I’m extremely focused on trying new things this year, so I think it’s about time I start sharing some of the things I’ve already tried. None of the “new adventures” are likely to top Skydiving in January, but they are all fun and challenging.
I’ll share my snowshoeing experience this time, but I have acrylic painting and wall building to share too. And, those are just the things I’ve done so far.
Note: Scroll to the bottom for my gear suggestions.
We chose to snowshoe at the Hyak Sno-Park because of it’s groomed trails and easy access (right off of I90). I wanted to try snowshoeing, but I didn’t want to kill myself the first time by making my own trail. The Hyak Sno-Park offers groomed trails for both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. It’s also a VERY popular location for tubing and sledding.
We arrived early before the crowds of families showed up (which I highly recommend). The parking lot was nearly empty when we arrived and completely packed when we left.
It cost $20 to get into the parking area for a day (cheaper if you buy a season pass), so car-pooling is the way to go. There were five of us, so at $4 per person it was worth it. While on the expensive side, it makes sense because grooming trails is not cheap. A Washington state Discover Pass is required as well (most hikers in Washington will already have one of these on hand).
Bonus…they have very comfortable heated bathrooms (which is a relief when you’re a frozen icicle) and they even have showers.
The Hyak Sno-Park parking lot is right at the beginning of the Iron Horse trail. There are miles and miles of groomed trails in the area, but being the first time for most of us we only did about 4 miles total. We detoured off the trail a bit for some extra adventure, but not much. Be prepared for some negative looks/comments from skiers. There are a couple of places where snowshoers have no choice but to be on the groomed ski trail.
If you don’t have snowshoes, and I’m assuming most people don’t, then renting is a very good option. I highly recommend renting at a sporting goods store before going to the pass. Rental costs up there are much higher. REI rents snowshoes by the day for $40/$20 the first day and $20/$10 for subsequent days (non-member/member). There are generally two different sizes and it’s based on the wearers weight (don’t worry you won’t have to tell them what you weigh).
Poles are nice to have. I used my trekking poles with the baskets attached. I’m on the fence about whether I’ll use them next time or just hope for the best. I found them handy when trying to get out of a hole I fell into, but most of the time they were just “extras” I carried around.
I DO NOT recommend bringing an expensive camera unless you don’t mind dealing with it getting wet. It snowed on us and the weather can be very unpredictable. I used my underwater camera for photos.
The most important thing to do is wear layers. It was quite cold, but we warmed up while moving. Waterproof clothing items are a good thing, but they can create condensation. I wore my rain jacket and while I was warm enough with my layers, my clothes were soaked due to condensation. I also wore my wicking hiking pants, thick possum socks (bought in New Zealand), a buff for my neck and ears, hat, gloves, and other warm layers on top.
What About You?
Have you gone snowshoeing before? Where? Do you have gear suggestions? Please share.