# Saturday, June 16, 2012
I think a year or so ago if anyone ever told me I'd ride a horse, I'd have said you were mistaken. I don't know if being a city girl it just didn't appeal to me or if it was just that I was too nervous to trust an animal to carry me. Plus, I was never one of those little girls who grew up fantasizing about having a pony, though I had friends with pictures of horses plastered on their bedroom walls and never quite understood. My only real exposure to horses was as a counselor-in-training at a youth camp where my rotation in the horse barn never consisted of riding, like I thought, but cleaning up manure while everyone else went off trail riding. Maybe I resented the horses for having to clean up their bowel movements.

Nonetheless, I now realize that I never really gave these animals or their sport much of a chance, which seems a little unfair (not just to the horses, but also family and an ex-boyfriend I can recall trying to get me on one, as well.)

So this morning with a group of some of the Front Desk agents at Waterton Lakes Lodge, Geoff, Raelene, Adrianna and Tamara, we all drove out to Mountain Meadows Trail Rides, just outside the park, in Mountain View. They graciously invited some of the local staff in the park to come out and take a trail ride to see what they're all about. Located just off the main highway, with a beautiful log cabin and mountain scenery all around, the Nelson Ranch has existed there since 1898. Dan and Terri Nelson and their family oversee this homestead, sharing Western hospitality with their guests. They made us feel really welcome and told us a little bit about their Ranch until a few more people coming on the trail ride and our guides showed up. Then we all went outside to saddle up on our horses.

I was a bit nervous at first, looking off in the distance at where we'd be riding and that I'd be trusting a horse to take me there. Thankfully, I wasn't the only one...about 14 of us total went on the ride together and only one or two girls had ever ridden before, and others were nervous too. I started out on a chocolate coloured horse, named Joe. He was standing off in the distance looking very calm and aloof. I secretly hoped to get him when I first laid eyes on him, hoping I would get a mellowed-out horse. It was just my luck, he turned out to be the horse picked out for me. When I climbed on, he even fell asleep and dozed off as we waited for others to be assigned horses.

So as we left on the trail, it took a minute or two to relax and just let Joe do his thing. The guides we had were really great. They showed us all how to steer and stop our horses and were by your side the moment you felt like you needed help. Joe was pretty slow and we kept to the back of the line as we went out on the trail, but he was even slower behind Geoff on his horse Tucson. Tucson was nibbling away all along the start of the ride, stopping to eat plants and then go to the bathroom and then walking and stopping to eat. I didn't mind at first because it gave me a chance to feel comfortable. I got a bit nervous when suddenly Joe wanted to pick up the pace and got into a fast trot, sprinting after his friends. One of the guides helped to gain control and explained to me that the sudden trotting was normal. Horses are really social animals. They don't like to be left behind of their pack, so they will do whatever they can to stay with the group. "He's not going to suddenly run away with me strapped to him, is he?" I asked feeling a little embarassed. I was assured that was almost a non-occurance and that Joe just wanted to catch up with his friends. Once I got a better balance of myself in the saddle I started to feel a little more comfortable letting him trot with me and didn't try to control things so much. 

Half way through, at the lookout point where we stopped, you got an amazing view of Waterton in the distance. One of the other guides said that my horse could at times be difficult with people and wasn't the most obedient. He did have a mind of his own, I'd noticed a few times when I tried to steer away from trees and he still led me to graze the branches just a little. So she let me trade horses with her, and I rode the last half on Dixie. She was supposedly the fastest horse and I was warned that she would want to keep at the front of the pack, so I'd be in for an adventurous ride. However, she can take direction very well and keeps a steady trot, rather than going slow and then picking up a surprisingly fast pace like Joe had.

