Snowshoeing in Santa Fe

Winter Aspens, photo by Karen Denison, Outspire

This week’s guest blogger is Karen Denison, the owner of Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing in Santa Fe, NM.

“The…fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?” J. B. Priestley

Our Land of Enchantment happily includes the magic of snow. The cool, green mountains of summer are transformed into glittering wonderlands by snowfall and the blue sky that follows. Snowshoeing is one of the easiest ways to enjoy the magic.

In my youth, snowshoes were big, wooden, practical affairs used for the business of getting around when other means failed. Covering distance with 4-foot-long Michigan-style beavertails was work. But two brothers in Washington State changed the snowshoeing world in 1972 when they designed the first aluminum-framed, oval snowshoes.  Snowshoes from Sherpa started a revolution which continues today with the development of lighter, tougher, easier-to-use snowshoes for all conditions.

Today, many recreational models are available. Ones meant for on-trail use, ones for back country travel-there are even tiny snowshoes for running races. Plenty of good, middle-of-the-road models for casual use are easy to find and use.

What to buy? All snowshoes are not created equal. My suggestion is to rent, take a class or go on a guided outing first. If you’re doing it yourself, ask for advice on what to try and practice putting the snowshoes on over your boots in the comfort of home. Once you’ve been out on the snow with snowshoes, the seemingly small differences in bindings (the fastenings to your boots), cleats and other features become more apparent.

Dressing for the weather is important. Since snowshoeing is exercise, there is a trade-off between becoming too warm and staying warm enough. Layering, especially with moisture-transporting fabrics, is the way to go. A daypack is valuable for carrying the extra clothing, water and other supplies. Poles are multi-function tools and a great help when used appropriately.

Take a thermos of hot chocolate, a map and a friend. Two or three hours on trail are rejuvenating. The solitude of the snowy woods is a fine antidote for the noise of daily life. Make a little room in your busy schedule for snowshoeing this year!

Karen Denison is owner of Outspire Hiking and Snowshoeing, a private guide service in Santa Fe, NM.  She has taught outdoor skills workshops (including snowshoeing) for the last twelve years at Santa Fe Community College. She’s  been an instructor in New Mexico for Becoming an Outdoors Woman for thirteen years.  Check out her blog.

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2 Responses to “Snowshoeing in Santa Fe”

  1. Charles Higgins
    December 30, 2019 at 7:33 pm #

    Great info about this outdoor activity..


  2. Spencer
    January 15, 2019 at 11:52 pm #

    Interesting post and very inspiring picture. The snow looks awesome.

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