In Praise of the Snowshoe

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Snowshoes could be a necessary item depending on where you live. They are also a good way to stay in shape. Marty Hansen leads snowshoe treks on Mount Hood in Oregon and he sent us this audio postcard.


Here's one snow-time activity that might be safer than some others. Every weekend, Marty Hansen leads snowshoe treks on Oregon's Mount Hood, and he sent us this audio postcard.

(Soundbite of crunching snow)

Mr. MARTY HANSEN (Snowshoeing Guide and Instructor): Okay, welcome to the Twin Lakes-Bird Butte snowshoe. We're gonna be following the PCT, the Pacific Crest Trail here. So, let's go around and introduce ourselves. I'm Marty.

(Soundbite of group talking)

Mr. HANSEN: I find that snowshoeing is very good exercise. I've read that we burn about 500 calories an hour, which is more than you can burn per hour with walking. It's probably up there with running.

Okay, onward! It's gonna be a great day.

(Soundbite of snow crunching)

Mr. HANSEN: Hardly any clouds in the sky.

On a clear day, Mount Hood is looming up above us, and is this magical, in my mind, sight of snow-covered crags and peaks—the blue sky above it—and I just find it magical and a lot of fun to be out there.

(Soundbite of snow crunching)

Mr. HANSEN: Okay, we've gone a mile and a half according to the sign. Is everybody doing fine?

Unidentified Man: Alright!

Mr. HANSEN: Don't forget to drink your water. People forget. Although it's cool out, you do expend a lot of water, so drink your water.

Snowshoeing is harder, because you have these heavy weights on your feet that gives you an extra pound or so per foot. And you have to have a little bit of different stance, because they're wide in places, so it is more difficult to snowshoe than to hike.

Yeah, just pull those nice and tight, and that strap will—they'll sort of just hug your, uh...

Unidentified Woman: Is that good?

Mr. HANSEN: Yeah, that's good.

Unidentified Man: Yeah, it's not too tight.

Mr. HANSEN: Snowshoes have improved a lot over the years. It's not the old tennis rackets—the strung catgut or whatever they used—the rawhide. Now there's hi-tech plastics and aluminum, or even titanium tubes that they build them on. They have built-in crampons which are useful here in the northwest, because sometimes our snow gets pretty hard, and you need to dig in with your crampons to get past some of the steep places that you go up or down.

(Soundbite of crunching snow)

Mr. HANSEN: Starting up to the butte now. So, things will get tougher now. Snow's good though, so it's just a matter of oxygen use at this point. Get those muscles moving. Remember to use your toes, cause that kicks in the crampons on your shoes.

Unidentified Woman: Bend your knees.

Mr. HANSEN: Make sure that you have done some conditioning, and are able to walk six miles in a two-hour period with maybe 500 feet of gain in the city. If you can't do that in two hours, you need to get in better shape to go snowshoeing.

(Sound of snow crunching)

Mr. HANSEN: Welcome to Bird Butte! It's amazing.

INSKEEP: Marty Hansen is a member of a mountain climbing club in Portland, Oregon, and he's planning another trip up Mount Hood this weekend.

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