The rest of the trail, I was surprised how comfortable I felt with Dixie and confident in her. I had a lot of fun, but I was also a little bit glad to see the ranch by the time we got to the end. It was an incredible ride! I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone who wants to explore the Waterton area in a really unique way. I will never forget this trail ride! If you've never done horseback riding before, you can expect to be a bit achy in the bum and the knees after, but it was definitely worth it. -Marie

Mountain Meadows is online: www.mountainmeadowtrailrides.com If you're in the Waterton area, check it out- -you will have a truly unforgettable experience! We went on an hour and a half ride, but they also offer trail rides for longer periods of time, overnight wilderness horseback adventures, and a western cookout ride that includes a steak dinner at various prices you can check out on their website. Also, if you're a guest at the Waterton Lakes Lodge, Crandell Mountain Lodge or Aspen Village Inn and are thinking of booking a trail ride, talk to a Front Desk agent, they are able to give you a referral that entitles you to a discount.

*Some of these photos were taken by myself and some were taken by Geoff Hodson.*

posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 3:42:20 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, May 25, 2012
Late April

It was a beautiful spring day in Waterton. The grass was starting to grow, the snow was gone. The bighorn sheep were in town laying on my friend, Brad Remington’s lawn.

2000 feet up at Little Prairie (the start of the cross country ski trail leading to Cameron Lake) there was still mounds of snow. We were going to Summit Forum Ridge and ski down into Cameron Lake. It was a beautiful day.

The best way to Summit Forum Ridge is to go to the Cameron Lake parking lot and at the little washroom building turn and head up the gully that leads to the Ridge and just climb through the trees to the Ridge and then once you get to the Ridge you will see a cut line that takes you right up to the top of the Ridge.

Once at the Ridge you can go along and try to find the best lines down. On powder days it is amazing on Forum Ridge. Today, of course, it was a little warm so it was more slushy spring skiing.

It was a crazy day in that it was hot and sunny and then snowed and then was warm and sunny again. The lake was frozen and we were able to cross the lake all the way home.

Another beautiful day in Waterton... keep hiking (skiing).


posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 10:50:37 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Friday, May 18, 2012
To me, Tuesday was a near perfect afternoon in Waterton. The sun was shining, it was at least 25 degrees out and my boyfriend and I both had the afternoon off. So we loaded up the trunk of our car with a big blanket, two lawn chairs, 2 painting easels, our acrylic paints and painting brushes, 2 canvases and a cooler bag full of cold drinks and snacks. Then we drove up just outside the park gates, to the Maskinonge picnic area and found the perfect location, tucked away in the trees and tall grass, on the waterfront, with a picnic table in the sun.

What's great is that there's almost never anyone there so it's quiet with lots of privacy. It's the perfect romantic spot for a picnic...hmm, perhaps I should not being giving the secret away about this hidden gem in Waterton.

We spread out our old blanket on the ground, I laid out on it and sketched my view of the lake with Vimy behind it. It was really relaxing to soak up the sun, perfect to tan (although don't get me wrong, my pale skin courtesy of my Scottish heritage always requires sunscreen.) While I did that, Geoff ventured into the trees and bush to set up his easel as he was desiring to capture a scene with an unobstructed view. I was happy to stay where I was, going back and forth between the picnic table and the ground, after going to pass him a paintbrush and getting pricked by some thorns.

Only 2 cars drove by in the span of the whole afternoon we hung out there. From what I've heard this is an excellent place to birdwatch and I'd believe it. There were so many different birds we saw, I don't know too much about them but I do know we saw woodpeckers and could certainly hear them! You could hear distant drilling into tree bark and lots of chirping birds.

Another really cool thing that you can see are two Beaver Bundles. The Maskinonge is a sacred place for the Blackfoot people (also called Niitsitapii.) These were the most sacred and important bundles, given to the Piikani at the Maskinonge, over 1,000 years ago by the Beaver people. The bundle is still
used now in religious ceremonies and are said to contain the essence of spring, which is opened when the first thunder crashes across the mountains.

We didn't finish our paintings that day but I'm planning to do a little work on mine at home and go back when the weather agrees and I have some more time off. This is why I won't post pictures of what I've done just yet.

