As readers of my website and blog realize, I am a huge fan of Nordic walking. When winter arrives here in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, the Nordic walking season does not end. I venture out with crampons or ice cleats on my feet when and where the snow is packed down. But where the snow is fresh and deep, I don my snowshoes and go out exploring in a winter wonderland.
Snowshoeing plus Nordic walking is a perfect pairing! Like walking, snowshoeing is primarily a lower body activity. When you add Nordic walking poles and use good Nordic walking technique, you also use your core muscles plus the muscles of your arms and shoulders. Because you are using virtually every muscle in your body, you are burning more calories. The more calories you burn, the more heat your body’s internal furnace will generate. This helps to keep you warm, no matter how cold the temperature is. Indeed, the challenge is to layer up and layer down your clothing in order to keep a perfect temperature, without sweating. My recommendations are to start out a little on the cool side, with an extra layer or two in your pack, as you will warm up in a matter of minutes of hitting the trail. When you stop for a break, add a layer to keep warm as your body starts to cool. An extra pair of gloves is a good thing to throw in your pack. Dry socks and footwear should be waiting for you back in your vehicle, if you drove to the trailhead.
Snowshoeing with your poles also gives you excellent stability on the variable snow surface, which can be a challenge as well as an aid to getting back up on your feet when you fall in deep snow. When the terrain is steep, the poles help to offload stress from your knees and hikes and aid in keeping you upright on a steep descent. Remember to shorten your poles on long uphill sections and lengthen them when on steep descents.
If you have never snowshoed before, do consider joining me for a guided snowshoe hike on one of the outstanding trails in Canmore or Kananaskis. Unlike other winter activities, such as alpine or Nordic skiing, there is a very short and simple learning curve. Snowshoeing is simply walking with bigger feet. If the snowshoes are sized appropriately, there is no need to adjust your gait. You simply walk as you normally walk.
If you plan to head out on your own, I do recommend you stay on established snowshoe trails. They are usually well marked and do not have avalanche risk. Do not assume that hiking trails that are safe at other times of the year are safe in winter. Many mountain hiking trails are dangerous because of the potential for avalanches. If you intend to head off on you own, without a guide and on other than designated snowshoe trails, then it is very important to have avalanche training and carry avalanche safety gear with you at all times.
On established snowshoe trails, there are ways to vary the intensity of the workout. Often, there will be a well packed track, with a less well-packed track beside it. Try using the less packed down trail and see how it vastly increases the intensity of the workout. If you go out after a significant snowfall and have to break trail, the workout can be exhausting. In this case, it is best to go with friends and take turns breaking trail. Snowshoeing in fresh snow is wonderful. There is nothing quite like the feeling that you are walking on pillows. The “whompf, whompf” sounds the snowshoes make is also very pleasant. But of course, the best part is the enjoying the beautiful snowy scenery!
What to wear & bring (Spring, Summer, Fall):
What to wear & bring (Winter):
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Liability waivers are a necessary part of any commercial activity experience. I recommend that you take the time now to review this legal document that you will be required to sign before we start our clinic or walk together:View the Waiver
Your Health & Physical Activity Readiness:
We ask guests who are experiencing cold symptoms and symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home and practice self-isolation under the direction of the appropriate governing body. For almost everyone, the benefits of physical activity far outweigh any risks. For some individuals, special advice from a Qualified Exercise or health care provider is advisable before becoming more active. This questionnaire is intended for all ages – to help move you along the path to becoming more physically active.
Please review this Questionnaire if you have concerns about your health or fitness level for participating in Nordic walking.
Full refunds are given if a cancellation is received 24 hours or more prior to the clinic or tour date. No refunds are given with less than 24 hours notice. Clinics/tours go rain or shine. If the weather is extreme, then it may be cancelled with a full refund given.
Parking is available on-street or in public lots throughout Canmore. It is a good idea to arrive early on busy days to locate suitable parking.
Restrooms are available at the Malcolm hotel in the lobby.
Public restrooms are available within a short walk:
Public pit toilets are available at all trailheads.
Where to meet:
Starting locations will vary seasonally with instructions included in your booking confirmation.
Parking options will vary by location with details included in your booking confirmation.