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#88088 - 01/26/08 09:13 AM snowshoeing?
haikublue Offline
member

Registered: 04/29/07
Posts: 205
Loc: Berkeley, California
So...I have snubbed winter sports my whole life. They involve cold and wet...a combination I am not generally excited about. And I think I have read about and seen too many clips about avalanches. If I die in the back country in July from exposure or something, I will die doing what I love. If I die under a pile of snow...I will haunt skiiers for an eternity! (I am extremely clausterphobic) Skiing also involves speed (particularly down hill)...another thing I am not naturally drawn to and can be expensive (and there are soooo many people on those slopes!).

Hiking/backpacking is a great outdoors sport for me... while I am slow...I am determined and have endurance. Generally hiking/BP is close to free, warm spring-Fall and very fullfilling. But a taste of unusual, local snow has me checking out a ski bus (involves cookies and hot cocoa after all!) So now I am looking at snowshoeing with a moderate amount of both excitement and wariness! It sounds like hiking...in big shoes?

I am assuming I can just do this? I do not need some sort of lesson? How do you travel without a path (I haven't done off trail on any of my adventures and I am still hopeless with a compass. I am very naturally gifted with map reading/direction, but snow is a whole other thing.) Are there indicators sticking out of the snow or something? I am now romanticizing hiking up a hill of snow (though it sounds kind of hard) and hearing the sounds of winter quiet that someone had mentioned on here recently. I might be able to take the plunge (so late in life!). This would only be a day trip to get a taste...so no camping (unless someone had a really good idea about that for a winter beginner). I need to take the bus because I also don't know how to drive in snow. Man I sound pathetic!

Any ideas about snowshoeing, cross country skiing, gulp, resorts in Tahoe (California) would be appreciated. The ski bus goes to Kirkwood, Northstar, Sugarbowl (man that is a whole snow town!) etc. Since I may end up not embracing a winter sport, I am cool with other things to do should I abandon my plan mid way. At least some sort of restaurant/cafe should be an option as I will have to wait until the bus is ready to go back. How to best avoid avalanches would be helpful. I would probably pull the cord on that emergency gizmo mentioned in another thread if a pile of snow fell out of a tree on me! hahaha!

Please excuse my complete ignorance on this topic. I don't want to be the idiot that has a SARS team trying to find me! I am ready to have an adventure...and tired of waiting for Spring!

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#88089 - 01/26/08 09:30 AM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: haikublue]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
When you first start you should try to stay on trails that others have tracked. Most of the time you can walk on the trail with just shoes. The snowshoes just prevent the occasional postholing.

Everything moves slower in the snow. Take the time to layer, manage water etc. There is just a different winter pace.

Get good snow baskets for your poles.

Sometimes I am too lazy to layer at the right times and that sometimes casues me problems.

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#88090 - 01/26/08 09:59 AM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: ringtail]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Agree with food - get large basket poles - not easy these days. You need a pole that you can use to help stand up when you fall. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />A modern downhill pole will just push through ungroomed snow and be no help because the baskets are so small. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

Also stay on packed snowshoe trails and stay off ski trails. In loose powder you are far more apt to fall. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif" alt="" />In deep snow your shoes will not automatically be horizontal. If you fall. try to flip over so you are uphill from your shoes, then stand up. Remove pack if necessary. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
No Lessons required for snowshoeing - just general winter backcountry skills. A novice should take a gps and set the coodinates of their vehicle in it. AND carry some emergency supplies.
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#88091 - 01/26/08 10:05 AM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: Jimshaw]
haikublue Offline
member

Registered: 04/29/07
Posts: 205
Loc: Berkeley, California
Thanks! So...can I use my hiking poles and buy large baskets, or should I rent ski poles and add baskets?

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#88092 - 01/26/08 10:56 AM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: haikublue]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Quote:
Thanks! So...can I use my hiking poles and buy large baskets, or should I rent ski poles and add baskets?


Don't bother to get separate poles. I just use my same old trekking poles for snowshoeing or even cross-country skiing.

What brand do you have? If you have Komperdells, let me know, I have an extra pair of baskets that don't fit my poles. Check on the maker's website or if they sell them at REI, Campmor and so on, they may have the baskets. REI lists baskets for Komperdell, Scott and BD on their website. I have Leki poles and got baskets for them somewhere. A16 or Sport Chalet maybe, can't remember.

There isn't that much difference between trekking poles and collapsible ski poles except you won't find the shock absorbers in ski poles (don't think so anyway).

Snowshoeing isn't rocket science. There isn't much to it-figuring out how not to step on your own feet is about all there is to it. Turning around involves taking small side steps, outside shoe first (turning left, left foot first) otherwise you cross the back of the shoes and will trip yourself.

There are a few good books on snowshoe trails in CA-Michael C. White has books on Yosemite (Snowshoe Trails of Yosemite) and Tahoe. Got mine at REI or B&N, but Amazon should have them.

I carry a pack with extra clothes, food, canister stove, snow shovel, small sit pad (cut from a cheap blue sleeping bag pad, ten essentials-map, compass, etc.

REI sometimes has snowshoe classes at the stores and rents snowshoes.