Leonardo da Vinci said that "painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt..." I couldn't agree more. I love my camera and going on different conquests to get photos of nature and wildlife, but there's something so personal and heartfelt when you spend hours creating a picture with your hands and so much more to the memory and experience. Waterton has no shortage of inspiration to paint either. I think I still have quite a few paintings left to make in my time here. -Marie

posted on Friday, May 18, 2012 1:21:22 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, April 20, 2012
I've now officially been living in Waterton for a year, April 4th. Over this year, there have been many great opportunities to see to wildlife. I've seen bears, foxes, beavers, wolves, coyotes, bunnies, longhorn sheep, elk, deer, to name a few...but I hadn't seen the one animal I really wanted to spot: a moose.

I think my curiosity started when we first got here and people told us to watch for wildlife on the roads, when we were coming to and from Pincher Creek or Cardston. We were told to really watch for deer, as they like to surprise motorists. We were also told "hit a moose, and you're a goner." While the idea was mildly frightening, it stirred an interest in me and I began to wonder how often one does spot a moose around the park.
During the summer, my boyfriend Geoff and I went canoeing up at Cameron Lake. In the boat rental shop, they have photographs up on the walls of moose swimming in the lake (for the record the plural of a moose is moose...I doubted that for a minute there and looked it up on Google to be sure it wasn't meese or mooses. Haha.) As we paddled across the lake in our own canoe, I got really excited when we heard loud animal groaning noises, thinking we would also see moose. When we got closer, it turned out to be young bears swimming, which was just as thrilling to see, but a small part of me had hoped to see moose. (See previous blog entry Cameron Lake Cannonballing Grizzly Bears And Seasonal Transformations)

Recently on a lunch break, I was sitting in the break room with Geoff and we were talking to one of the maintenance guys, Roy. Somehow we got on the topic of moose and I had said I was disappointed to have not to have seen one yet. Geoff had seen one on a grocery trip to Pincher Creek, and other times we had driven around that way near Shintangle Spring, before that big lookout point that rounds a cliff, looking for moose. I even recall seeing something on Parks' Twitter page about a moose living on one of the ranch properties just outside the park gate and going on that as a hunch to spot a moose. Yet, for all the times I've consciously drove around looking for one with my camera, or even just brought my camera along on a trip to pick up groceries in case there was an off-chance of seeing one, it just didn't happen. Roy told us that he had 2 moose living behind his property, just outside the park and that we were welcome to drop by to look for it. Added bonus: one moose is a partial albino, with white spotting on its legs.
Really excited, after work we drove out with two of our friends Troy and Trina who came along for the ride and to go for dinner in town afterwords. I wore my big galoshes and Troy was wearing Crocs, which just goes to show, he wasn't expecting to be trudging around in mud and snow down a hill, into the bush and near a ravine far behind the property. Trina waited in the car and the three of us set out to find a moose. However, the fact we chatted the whole way and stomped around quite loudly, probably didn't help our chances. We didn't see anything. We still had fun.

After all this, I think my expectations began to lower or it just sort of subsided to the back of my mind....BUT then it happened, and when I least expected it. I was having a not-so-great day and in a less than pleasant mood, when I had to drive into Pincher Creek for an errand. We were driving along when suddenly I saw something large and brown out of the corner of my eye. I turned and saw him- -it was a moose. He trotted along and stopped just short of the road. We hit our brakes and backed up hoping to get a photo on our phones (of course, the one time I didn't grab my Canon Rebel.) He ran out across the street behind our parked car and skipped, jumping over a fence. Then he ran off into the distance. Another one was on the other side of the street, but it quickly ran off too. All the horses on the farm stood still almost in shock, not sure what was going on- -our car and 3 others pulled over, people with cameras & camera phones, and two big moose darting across their pasture. I do have to say, my crummy day immediately turned around from the point. I saw my moose, plural.

posted on Friday, April 20, 2012 3:04:36 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, March 10, 2012

On Friday March 10, 2011, John Elford, Waterton couple Dan and Martina, and I skied from the Cameron Lake winter trailhead (called Little Prairie) to Cameron Lake, up the normal summer Summit Lake Trail to the saddle above Cameron Lake and then south to Summit Knob. Chick Scott, a famous touring skier, says that the downhill is the dessert but the meat and potatoes is up. I always liked dessert better and alpine tour skiing is no different. I took two and a half hours to get up and one hour to get back to the truck.

