The Denver Photo Hikers Message Board › Seasonal Newsletter: Snowshoe Season is almost upon us!

Seasonal Newsletter: Snowshoe Season is almost upon us!

Erin S
user 58403502
Group Organizer
Golden, CO
Post #: 7
Hey Photo Hikers!

I just wanted to send out an update on some of our upcoming, unscheduled ideas for the winter snowshoe season. I realize not much has been posted lately due to the mud season depression of our scenic landscapes! (and, coincidentally / appropriately, I not only moved, but also started a new job, so haven't had much time to lead anything). Now that there are no pretty gold leaves to shoot, and pumpkin lattes are now feeling more appropriate for the season, snowshoe excursions will be upon us soon! We will soon have the opportunity to photograph glistening snow mounds and hopefully do so on some good "bluebird" days!

Ok, I know some of you are new to Colorado, so here's some new Colorado terminology for you:
"mud season"= An interlude between the standard tourist seasons of summer (hiking), fall (leaf peeping), and winter (skiing).

"Bluebird day"= A bright, clear, sunny day after a night of snowfall


So aside from the random snowshoe outings, here are some of the more "grande" (or venti? I'm apparently in Sunday morning coffee mode!) ideas I have for the winter scenic snowshoe season:
  • Weekend in Fraser Valley or Granby / Grand Lake via the scenic Amtrak train that goes through the 6-mile long Moffat Tunnel
  • Winter hike to Hanging Lake (you must see it in the Spring / Summer before you can appreciate it in the winter, however! -And I plan to schedule one for early June!)
  • Sand Dunes camping under a Full Moon
  • Bluebird Day snowshoeing Peru Creek near Keystone
Once I can start seeing how the winter snowfall is unfolding, these things will begin to be scheduled.


Equipment for the snowshoe season:
You'll want to invest in microspikes (anywhere from $20-60), as well as either rent or buy snowshoes.
  • Microspikes will be used in the event we get on a trail that doesn't have enough snow for snowshoes, and will protect you from falling on icy areas.
  • Snowshoe renting: Sports Authority is the least expensive place to rent at $10/day. They allow you to pick up after 2pm the day before, and return by noon the day after.
  • Purchasing Snowshoes: If you think you'll snowshoe at least 10 times this winter, it's a better value just to purchase rather than rent. You can get a pair for $150-250. TIP: REI will allow you to buy a pair, try them out, and return them, no questions asked. Remember, the cheaper the pair you buy, the less happy you'll be on the trail (as in the [un]fortunate experience I had with a pouty fit-throwing former boyfriend, who later had to throw his $80 snowshoes in the trash after half a season). Last year, I bought a pair with not only suspension for under the ball of your foot, but it also had a lever bar to lift up under the heel of your foot, which helped to level your feet during inclines and vice versa. If anything, at least get something with that bar! That was THE best thing ever! Beginners will especially appreciate that bar! Most of my experienced hiker friends swear on their MSR brand snowshoes, but I also liked the Atlas ones I had last year.
  • Misc items:
    Footwear:
    It is wise to choose your footwear according to your snowshoeing style. Leather hiking boots that have been waterproofed are great for hiking and backcountry trekking. Trail-running shoes are perfect for running and aerobic snowshoeing (look for waterproofing material). Snowboarding boots are also ideal for snowshoeing.

    Wool socks for hiking and/or a wool/silk combination for running are important to snowshoeing. Never wear cotton socks when in the snowy elements.

    And, if you plan to snowshoe in deep snow and don’t plan to stay on snow-packed trails, wear Gaiters to keep snow out of your boots and shoes. Gaiters are great selection for backcountry hikers.

    Clothing:
    Don’t be afraid to dress in layers. And, use layers that can be taken off with ease, considering in some cases it can get hot during the spring season. Consider wearing synthetics and wool to induce heat retention when wet. Long underwear is essential when snowshoeing and a zippered top lets you regulate body heat.

    Polyester fleece provides a great insulation, as it too retains heat when wet. And, a waterproof jacket (with breathable waterproof fabrics) will keep you dry and protect you from cold winds.

    The more obvious choices in winter wear are gloves, a hat, sunglasses (or goggles) and other personal selections.

For more info on getting prepared for the snowshoe season, this is a great article from Snowshoe Magazine that also includes a video for beginners: First-Timer's Guide to Snowshoeing (This is also good for the intermediate / experienced snowshoer who might need reminders at the beginning of the season.)

If anyone has ideas for places to go, please feel free to make it a suggested meetup. If your suggested meetup generates enough interest, I will make it an affirmative meetup! I, myself am pulling out my snowshoe trails book TODAY to start getting ideas for day-trips! An FYI: I generally have Wednesdays and Saturdays off, with a flexible boss, so I will be able to lead on those days with the ability to get one full weekend per month. Also, if you have a suggested meetup that is a fair distance from Denver, it is suggested that the hike is good enough to make the drive worth it. (Plenty of scenery, and lasts at least 3 hours)

I hope you all have been doing well in these last few off-season weeks, and we will see you on the trails soon! :)


-Erin
DPH Organizer
Don B.
user 11560826
Denver, CO
Post #: 8
This is really well done.
A former member
Post #: 6
Hi Erin! Thanks for this timely newsletter and very informational. I have been considering my first snowshoes and it is a confusing market. Anyone who has recommendations for a first time snowshoe on a budget is appreciated. Costco has the Yukon ones, but I see mixed reviews over many in price range <$100. - Michele
Bob B.
user 26176902
Erie, CO
Post #: 1
Hi Erin and All,

First, I'm sorry for having disappeared after our first hike, but things have gotten very hectic with work.

