Daughter, Brandy, snowshoeing for the first time
“I love this, it’s like walking,” smiled my daughter, Brandy. “And I like being able to stop myself, not counting on boards strapped to my feet to stop me.” In case you can’t tell, she tried skiing last year. And didn’t particularly like it. Same with me. We’ve decided we have some sort of “hereditary” balance-and-control-challenge. So though we all tried skiing, it was not particularly successful. This year we wanted to try cross-country skiing. Everyone says we’ll like it better and can go on flatter terrain where we would be more comfortable. The only problem was there was so little snow this winter that it took forever for the trail to open. We finally decided to try snowshoeing, figuring it was less expensive plus we could check out this cross-country trail that was supposed to be nice and flat.
So on a recent Saturday we met Brandy and her boyfriend, Jason at the motel in Packwood and headed up to White Pass Ski Area – along with hundreds of other people who were there for the annual White Pass Winter Carnival. But it was actually not too bad, we found parking pretty quickly, and headed to the yurt. While skis and equipment are rented in the lodge, snowshoes and cross-country gear are rented out of the yurt across the street and behind the lodging. We just needed to rent snowshoes for Josh, David has an old wooden pair, Brandy borrowed a pair of Yukon Charlie’s from a friend and I borrowed a pair of Redfeathers from a friend. We noticed that the rental shoes appeared to be all Yukon Charlie’s. We paid $15 for Josh’s shoes, and $15 a piece for our trail passes.
Brandy and Nancy snowshoeing for the first time!
Then we headed outside to put on our snowshoes – which is where I ran into my first problem. Even though Brandy quickly and easily got hers on and the back strap fastened, I struggle very much with mine, until I had to have Josh fasten them for me.
On Leech Lake
Then we all headed off down towards the frozen and snow-covered Leech Lake and the trail that goes around it. The snow was not as expected. It was covered with a light layer of ice and so it was frosty and crunchy when we walked on it. As we started walking down the hill to the lake area, that’s when Brandy decided she liked it. There would be no way either she or I would have been able to comfortably go down that little hill on skis.
Trail along Nordic trail
Creek peeking through snow (photo by Brandy Kirkendall)
Even though there were so many people up there, there were very few people on the trail. We only ran into maybe four or five other small groups around the entire trail. So we had plenty of space to ourselves. The weather was agreeable and the scenery was beautiful and serene. We took two hours to go around the trail because we kept stopping to take pictures. Snow makes landscape look so different. A creek peeking out through the little white hills. Bare trees with snow-caps caught on the top of them. Everything looks clean and smooth.
Yes, after going down the hill to the lake, the first 1/3 or so of the trail was pretty flat. But then it started slowing climbing, and probably what other people would still consider flat, we decided would still have been too much of a hill for us. See, there’s that hereditary inability to appreciate hills, speed, and skiing..
The walk around the lake took the perfect amount of time (there was a restroom available about ½ way around if anyone needs it).
Restroom, if you can get to it
We enjoyed our walk, appreciated the views, felt we got a great workout and worked up a hunger. When finished, we headed back to the yurt to meet Jason for a lunch that we had packed. Time to take off the snowshoes and again I had a problem. I couldn’t get the back strap off and again had to have Josh do it. So bottom line, I would not get the Redfeather snowshoes because I obviously want to be able to put them on and take them off by myself, and Brandy had no problems with her Yukon Charlie’s and neither did Josh.
Since most of the people visiting White Pass Ski area head to the lodge to eat, we were actually able to get a table inside the yurt to enjoy our lunch. While we brought our own food, they do have some snacks and beverages available. It was also quite cozy and warm and the staff was very friendly and helpful with our questions.
We had such a successful experience that there has been a great follow-up. Brandy bought herself some Yukon Charlie’s, in a kit with the poles and a carry bag – and she bought a set for me for an early Mother’s Day present! How fun is that!
Brandy and Josh celebrating successful snowshoeing!