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Snowshoeing offers hikers outlet in winter

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By Chelsy Woods Klein

Unlike woodland creatures, hikers don’t have to hibernate in the winter. Snowshoeing is hiking … on snow. And on Jan. 12, Echo Lake Park, as well as Keystone Resort Nordic Center and Estes Park Winter Trails will be hosting Winter Trail Day.
Winter Trail Day was created 18 years ago with the hope that everyone who loves exploring outdoors and would like to try snowshoeing and/or cross country skiing would have the opportunity to do so, even if they have never done so before.
“Our goal is to engage more people in winter sports, specifically snow sports and our thought was that if we create an event that is easy to attend, that doesn’t cost anything and is open to individuals or families it would be a great way to get people to try something new,” SIA Nordic Director Reese Brown said.
The archaic tennis-racket style snowshoe has been extinct almost as long as the dinosaurs. Today’s model is lightweight and aerodynamically-shaped so that anyone can strap a pair on and hit the trail, which makes it an ideal activity for adventurous families.
Vendors, such as R.E.I., have partnered with local mountain trail centers to offer a fun, free way to test the waters or demo new equipment.
Echo Lake and Estes Park will be hosting snowshoe-only events, while Keystone will be offering Nordic ski lessons starting at 1 p.m. Those interested in taking a cross country lesson at Keystone need to pre-register.
For those looking for an aerobic activity with less impact to their joints, Nordic skiing is an option.
 “It is (quite) a good deal because they get rentals and lessons and if they want to stay and continue to ski they can,” said Jana Hlavaty, Keystone Nordic Center director, noting that a regularly priced rental package is normally priced $43.
Unlike traditional downhill skiing, Nordic skiing engages a skier’s whole body because gravity is not propelling the skier down the hill.
“It is our way to get people off of their couches and try something,” Hlavaty said.
The Keystone Nordic Center event will assign people to appropriate groups for their lesson based on participation and ability.
Participants for both snowshoeing or Nordic skiing are encouraged to wear moisture-wicking base layers and water resistant outer layers, protective eye-wear and sunscreen.
Wearing a good, durable winter boot is important when it comes to snowshoeing. Although snowshoes are designed to work with any shoe, any winter sports fan will tell you that cold toes are the fastest way to ditching the great outdoors in favor of a warm lodge.
Water and snacks are as important as good equipment. Essentially, participants should prepare themselves as if they were going hiking without snow, even for cross-country skiing.