Parks Canada rated the avalanche danger as considerable.  The next day we tried to do the Alderson Carthew trail but after looking at the snow to the summit we decided just to ski back to Cameron Lake as we were not sure the slope getting to the summit would hold and we a little concerned about  the slope  we could not see going into upper Carthew and the slope after lower Carthew going in Alderson.  

The following picture is a picture of the Parks Canada sign marking the Little Prairie trail head.


The only area rated dangerous on the map that we were in is the slope down to Cameron Lake.  You will notice that Summit Nob (on the left slope of the lake and just above the summer summit trail also known as the Carthew-Alderson Trail) is not in the avalanche danger.

 The next day we tried to do the Alderson Carthew trail but after looking at the snow to the summit we decided just to ski back to Cameron Lake as we were not sure the slope getting to the summit would hold and we a little concerned about the slope we could not see going into upper Carthew and the slope after lower Carthew going in Alderson.  (The summit which overlooks the Carthew Lakes is just off the Park Canada Avalanche map to the far upper left of the map.) A great shot of what we were looking at for avalanche danger is in the two pictures below.   The first picture is the actual summit that is the far right side of the second picture.  We considered staying just below the rock crops but thought it may slide above the rock crops. You will notice the actual summit is windswept.  The issue was getting there.


I took a picture of the 3-D map at the Cameron Lake visitors centre, which shows the route we wanted to take roughly along the summer summit trail.

The entire trip takes about 4 ½ hours by the time you have lunch and take pictures.  It takes 40 minutes to Cameron Lake, one hour to the start of the climb up the ridge to the summit saddle and an hour to an hour and a half up to summit knob.  

It was a warm day; 9 Celsius (48 Fahrenheit) but a lot of snow.  We can tour at least until the first of June.  It was a sunny day but some wind. 

The day for us always starts at the Waterton Lakes Lodge (which rents skis) to get a lunch.

The climb is tough for a fat old man (now 50) but the rewards are worth it and the exercise needed.


At the top of Summit Knob, you can see the skiing on Forum Ridge, which is on the West side of Cameron Lake. The ski trail ends on Cameron Lake as well.  The trail head is at the washrooms as you come into Cameron Lake.

The skiing was heavy, unless in the trees, where the snow was much better.

On the way home on the second day, John jumped off the visitor centre.

Coming off of the Cameron slope to the lake makes for a much easier trail home.


posted on Saturday, March 10, 2012 4:46:26 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, February 20, 2012
Waterton Lakes National Park
Family Day, February 20/2012

About 3pm my husband and I picked up the alpine touring skis and poles from Waterton Lakes Resort front desk and drove up the Cameron Road as far as the Crandell Lake trailhead. We put on our regular ski boots and clipped into the touring skis and started up the trail. The trail is well traveled and easy to follow. The afternoon was just beautiful; about minus 3Celcius, a light breeze and overcast. We met two families with young children coming back from the lake on snowshoes and on foot.

Because the bindings allowed the heel to lift as we walked up the trail, and with the “skins” (a thin layer of cloth) attached to the bottom of the skis, uphill climbing was no problem – just a gentle work-out. We did stop and rest more as we neared the lake where the trail takes a steeper pitch. At the top, we removed the skins for the ski down (a fairly simple procedure). The downhill was a bit uncomfortable for me on the steeper sections as the trail was also pretty narrow compared to a normal ski run, but I managed alright by doing a lot of snow-ploughing. Lockey skied ahead and would yell back when it was necessary to keep up the speed for the next uphill section. We did have to walk uphill a couple of times. Without the added grip of the skins, this was a good arm workout using the poles and manoeuvring the skis somewhat sideways uphill, but it was not extensive.

