The Happy Camper, Kevin Callan, said he has noticed more people looking for things to do outdoors and snowshoeing is a fun and relatively easy way to enjoy winter.
“It is a reason to get out, to be honest, ‘let’s go snowshoeing,” said the author and outdoor educator.
“It also gets you off the trail. Often the trails will be packed down but the snow in the bush will be up to your waist. Snowshoes allow you to explore.”
He said even spending a little bit of time outdoors can have a huge impact on how you feel.
“It really does prove that we need nature, we are all from nature and we reconnect with it when we are out,” said Callan. “It just rejuvenates us and makes us feel like our own self. It is really important to get out.”
And while this may be a new hobby for some, snowshoes have been around for thousands of years, used by First Nations Peoples to navigate deep snow.
“Every region has different snowshoes just like every area would have different canoes,” he said.
“With traditional ones you have a whole bunch of different designs, you have the bear paw, which is made for the corn snow in the spring, the Ojibwe, which is the elongated one, and then you’ve got the new-age type.”
He said composite snowshoes may not perform as well as traditional styles in really deep snow, but they do the trick for urban trails and general hiking.
“We really have such incredible trails in the region,” said Callan. “Anyone I talk to who, well, isn’t from around here, is really jealous of the access we have to parks and trails.”
Campus planning and development director at Trent University, Jennifer Clinesmith said the University has 1,400 acres of land.
“We have eleven nature areas and about 30 kilometres of trails in total,” said Clinesmith.
“Having these larger blocks of land kept in a natural state allows us to protect the hydrological and ecological features is so important for the local environment,” she said.
She said she has also noticed an uptick in usage as more people turn to the outdoors for entertainment and stress relief.
“It allows folks to get out into nature and it allows us research and education opportunities for the faculty and the staff here at Trent.”
She said the next step is to create a stewardship plan to actively manage and protect the space.
And not to worry if you’re a beginner, Callan said – snowshoeing is a good place to start.
“Unlike skiing, you don’t really have to have too much skill,” he said. “Maybe a couple of falls and you’re good to go,” adding you mostly just have to get used to how they feel on your feet.
“One thing to look for is bindings that are fairly easy to adjust so you don’t have to take off your mittens,” he said. “And I like to use one pole for balance.”
The most important thing, he said, is to have fun and enjoy the season.
“We have four seasons and winter is a really beautiful time of the year.”