Sunday, January 11, 2009

Snowshoeing at Telemark

Well, I am still getting into writing this blog and have not been as prolific as I might have hoped.  I have been walking, though.  Still loving my YakTrax but not needing them as much due to the milder weather and significant melting of ice and snow at our elevation. 

I went snowshoeing at Telemark on Friday.  (Telemark is up Glenrosa Road, almost to Crystal Mountain Ski Hill.)  It was the first time for me this winter and it was very satisfying.  The weather conditions made the snow rather poor for cross country skiing but it really didn't affect the enjoyment of snowshoeing.  I had brought my own snowshoes so only needed a day pass and a map (very important!) to get going.  I was on my own, my daughter and her school group went off on the cross country ski trails, and I felt a bit like an explorer.  My husband had warned me about going it alone and that I had better not get lost or meet a cougar.  I think he was being overprotective, but he had a couple of good points. Then my daughter's teacher commented that he should have brought his GPS for me to use.  Honestly, I have never been lost and needed a would have thought I was a regular client of search and rescue!  Anyway, with all those endorsements under my belt, I headed out along Pine Forest Trail.  It was 4K of forest, occasionally crossing the ski trails, through thick spruce and fir treed areas with fairly steep climbs, then more open aspen or poplar stands (not sure which, deciduous trees with very smooth, light coloured bark anyway).  I managed the distance in about 50 minutes. Pretty slow pace compared to walking on hard surfaces but considering the gait adjustment for the snowshoes and the snow which can be challenging to tread through, I did okay.  I came out at the chalet just as my daughter's ski group was returning...saving my reputation for another day!  

If you have been pole walking for a while, using snowshoes with poles is an easy transition.  I liked the idea that I was getting a whole body workout (like with pole walking) and could enjoy the snowy terrain.  The sound of snowshoeing is nice, too.  Pretty quiet (especially if you are alone) with the regular crunch of each step along the way.  On some of the hills, I think I also heard my heartbeat!  I didn't see any wildlife, they probably ran when they heard me coming. But I did hear some birds and it was a nice soundtrack.  I often walk with friends but I really do treasure my alone times, too.  I find a pause break in the hectic schedule of my days.  A time to think and to listen to my thoughts.  A time to sing and pray or just savour the joy of using my body in a way that is healthy and fun.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Winter Wonderland Walking

Well today I enjoyed a walk with a friend in a winter wonder of fresh snow and sunshine.  The snow has been accumulating for about three weeks now and even with the snow clearing efforts, the side roads are still quite snow covered.  I have worried in the past about walking in snowy conditions because of the icy layer that tends to build up just beneath the fluffy stuff. Sliding is the goal if you are tobogganing but sliding when walking can be very scary!  I wasn't sure I would enjoy winter walking when the snow came, and then a friend told me about the traction devices she used and how much it gave her confidence to walk in icy conditions.  I put this item on my Christmas list and found it under the tree last week.  Today was the first time I tried out my YakTrakPros and I was very pleased. My footing felt sure and I was able to fully take in the beautiful scenery and enjoy conversation with my friend.  The area I live in is generously decorated with lovely sites, today everything sparkled as the sun glinted off the multitude of snowflakes.  I also noticed the sound of each step, muffled by the snow, softly our feet tread through the white trails.  The temperature was quite pleasant for January, too.  I found myself tucking my gloves into my pocket halfway through and was glad for the extra vitamin D that I received.   

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Confessions of a Pole Walker

Welcome to the blog that asserts pole walking increases the number of smiles in the world! This blog has been floating around in the back of my mind for quite some months now and the start of a new year seemed like the right time to begin to put it together.  

If you have reached this point, you are probably either a person who pole walks or one who is wondering why anyone would.  My goal is to include both groups of people through my posts and your comments.  

I have been walking with poles for nine months now.  I had noticed walking poles around occasionally and was curious to learn more.  A friend and I attended a free workshop at our local high school.  After the two hour session, we both purchased walking poles and have been using them ever since. I walk 5-6 times each week, 4 times with friends and 1-2 times alone.  I have been surprised by many aspects of this activity.  Mostly I am convinced that walking without poles is simply not fun or athletically challenging enough for me.  The friends I walk with have all recently made the transition from two foot walking to four foot walking, and are reaping the benefits.  Of all the physical activities I have pursued in the past, pole walking has by far evoked more responses from others that have made me smile.  I have come to appreciate not only what pole walking is doing for me but the positive ripple effect it is having on others.  At first I endured much teasing from my family and friends with regard to their opinions (not high) of pole walkers and pole walking.  Each comment was delivered with a smile and often a laugh.  I realized that while I was benefiting from the exercise both physically and mentally, my family and friends were benefiting from pole walking, too.  Their humorous comments providing light moments in their days, adding smiles along the way.  The world can never have too many smiles.  Thank you pole walking!