Lockey kept his heels locked into the bindings on the way down, but I found it was easier to unlock my heels. I would recommend a pair of very comfortable ski boots, as the walking did create some rubbing on the ankles. I hope to try a pair of alpine touring boots for the next trip, which are lighter and probably more comfortable than traditional downhill ski boots.

I did not find this a very significant aerobic workout (about 2km round trip), but once I get used to the trail and feel of the skis and am more proficient at moving, I can push myself more. I do have soreness in the calves today, indicating that I was getting exercise! Another beautiful and fun day in Waterton!

posted on Monday, February 20, 2012 5:17:36 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Remember to bring your cameras to WinterFest! More details to follow. This is a photo contest judging the best photos taken during your experience at WinterFest 2012: from February 18th to 20th.
posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 11:25:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, February 07, 2012
It's a just a little bit more than a week away until Winter Fest in Waterton, which is exciting! It is an annual event put on by Parks Canada with the Waterton Chamber of Commerce, including the Waterton Lakes Lodge over Family Day weekend, February 18th to 20th.

There is always an abundance of snow in the park until about mid-June, so if you're looking for outdoor adventure, you have nothing to worry about but there are also plenty of indoor activities being hosted at the Lodge, as well.

  • Hot chocolate: Available before or after you hit the ski trails, daily from 11 AM to 3 PM at the Little Prairie picnic shelter on the Akamina Parkway.
  • Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing: If you own a pair, bring em! Hit Cameron Lake trail, Dipper Trail or whatever tickles your fancy (depending on your level of experience.) If you don't own a pair, don't worry! Waterton Lakes Lodge Resort will rent you a pair for $15/day (tip: the earlier you get there, the better, there are a limited amount of each size of equipment available.)
  • Guided cross-country ski tours: These are available daily at 10 AM and 12:30 PM with Waterton Outdoor Adventures, but they only take a maximum of 12 people at a time, so register in advance by calling 403-859-2150 on Feb. 16th and 17th.
  • Tobogganing: With an abundance of snow in the park, you can find small hills at the community playground, the baseball field or go to Bertha hill. Bring your sleds, GTs, crazy carpets, flying saucers and bundle up!
  • Horse-drawn carriage rides: For a uniquely scenic winter tour of the park, available daily from 11 AM to 4 PM, sign up at the front desk of the Waterton Lakes Lodge or call in advance to book at 403-859-2150.
  • Indoor Pool party: Warm up in the hot-tub and splash around in the pool at the rec. centre from 1 PM to 9 PM.
  • Family crafts and board games at the Waterton Lakes Lodge: Come warm up and enjoy some indoor fun from 1 PM to 9 PM.
  • Parks Canada's ImagiNATION: At the Lodge, come enjoy a program of story and song about some Canadian history.
  • Live Music by Andrew Scott: Saturday and Sunday night at 7 PM, come to Vimy's Lounge and Grill in the main building of the Waterton Lakes Lodge. Enjoy a great live musical act, next to the fireside. Goes perfect with a warm meal and an adult (spiked) hot chocolate.
  • Stargazing with the Royal Astronomical Society: Held in the Alpine Room at the Waterton Lakes Lodge, Saturday night come stargaze. Sunday night, come for a presentation on the night sky.
  • Winter Photo Contest: Following the success of the Experience Waterton photo contest, photographers, bring out your cameras and stayed tuned for details of a NEW winter photo competition, prizes to be announced!

Looking forward to seeing you there!

For more information, go to www.pc.gc.ca/waterton or contact Parks Canada at 403-859-5133, or the Waterton Lakes Lodge Resort at 403-859-5120.

photo taken by Francois Blouin & family at last year's Winter Fest 2011
posted on Tuesday, February 07, 2012 10:02:11 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, January 16, 2012
According to a recent article in the UK Daily Mail, the top ten most popular New Year's Resolutions for 2012 are:
1. Losing weight
2.Getting fit
3. Eating healthier
4. Saving money and spending less
5. Getting a new job
6. Spending more time with people who matter
7. Trying new things
8. Getting out of a rut
9. Going on vacation/visiting a new country
10. Reading more

I feel like I tend not to set New Year's resolutions. Or at least, that is, I think I don't... Maybe I do and I just don't call them that. I think I have a general idea about 2012 on the whole, as a unit of time and I think about all of the things I'd like to do over the coming year, but I like to keep things somewhat spontaneous. I also feel like by not setting defined terms that are too specific, I will have nothing to be disappointed about if things don't work out.

