Snowshoeing featured in Healthy Beginnings Magazine

Tested by Time, The Snowshoe Plods On
Monday, February 1, 2010 by Sean Block

Roughly 6,000 years ago, the largest pocket of the human population was located near present-day Central Asia. Around that time, the first primitive snowshoe, a crudely bound mishmash of leaves, leather and branches began to emerge, making migration to the snowy North much easier. Some migrated to what is now Northern Europe and developed skis as a method of transportation. Those that crossed the Bering land-bridge into North America to become the Inuit and many American Indian tribes chose the snowshoe. Their durable, simplistic design was as crucial to the pioneers that conquered the west as any other modern tool of the time.

Skis were not documented in America until the 1800s when the Finns, Swedes, and Norwegians began to immigrate in substantial numbers. Despite the introduction of the ski, the snowshoe was more efficient; it remained the preferred method of winter travel in America from roughly 4,000 B.C. until the 1960s. The snowshoe as we know it was designed by the Athaspascan and Algonquin Indians. Often homemade until the last hundred years, white ash frames with rawhide webbing and lacing were the predominate style before the age of metal and synthetics. However, technological advancements have done little to change the shape of the modern snowshoe.

Nowadays, snowshoeing has become more recreational than demanded by necessity. Snow goers tear through forests on snowmobiles and rip down mountains on finely tuned skis and snowboards. The day of the snowshoe has come and gone. Or has it? Commercially, snowshoe tours have been on a consistent rise that have seen them compete with, and then surpass cross-country skiing tours in recent years.

Who knows exactly why each person chooses the slow, tedious pace of snowshoes over easier solutions. Maybe it is the peace that comes with the silence, or that snowshoes tend to be the safest method of snow travel; or that the slower we go, the more we notice. It could be because snowshoes are low-impact and stealthy, keeping skittish animals from fleeing from hunter or enthusiast; and they fit in a pack. Or maybe it is because they are cheap, they are easy, and they are fun. Snowshoes allow the adventurous hiker to escape to the hills even in the depths of winter.

Some of the best experiences for the newly shoed can be found using small, personal guides. Outings with more than around six people (especially with the inexperienced) can become cumbersome and downright dangerous unless expertly managed. Seasoned guides know what people want out of their experience, and where to find it. Also, many businesses will offer backcountry awareness, medical, and safety courses that are vital for new hobbyists searching to establish themselves as independent winter survivors. Many of the area's ski resorts including Kirkwood, Northstar, and Squaw have immense areas set-aside with more controlled conditions for cross-country activities like snowshoeing, dogsledding, and cross-country skiing.


1. Snowshoeing: From Novice to Master by Gene Prater and Dave Felkey.

To explore where snowshoeing can take you contact Tahoe Adventure Company. Tahoe Adventure Company leads high quality adventure travel trips with a focus on experiencing the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains, trails and brilliant waters of Lake Tahoe. Our goal is to offer the highest quality, most enlightening adventures in the Lake Tahoe area. Our knowledgeable, local guides offer exceptional service and create memorable adventures for your group. (530) 913-9212 or (866) 830-6125

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