Using Your New Snowshoes
By Chris Gorski
Snowshoeing may seem complicated, but we assure you it is not. This article will show you a few tricks which will make learning the wonderful new sport a breeze.
Putting The Snowshoe On:
After you have your desired footwear on (preferably a pair of waterproof warm hiking boots), it is time to strap into your new snowshoes. Be sure to put them on outside, as the crampons are sharp and will certainly tear up your floor. Once outside, place you foot over the top of the base of the binding (or slip your foot in if your bindings have a partially closed toe). The pivot point or hinge should be directly under the ball of your foot. Now you are ready to tighten the straps. First, tighten the very front strap; this will help to lock your foot in place. Next tighten the strap that goes around the back of your ankle. Once this is snug, go ahead and tighten the middle or instep strap. It is important that theses straps are snug, but not so tight that you cut off circulation or cramp your feet.
Your First Steps:
Now that you are strapped in and ready to go, here are some pointers that will help you with your first steps on snowshoes. It will be easiest to take your first steps on hard ground or packed snow rather than deep powder, as this will be more stable. Here is the trick: WALK NORMALY! That’s it. Most first time snowshoe users want to take really big first steps. This is a mistake. With the exception that your stance will be wider than when you normally walk, snowshoes are designed to be used in a regular walking manner.
Taking on the Tougher Stuff:
Now that you are comfortable on packed snow, it’s time to take on the slopes and the powder. When in deeper snow, it is important to lift your knees and avoid dragging your feet. This will help shake all the loose snow off the snowshoes and keep your crampons from dragging. As you begin to head up hill, use your toes to dig the crampon in to give you grip. When heading down hill, keep your weight centered, not on the tails. This will help keep you more stable and avoid slippage. If you find that you need to side step on a hill, take short steps and lean into the slope. This will help you from toppling over sideways.
Turning may be the trickiest maneuver to conquer. If you are at a standstill, be sure to lift your legs high so that they are fully clear of the deep snow. If you are moving, take small turning steps which will gradually turn you. If you need to make a full 180, lift your legs high and step one foot at a time.
That’s it! That is all there is too it! Now you can join the thousands who have taken up the wonderful sport of snowshoeing.
If you do fall while snowshoeing, there are a few tricks that will help you get back on your feet. The easiest way to get up after a fall is to roll onto your stomach. Once you are laying on your front, raise one knee your chest push yourself into a half kneeling position with your hands. Once in a kneeling position, use your knee to steady yourself and stand up straight. If you have poles, once you are in the half kneeling position, use your poles to prop yourself back into a standing position.
Rules of the Trail:
If you decide to take to the trails, there are a few rules of the road which are important.
1). Stay on the signed trail. Many snowshoe trails go through private property or fragile public lands. By staying on the trail you ensure that any fragile wildlife under the snow remains intact.
2). If you are using a groomed trail, there are usually designated lanes for snowshoes. This is because these trails are often shared by cross country skier who move quite a bit faster than snowshoers’. To prevent accidents and crashes, be sure to stay in your lane.
3). Always take your trash with you. Leaving trash or leftover food on the trail is bad for the local wildlife and litters the trail.
4). Always be sure to step just off the trail when stopping or resting. This will keep you out of harm’s way if an unexpected cross country skier or even snowmobiler comes along.
5). If you fall or somehow accidentally create a depression/hole in the trail, be sure to fill it in so as not to create a hazard for others.
6.) If you are snowshoeing in an urban environment, be sure to obey all traffic and yield signs. Always be aware of cars.