When I look at this top ten list, these are things most people would like to accomplish, and I wouldn't exclude myself. However, I think a lot of these coincide with other things I would like to generally improve upon or find more enjoyment in, anyways, which I suppose makes them some of my own resolutions on my own terms.

I am trying to get into better shape, but that coincides with a lot of the things I want to enjoy in Waterton. I have the great fortune of living in some people's vacation dreamland, an untouched natural wonder, full of adventure. I don't know how anyone could not take advantage of all of the great things the park has to offer. This winter, I'm going to ski and snowshoe to my heart's content and enjoy burning calories, outdoors with mountains, lakes, wildlife around me and my camera in hand. I've also been doing yoga in my down time, which has many great benefits. Some of the benefits I've enjoyed most are the stamina and flexibility I have to go skiing, from getting a good stretch and practiced breathing beforehand. This summer, I plan to hike as much as possible and take as many photos as I can too, which goes with getting fit but is a past-time I really enjoy, regardless.

I also feel like by doing all of these awesome physical activities, I'm going to save a bit of money too and spend more quality time with the people I care about (more resolutions on their list.) Rather than spending money to drive somewhere out of the park on my day off, or just go to the bar every night (which of course, I'll still do.. just not as often) I want to try to explore within the park more and do things I haven't done yet (see #7: trying new things.) One of my favourite activities this past summer, in addition to hiking, was hanging out on the beach at the Dardinelles. We would bring our fishing rods, cold drinks and snacks to sit on the edge of the water and cast a line out. We would wear our swim suits, and if we were feeling brave, might jump into the glacial water for a quick swim. A few times, my boyfriend and I brought our paint sets and easels, and painted on the beach. Other favourite and relatively money-smart summer past-times were: roasting hot dogs over the campfire with friends, going swimming/hot-tubbing at the rec centre and taking turns having dinner-and-movie nights at friends' homes.

I suppose I'd like to read more too (#10.) With Waterton being so quiet in winter, it's the perfect time to curl up with a book and I just ordered 3 new books from Indigo, with a gift card my aunt, cousins and uncle gave me for Christmas. I also love to cook and I do want to eat healthier, but I want to make things that also taste delicious and don't compromise my enjoyment for food. As for the rest of the list, my job is awesome (#5)- -I'm at work right now, blogging and it's in my job description! I don't feel like I'm in a rut(#8)- -I feel pretty happy with the direction of my life right now. Going on vacation (#9)? sounds good, an escape from the snow eventually could be pretty nice or even going downhill skiing one of these weekends might be fun. Geoff and I have been talking about going to Castle Mountain, Fernie or Banff for some fun. It's good to have a change of scenery every now and then.
These are my non-resolution resolutions for 2012 and I wish you all of the best for whatever resolutions you may or may not have. One suggestion for your 2012 goals: make a trip to Waterton!

posted on Monday, January 16, 2012 10:21:39 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, January 07, 2012
This week, I returned back to the park after 2 weeks of vacation in Ontario to visit family and friends over the Christmas holidays. One of my goals in 2012 is to be more active and get into better shape. The Waterton-Glacier Relay is in June and I would really like to be fit enough to run this year. Not to mention, turkey dinner, too many holiday goodies and many variations on leftover turkey over the break has left me wanting to shed a few new pounds added. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing seem like a perfect way to change up my regular exercise routine I'm trying to get back into.

