I’ve never been fond of extremely cold temperatures, especially the snow and ice: its hard to drive on, conditions make it uncomfortable to breath, and worse of all the cold air dries my skin! I thought maybe I’d learn to like the snow and ice if I learned to ski or snowboard. Everyone always looks like they are having fun and I probably would as well. So I took one of those expensive lessons and attempted to learn. But after half a day of listening to a frustrated instructor along with numerous falls and bruises later, I still failed to learn anything, except that I hate it, too.
This winter, things have changed. A day trip up to the high country near my home, in the grandeur of the snow-capped mountains, I finally experienced snowshoeing. And to my surprise, I absolutely loved it!
Though it was not as easy as I originally thought.
One of the reasons I loved it so much is because it’s not difficult to do. You don’t need special training or costly equipment. All you need is a pair of snowshoes and optional hiking sticks, worn with cold weather attire. And as far as skills are concerned, if you can walk, you can snowshoe. Fair warning though, you will need to exert some energy to do this activity.
My snowshoe adventure took place during a rare sunny-ish day in the heart of Mount Rainier National Park in an area called, “Paradise.” Most of the trails in this area can be used as snowshoeing trails in the winter when they are covered in snow. During the warmer months this area is the hub of activity. In the colder months, however, the surroundings area is a bit more placid. There is no abundance of life or movement, instead there is a calm here that almost seem ominous.
But it is a welcoming calm.
Here in the dead of winter the towering snow-capped mountain peaks, the white-dusted evergreen pines, and the wind-blown fallen trees fill the empty landscapes. We could’ve walked for hours without having realized how far we went. The only limitation was the speed of our strides and the difficulty of our trail. It is a vast wilderness of white.
In this wilderness only a few sounds are heard: the howling of the wind, the leaves rustling off their heavy loads of snow, and the pitter-patter of our snowshoes along the way. Sometimes we also heard wild animals that would come out of hiding, equally curious to see another living being in the cold surroundings. There is a sense of peace here that we all crave sometimes.
In this post you won’t find any photos of myself or of my friends snowshoeing, but that was on purpose. The point is not the actual activity. But rather, what is important is what you’ll find along the way. For me it was the things I’ve missed out on because of my dislike for the snow and ice; all the beautiful things I never took the time to really appreciate before this experience.
So if you’re like me and don’t like winter, or if you just can’t seem to get the hang of other more popular winter sports, perhaps its time to give snowshoeing a try. You can do it anywhere in the world where there is snow. But, I say, there is no better place to snowshoe than on Mount Rainier’s “Paradise” - a place that revitalizes your soul.Snowshoeing in Paradise