Royal Gorge at Tahoe has miles of trails for XC skiing and snowshoers are welcome there-they rent snowshoes too, according to their website. I havent been there, but their website shows they have huts, cafes, pretty much anything you could want, plus a lot of beginner trails. It looks like a big ski resort,except not for downhilling-although it does have a few lifts for the steep parts for the more adventurous skiers, I suppose.
www.royalgorge.com

It is mostly flat or rolling hills from what I can gather from the website, so no avy danger. They groom the trails for skiers, and the snowshoers would follow the same trails, but off to the side (or maybe the middle) so you don't damage the ski tracks they cut into the trails.

If you can get to Donner Park at Donner Lake (you may need a car), that is easy, safe terrain. It is near Truckee off of 80. If you do go to Donner-don't buy a Sno-Park pass-it isn't good there. It has its own parking fee.


Edited by TomD (01/26/08 11:23 AM)

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#88093 - 01/26/08 11:01 AM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: haikublue]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Generally these days hiking poles are collapseable. You will be using them for high power moves (standing up) and you do not want them to collapse. If you trust your poles, buy large baskets (good luck friend) otherwise use a one piece pole with a large basket, again good luck - maybe antiques from ebay?
.
Since you almost always have the pole in your hand it will not have to collapse for carry in your pack. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
P.S.Oh one pole may be enough for snow shoeing. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

P.P.s. your pole can used to push down on the front tip of your snowshoe so you can lift the rear end of it say to back up or get around an obstacle or to get "unstuck". <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#88094 - 01/26/08 11:22 AM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: TomD]
haikublue Offline
member

Registered: 04/29/07
Posts: 205
Loc: Berkeley, California
I have some oldish REI poles...2004 I think (old in the techno world!) It sounds fun. I wouldn't have thought to bring a stove as I would be day hiking...good idea for sure! A sit pad is actually a really good idea too. I am so used to skimping on "comfort"items in the summer (happy sitting on the ground) but I need to think"snow!"

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#88095 - 01/26/08 11:43 AM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: haikublue]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
These pics are from a trip to Donner last winter. I did a snowshoe hike there also.
Donner trip report
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#88096 - 01/26/08 12:35 PM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: TomD]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
TomD
Nice pictures Tom. Did you cross the stream?

This one was taken in my backyard last week. Its my stream. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#88097 - 01/26/08 12:46 PM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: Jimshaw]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Jim, the only stream here is when the sprinklers break. Those pics are from last winter. There is a bridge over the stream where the road goes over it along the lake. Too bad you can't camp there in winter, it would be perfect for beginner campers, but they don't allow it. Not sure why; you can camp in summer.


Edited by TomD (01/26/08 12:48 PM)
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#88098 - 01/26/08 05:20 PM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: haikublue]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I've been to Sugar Bowl once, seems there is a xc ski area, where they have laid down a track for folks. I imagine you could get some shoes to rent somewhere and give it a shot. It is slow, tough going mostly, so your enthusiasm will decrease if proportion to have far back it is to the start.:) As Jim mentioned, stay out of the ski tracks no matter where you are as a courtesy, walk along side as much as possible. Boreal has some gentle terrain to head out on where you can avoid most skiers, then you can get a bite there also. The better terrain is on the east side where you will get into the lesser used runs. Call around to see if you can rent some shoes, REI in Sac? You would need to get back by closing or the next morning some places to avoid an additional day. Make an adventure, bring your bp stove, soup or whatever and have a meal out on the snow, bring a sit pad. Rambling here, if you go to a ski area, you won't need to worry about getting lost, if on fresh snow, follow your tracks back, check to see if you can use the area. If on fairly hard snow, pay attention, the sun will melt the evidence from where you came. A good time to go if the cold bothers you, is March-April when things get warmer, the snow should be firmer by then in the morning, so you will need to pay attention to where you came from. The roads will be in good shape, so you could drive up yourself. Lassen Park is a good spot, however, going in from the southwest entrance will involve staying on the unplowed road and you might get tired of the view or if you haven't been there, it might be neat watching the steam from mud pots etc., plus you wouldn't get lost. If you wanted to avoid the $10 entrance fee, about a mile or more after you turn off of 36, headed to the Park, there is a wide, plowed area you should easily see, park there, and shoe in on the unplowed road, weekend recreationists play there, so after a few hundred yards you will get a way from any used snow.? Some of us from another small forum go on trips through out the year. At least one trip planned in another month or so to Lassen for a snow camp trip.

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#88099 - 01/26/08 05:50 PM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: hikerduane]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
REI in Sac has snowshoes. I rented some there a couple of years ago. There are 3 in the area; one is along I 80 in Roseville, but if you wind up at Royal Gorge, you may as well get them there. Might be a bit more than REI, but will be convenient.

If you do go to REI, I'd call first, to make sure they have some that will fit you-they are sized according to body weight, not shoe size.

This site has lots of good snowshoe info--
www.snowshoemagazine.com
look for the First Timers Guide in the menu.


