By Candyce H. Stapen
We love snowshoeing: it gets us into the winter woods without whizzing motors or gasoline smells. And snowshoeing is easy to do. Thatís a big bonus for us, adventurers who are willing but not too athletic. After all, if you can walk, you can snowshoe. This sport, one of the few without a frustrating learning curve, comes almost naturally. Even kids as young as 5 enjoy the forest on their first foray with these Amagic@ shoes that move as easily as they do.
For those who think snowshoeing is boring, think again. Classic fairytales begin in snow blanketed forests where icicles lace the pine trees and the wind creates a fluttery dance of sun and shadow on the fresh, morning powder. Thatís the setting we enter on our guided snowshoe hike with the Norwegian Outdoor Exploration Center, Park City, Utah.
To those who remember the tennis racket-like, wooden shoes from grandmaís attic or have some of that ancient equipment in the garage--leave it there. Modern snowshoes, high-tech and short are effortless to use. Rentals also cost much less than rentals for skis, a boon if you are renting gear for an entire family.
Also, the slow pace encourages conversation and discovery. Instead of rushing by details, we notice them. That's a major part of "friluftslib," Norwegian for "open air life," the philosophy espoused by the Norwegian Outdoor Exploration Center.
On our snowshoe trip into Daly Canyon, our guide Brett encourages us to use our senses to experience "the simple life in nature." Several yards into our trail beyond the parking lot and the noisy pack of snowmobiles, Brett asks us to listen. We hear the soft crunch of the crampons, the snowshoe's "teeth," as they dig into the path. Later on Brett asks us to look around at the surrounding Aspen grove, their white limbs swaying in the wind. At the top of a small hill, we pause to watch a flurry of whirring snowflakes thicken into a sorcerers' swirl.
My daughter giggles behind me. When I turn around she points out that I have been walking for five minutes minus one snowshoe. The equipmentís so lightweight and I am so in thrall of the wintry woods that I didnít even notice. There's something special, at once humbling and awe inspiring, about meeting nature freely, without the din of motorized vehicles or the dizzying speed of fast equipment. The point of snowshoeing is just to be there, enjoying the winter wonderland.