The groundhog saw his shadow. The Olympics are on TV. Snow covers the ground. Sounds like the right time to participate in some winter sports of our own!
I know that lots of us would prefer to stay inside while winter is still raging outside, but it’s better to get outside and stay active, in spite of the low temps.
With that in mind, I feel like now is a good time to explore a couple of fun activities that you can only do in the cold and snow!
First up, let’s go snowshoeing! Clarissa and I are not committed enough to buy snowshoes yet, so we rented a couple of pairs. (See where below.)
We trekked around Lost Grove Lake for an hour or so before trucking over to Loud Thunder for more snowshoe action.
All told, we spent about 3 hours snowshoeing, but only covered about 4 miles.
It takes a little getting used to, but if you can handle hiking, you can likely snowshoe without any issues.
Remember that I’m new at this too, so don’t rely solely on the advice in this post. I’m a newbie too!
We did pick up a few tips that might be helpful if you decide to give snowshoeing a try:
Be careful not to get them caught on one another.
Be sure to wear layers.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated.
I would also recommend using trekking poles just to add a little balance, especially early on.
If you need to go downhill, bend your knees, shift your weight back slightly, and slowly place your heel down first, then bring your toe down.
When going uphill, you may want to duck-walk just a bit, or kick the front of your snowshoe into the snow in front of you, so you can firmly plant the crampon on the bottom of the shoe letting you ascend safely.
For a good experience, make sure there’s at least 6 inches of snow on the ground.
Where to Rent Snowshoes
Active Endeavors rents snowshoes for $15/day per pair. You can take them anywhere, and they will provide you with ideas if you’re not sure where you want to go.
The Wapsi Center also rents snowshoes that you must use on their property. The good news is that you’ll have plenty of trails to explore!
Cross Country Skiing
If snowshoeing isn’t your mug of cocoa, check out cross country skiing. Let me tell you, it may be cold outside, but once you get moving on these skis, you’re going to work up a sweat!
We went out to Palmer Hills Golf Course in Bettendorf and rented everything we needed (skis, boots, and poles) for $5 an hour.
An hour doesn’t sound like much, but we didn’t have a lot more in us after that!
We awkwardly skied around the beginner/family friendly trail, slipping, tripping, falling, and laughing the whole time.
I found skiing more difficult than snowshoeing, as well as more exhausting, but it’s still an incredibly fun outing that I highly recommend.
I’m not a proficient skier yet, but in theory it’s simple: you take the same synchronized rhythm your arms and legs move in while walking or running, and in a shuffling motion, move your feet and skis forward, keeping them parallel to each other.
Simple in theory, but in practice … Well. Let’s just say that I could use a bit more practice. Keeping the skis parallel was not my strong suit.
I also ended up crossing my skis a few time, which brought me down to the snow once or twice.
But I have no complaints; cross country skiing proved itself a great outdoor activity that got my heart pumping!
We may not be Olympians, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get out and enjoy some Winter Games of our own. The opening ceremony might not be as elaborate, but I think you’re going to have a blast during the events. Whether you decide to strap on snowshoes or skis, have an awesome time, and tell us all about it in the comments!
|Meet Wade Ellett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Outdoor Blogger. Wade is an outdoor adventurer who shares his passion for QC outdoor adventures here! Read his other posts by clicking here.|