That said, I love snowshoeing, and plan to be out with you and likely lead a few treks as well. I bought the book Snowshoeing Colorado by Claire Walter (not sure if this is the same book Erin has), and so have several ideas for adventures of different levels of difficulty. The book has 64 trails in the Front Range, so we should be able to find something for everyone's levels.

One note about snowshoes - both the bindings and the size (length) matters. I started off back east with 27" shoes, which were fine but I did mainly easy trails. When I got out here I thought longer would be better so I bought a pair of pretty nice snowshoes but they are 30" - great for backpacking with a load, but not so great if you are trying to cut a tight path as I ended up stepping on one shoe with the other, particularly on a narrow trail. I just bought a pair of 25" shoes that I can't wait to try. You basically want to pick the size based on your weight plus whatever you are carrying or wearing. There are guides with each shoe brand.

Looking forward to the season! By the way I upgraded my park pass when it came time to renew, so now I have a full US pass that is also good at some Colorado state locations like Brainard Lake, which has an awesome reputation for snowshoeing!

Happy trails, and I'm looking forward to our hikes.

- Bob
Erin S
user 58403502
Group Organizer
Golden, CO
Post #: 8
Hi Erin! Thanks for this timely newsletter and very informational. I have been considering my first snowshoes and it is a confusing market. Anyone who has recommendations for a first time snowshoe on a budget is appreciated. Costco has the Yukon ones, but I see mixed reviews over many in price range <$100. - Michele

Hey Michele,
I have never heard of that brand, and you are correct- anything below $100 is bad news and a waste of money. Tubbs is a decent brand that costs a little less than Atlas or MSR's. And again, I highly, highly recommend getting something with the incline lever to lift up under your heel when going uphill. I highly recommend REI for purchasing snowshoes, or at least going there to speak to the expert in their department before purchasing elsewhere. I'm guessing the size you'll need will either be 21, 23, or 25. I went to REI, and after 5 uses of the snowshoes I bought from them, they still allowed me to return them due to the defective strap. So that's why I recommend REI (and I'm not even biased towards REI on a general level). Anywhere else, and they may not allow you to return your snowshoes regardless of the reason if they have been worn.

Hope this helps!
-Erin
Erin S
user 58403502
Group Organizer
Golden, CO
Post #: 9
Hi Erin and All,

First, I'm sorry for having disappeared after our first hike, but things have gotten very hectic with work.

That said, I love snowshoeing, and plan to be out with you and likely lead a few treks as well. I bought the book Snowshoeing Colorado by Claire Walter (not sure if this is the same book Erin has), and so have several ideas for adventures of different levels of difficulty. The book has 64 trails in the Front Range, so we should be able to find something for everyone's levels.

One note about snowshoes - both the bindings and the size (length) matters. I started off back east with 27" shoes, which were fine but I did mainly easy trails. When I got out here I thought longer would be better so I bought a pair of pretty nice snowshoes but they are 30" - great for backpacking with a load, but not so great if you are trying to cut a tight path as I ended up stepping on one shoe with the other, particularly on a narrow trail. I just bought a pair of 25" shoes that I can't wait to try. You basically want to pick the size based on your weight plus whatever you are carrying or wearing. There are guides with each shoe brand.

Looking forward to the season! By the way I upgraded my park pass when it came time to renew, so now I have a full US pass that is also good at some Colorado state locations like Brainard Lake, which has an awesome reputation for snowshoeing!

Happy trails, and I'm looking forward to our hikes.

- Bob


Hi Bob!
Great to hear from you! I have thought about you! I'm looking forward to having you on the hikes soon again! And yes, I think that IS the book I have!
-Erin
A former member
Post #: 7
Hey Erin!

This helps a lot. I am gonna rent first to get more educated. Requires a little more planning, but you make good recommendations. Another female friend reco'd Tubbs too. I saw a video of one with the incline lever too. That may be the way I go. Thanks.

Hi Erin! Thanks for this timely newsletter and very informational. I have been considering my first snowshoes and it is a confusing market. Anyone who has recommendations for a first time snowshoe on a budget is appreciated. Costco has the Yukon ones, but I see mixed reviews over many in price range <$100. - Michele

Hey Michele,
I have never heard of that brand, and you are correct- anything below $100 is bad news and a waste of money. Tubbs is a decent brand that costs a little less than Atlas or MSR's. And again, I highly, highly recommend getting something with the incline lever to lift up under your heel when going uphill. I highly recommend REI for purchasing snowshoes, or at least going there to speak to the expert in their department before purchasing elsewhere. I'm guessing the size you'll need will either be 21, 23, or 25. I went to REI, and after 5 uses of the snowshoes I bought from them, they still allowed me to return them due to the defective strap. So that's why I recommend REI (and I'm not even biased towards REI on a general level). Anywhere else, and they may not allow you to return your snowshoes regardless of the reason if they have been worn.

Hope this helps!
-Erin

A former member
Post #: 1
Excellent information Erin...thank you for sharing!
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