Sunny weekend alert! Time to try snowshoeing


With snow in the mountains and sun in the forecast, we're poised on the brink of a perfect snowshoeing weekend.

No slam on skiing, but sometimes I tire of the schlep of it. Lift lines, snarled parking lots, car packed to the hilt with thousands of dollars worth of gear...every now and then, I want a winter sport that doesn’t require a strategy.

Why snowshoe? It’s easy: No lessons required and there’s hardly even a learning curve. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. It ain’t elegant (my kids call it “dork-walking”), but it’s such a relief to try something new with no tearful, frustrating first attempts. You just strap on the shoes and go. Easy! But a righteous workout.

It's also cheap. Rent a pair of snowshoes (at REI or Marmot Mountain Works) for about $20 for a full day. My family took to snowshoeing like overstuffed waddling ducks to water, so we bought our own snowshoes after renting an inefficient four times. Snowshoes strap right onto your snow boots or hiking boots, and the bindings are simple. You don’t need poles.

A couple of notes on etiquette: Some ski areas will rent you some snowshoes and sell you a trail pass. Beware! Snowshoers don't belong on groomed trails. They mess them up for cross-country skiers and snow skaters, who will tell you all about it.  Also, dogs aren't allowed on groomed trails or at ski areas.

My fave easy place to snowshoe is at the Sno-Park at Snoqualmie. It’s about $20 for a day, or around $40 for a season pass. We like to tote a small saucer-style sled with us in case we come upon an untouched snowy slope; pure heaven!