once you get the rhythm down, you sort of forget you are wearing snowshoes at all. The kind I had required me to step toe-first instead of heel first, because the spikes were at the front of the snowshoes. There is a hinge that allows your hill to come up but the snowshoe to stay down.

Everyone had a great time. I would have loved to stay longer, but unknown to us until the very end, Ben had the stomach flu so he was more than ready to be done when we got back to the Nordic Center.We finished off the day by stopping at a cafe called Silver Fork Lodge for a delicious lunch.

Now for some pictures.

Not too bad for an inside girl, I'd say.

Have you ever been snowshoeing? Any advice or local trails you can recommend?


Feisty Harriet said...

Oooh, I love snowshoeing!! I think you've done more "official" shoeing than I have, I got my own pair a few years ago and have always just strapped them on and gone on a hiking trail covered in snow.

BUT!? I love it. So much fun!


Amy Sorensen said...

I still want to go snowshoeing. This looks fun!

(Except for the Snowbird part. Snowbird can F off. Hate you, Bob B.)

XO :)