Many older adults still enjoy the thrill of alpine skiing but sometimes fear of falling or knee and hip problems interfere with the enjoyment seniors once experienced swooshing down the side of a mountain. But retired skiers can still enjoy the beauty of a winter getaway thanks to a growing interest in snow hiking. And more resorts are jumping on the bandwagon offering their clients guided snow hiking excursions.
Snow hiking can be done with snowshoes or specially designed boots that are waterproof and fitted with tiny spikes to prevent slipping. And whether you are a former racer or have never slid off a chair lift, the sport is accessible to almost everyone. Most hikers use trekking poles for balance and stability and experts recommend participants dress in layers of breathable fabric that can be easily removed if hikers get too warm. Sunglasses and sunscreen are also advisable to reduce glare and protect from sun damage.
Besides taking time to quietly enjoy nature, slowing down to hike or snowshoe also allows participants to see more wildlife during an outing. Photographers and birdwatchers will also enjoy the sport which is an affordable alternative to the expensive equipment and lift prices associated with skiing. And as an added bonus, snowshoeing can burn more calories than walking because of the added resistance of moving through the snow, an increased metabolic rate in cold weather and the weight of snowshoes. Depending on body weight and terrain, a snow hiker can easily burn 450 calories in an hour.
According to a recent New York Times report, interest in winter trekking has been steadily growing at ski resorts across Canada, the United States and Europe. Many popular destinations will have equipment to rent for first-time hikers, but be sure to call ahead to make sure.
If your mogul-bashing days are over but you still want to get outside and enjoy the winter scenery, snow hiking can provide a stable, low impact outdoor activity for former skiers and non-skiers alike. For more information about cold weather hiking and to find a hiking spot near you, follow this link to the American Hiking Society. With what looks like quite a few more snowy days in our future and some great end-of-season deals on gear, it’s a perfect time to start a new sport.