There isn't a lot of snow in the townsite right now, but out on all of the trails, there is a generous heaping of snow to keep winter adventurers content. A few days ago I hit the Cameron Lake ski trail with Geoff and our friends Brandon and Jane. We picked up some cross-country skis for rent over at the Waterton Lakes Lodge, loaded up the cars and drove up the winding and hilly road to the trailhead, a little more than an hour before dusk. (It's best to get there early: skiing has been very popular this winter, especially with families on holiday break over the last few weeks. There is a limited amount of the various ski and pole sizes available.)
Yesterday, Geoff and I rented snowshoes and ski poles at the Waterton Lakes Lodge and drove up Cameron Lake Road to the Dipper Trail where we snowshoed over towards the Little Prairie picnic area (which is where the Cameron Lake Trail begins.) We arrived about an hour before dusk, just before 4 pm and snowshoed until just after 5 pm when it got dark. I thought just for interest's sake I would compare the two experiences, if you're someone who doesn't have the time to do both activities and are trying to chose between them.

Both activities are great cardiovascular workouts. I calculated that in an hour of cross-country skiing I burned between 700-800 calories. An hour of snowshoeing estimates that about 520 calories are burned. (HealthStatus.com has a calorie-burn calculator that tells you how many calories you burned in an activity based on your weight and activity duration.)

I find that the trail you pick also dictates how strenuous your activity is. Beginners: on Cameron Lake Trail, to ski you can glide along fairly smooth, with very little hills and bends in the road. On Dipper Trail, which novices Geoff and Brandon skied, they found it much more difficult as there are a lot of dips, bends and hills, a narrow bridge to cross over a ravine and trees surrounding you. While they both enjoy a challenge and would do it again, it is certainly a difficult trail to ski, especially to climb and descend hills: you can expect a lot more wipeouts. I'm sure you would also find the same thing to ski on an undesignated trail such as Crandell, since Dipper is one of the trails that Parks actually maintains in winter.

With snowshoes, it does take longer to get where you are going: strapping snowshoes onto the bottom of your boots adds a little bit of extra weight. Geoff and Brandon skied Dipper in under an hour, round trip. On snowshoes, it took Geoff and I an hour to make it about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way and turn back. Part of the reason we turned back was that it was getting dark, otherwise we would have finished, but we still had over an hour long trek. The nice thing is that hills are easy and I felt way more confident than I would have on skis, since the spikes on the bottom give you amazing traction. If you're looking to do a winter hike, snowshoes can give you the stability you need to climb through snow and areas of less traction. It is much harder to fall and land on your butt on snowshoes.

Skiing I found I warmed up much faster, generating a lot of body heat, so I took my gloves off and opened my jacket (I really wanted to take it off but had no place to put it!) We also brought a bottle of water with us that we worked up a little bit of a thirst for. Snowshoeing, I found I bundled up a bit more, since the pace was slower. I had wished I brought a scarf or something to cover my neck and my face, since my lips started to feel tingly.

I wouldn't recommend going out on an adventure too close to dusk either- -make sure you have adequate time to go out, enjoy yourself and be able to actually SEE what you're doing. When we skied to Cameron Lake, it was getting dark on the way back and hard to see tracks made in the snow. As you are making a sliding motion, it is much easier to fall! With snowshoes, you might not venture as far since it's a slower process, but if you were caught in the dark, you at least have the stability of your snowshoes to walk without bailing out as easily.

Both activities were great workouts that I thoroughly enjoyed. I would much rather be outside than in a gym any day! The nature and scenery make things so spectacular that you forget you're even exercising. Plus, when you're in a gym, you don't usually bring a camera or binoculars, since there isn't really anything amazing to look at, unless the guy/girl on the treadmill next to you is good looking- -but that would just be creepy and very wrong! In the woods, on the trails, out in nature, having a camera and watching for wildlife is perfectly acceptable and welcomed. Speaking of which, watch for the giant ram on Cameron Lake Road climbing the cliff face. He is there just about every day and also like to surprise motorists by jumping out in front of vehicles.
See you on the trails!

posted on Saturday, January 07, 2012 9:45:48 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [2]