1 February, 2024
I have always wanted to try snowshoeing as I love snow and I love hiking. Snowshoe trekking is a way of venturing deeper into the natural surroundings and tracing your own way through this pristine environment.
Want a snowy adventure but don't fancy skiing? Why not give snowshoeing. Imagine walking through snow-covered forests, along frozen lakes or on white peaks.
Snowshoeing is a bit like wearing mini skis on your feet and it helps you walk across snow more evenly, without sinking into it. Trappers first used this mode of movement across the snow as they hunted in the winter, and it remains a simple but incredibly enjoyable and uncomplicated way of walking in winter. Poles also aid the movement to make it easier. It is great exercise and a wonderful way to enjoy being outside.
A snowshoe walk is a great alternative to a day on the slopes and most ski areas offer marked trails to try it for yourself. If it is your first time you might want to have a lesson to learn the basics and out with a guide. Snowshoeing with a guide can give you the freedom to explore the snowy peaks off the beaten track without getting lost. I had a lesson in how to start snowshoeing in Le Semnoz, in the French Alps with Alain from Bureau des Guides d'Annecy.
To take part you need suitable clothing to wick away sweat such as activewear. Layers with clothing that can handle cold, wet conditions are ideal. You will also require appropriate sturdy walking boots or warm, waterproof boots such as snow boots to protect your ankles. Wool or synthetic socks that wick sweat are a must - carry an extra pair in case yours get soaked. You may want to wear skiwear to keep you warm but, depending on how far you are walking, you may find that outer layers such as ski trousers and jacket will have you sweating buckets! A woolly hat and waterproof ski gloves are a must to keep your hands dry and warm.
Sun cream is also needed, a hat and sunglasses. Plus a backpack with water and snacks too. You obviously will need snowshoes and poles too, these can be hired if necessary. Alain provided these, helped us fit them and showed us how to walk in them.
As for normal hiking, layers are the order of the day. Light, quick-drying material is best, with a warm fleece or quilted coat, but with lightweight rainwear for the top and bottom – and don’t forget your sun cream.
We started off by crossing through a magical forest winter wonderland. It's quite easy to walk in the shoes once you get started and the poles really help. The forest was absolutely beautiful and we were gasping in awe at the sheer beauty of the unspoilt snow and white trees. It started to get steep as we went up the side of the mountain. I found it quite hard going to begin with until I hit my stride, it is a really good workout!
You can change the angle of the shoes to help you get up the hill though and it is best to really dig our poles in. I was quite pleased when we were finally up higher. I found it much easier to come down and I didn't have to stop for breath as much!
Stay within the limits of your knowledge, conditioning, the environment and your gear. Use established trails at first. Using resort trails keeps you closer to potential help, and reduces the risk from avalanches. Avoid snowshoeing alone whenever possible. Carry water and a means of calling for help as well as spare clothing layers and a map.
Take a minute to read about about snowshoeing etiquette - you do not have to stick to trails but you probably will. If you share a trail with cross-country skiers or snowmobilers then know when you need to get out of the way and where you are permitted to walk.
Snowshoeing tour arranged through the Lake Annecy Tourist Office.
Follow my adventures on Instagram @natashastarseeker
I have an outdoor adventures blog. Having three children, I am particularly interested in getting outside with my family. I aim to make every day an adventure, especially with my children, husband, dogs and friends. From exploring new cities to being in our campervan with the dogs, we like an adventure. We live near the sea and forest and explore every day.
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