Edited by TomD (01/26/08 05:52 PM)
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#88100 - 01/26/08 06:37 PM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: TomD]
haikublue Offline
member

Registered: 04/29/07
Posts: 205
Loc: Berkeley, California
You guys are all so great! I also just realized there was a small section on snowshoeing on this site even! I'm getting kind of excited!

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#88101 - 01/26/08 07:46 PM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: haikublue]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
A fun way to try out snowshoeing right now it Yosemite. Look at the Web-Cam! They have snow on the valley floor! Nice civilized walking, great views and you can get hot cocoa at several spots around the valley. The road to the Badger Ski area is open and you can snowshoe on the road to Glacier Point.

I use Camp 4 (no reservation , $7 an night, open year round) and take two sleeping bags and eat breakfast at Yosemite Lodge or Curry Village. (Curry Village has the best coffee.) The great thing about winter camping in Yosemite is that they heat the bathrooms! And you can take a hot shower for $2 at Curry Village.

Also, you may just want to go up into the foothills and stay on a road. That way it is hard to get lost. Don't forget that darned Sno-Park pass. You have to pay to park at most areas where there are snowshoe trails. Be sure to go with someone. I think the groomed ski trails have fees. I never do these so do not know.

I also hate cold and true winter hiking (nasty windy below 0F stuff). I primarily use snowshoes in late Spring to get into areas I could not otherwise get to before snow melts off. The new MSR snowshoes are really nice - you can walk pretty natural. I use ski poles (or my trekking poles) and this helps too.

As for avalanches, the 24-hour period immediately after any snowstorm is the most dangerous. Look at avalance reports on the internet before you go out.

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#88102 - 01/26/08 08:23 PM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: wandering_daisy]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I had to make a decision Thursday morning to cancel a trip to Yosemite with some others and work on Friday instead because of the weather getting there and coming back. Turns out, we had received over two feet of snow on Friday where I live, so you know how my Friday night and the weekend started.

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#88103 - 01/26/08 10:05 PM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: wandering_daisy]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Yosemite is great. Easy snowshoeing on the trails around Badger Pass. Once in the park, there is afree bus to Badger Pass from the valley.

Two years ago, the whole valley floor was covered with snow, but last year, the only snow was in the high country. Looks like this year will repeat two years ago if it doesn't warm up.

I have some pics if anyone is interested. Here's a TR from my last trip.
trip report


Edited by TomD (01/26/08 10:09 PM)
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#88104 - 01/27/08 08:52 AM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: TomD]
haikublue Offline
member

Registered: 04/29/07
Posts: 205
Loc: Berkeley, California
So I got excited about Yosemite last night after reading WanderingDaisy's post and shot an email to a friend of mine about giving it a go over president's weekend. She shot me one back eagerly saying yes...now I am triple excited...and a touch overwhelmed. I never thought I would camp in snow and have never really looked into it. I am going to try to read as many posts as I can from this thread. Neither of us have the tiniest clue (or the equipment for that matter). Equipment, I can borrow. A clue...well that's another matter entirely. I imagine we will seriously wuss it our first time, not really camp very far out...even car camp or something. (man I thought that was long behind me). I definitely don't want to do anything crazy. There are even snowshoe hikes led by rangers there...not a bad first time idea. I'm trying to let go of my backpacking pride on this one! hahahaha! Any recommendations (easy-breezy campsites) books on snow camping etc. would be great and looked into!

Tom, those are gorgeous photos! How do you keep your camera dry in the snow? I will be bringing my digSLR.

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#88105 - 01/27/08 09:08 AM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: haikublue]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
haikublue
I snow camped at hogden meadows by the northern entrance to the park, years ago with my wife. It was her first and last snowcamp. She was plenty warm, just likes a warm shower in the morning. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Anyway if you're car camping don't waste energy going light. Use lots of insulating pads under you - atleast 1/2 inch thick - 1 inch of closed cell foam warmer - open cell on top of that makes it more comfy to sleep on. Big heavy cheapo sleeping bags are warm, and often zip together. Don't hesitate to carry spare blankets for over the top or wrapping yourselves in if you lack real winter clothes.

Don't worry. Just stay dry and don't let yourself get too cold before putting on the next layer. Have fun.
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#88106 - 01/27/08 10:23 AM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: haikublue]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
HB-sent you a PM.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#88107 - 01/27/08 02:02 PM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: TomD]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
no PM here? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#88108 - 01/27/08 04:11 PM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: Jimshaw]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Quote:
no PM here? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />


Oh stop whining-you have a stream and snow in your backyard, what more do you want? Hehehe.
Besides, you already know everything about Yosemite there is to know. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#88109 - 01/27/08 05:06 PM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: TomD]
haikublue Offline
member

Registered: 04/29/07
Posts: 205
Loc: Berkeley, California
Thanks everyone for your help! And the secret PM was chock full of goodies! hahahaha! sorry Jim... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> ooohhhh I figured out this site's smilies...now you'll all be sorry! My other site (rabbit village) put me in SA (Smiley Anonymous)!

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#88110 - 01/27/08 06:23 PM Re: snowshoeing? [Re: haikublue]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Hey, don't make the others jealous! You will get me in trouble.

I am going to post a Yosemite in winter summary, so everyone gets a peek. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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