All the hype during winter surrounds skiing and snowboarding. Snowshoeing never gets enough love, even though it is one of the most accessible snow sports out there, doesn't require a ton of gear and is gentle on the body.
"There isn't a huge learning curve. It just takes a second to get used to having wider shoes on your feet. Anyone can learn pretty quickly. It's a great way to make otherwise inaccessible areas accessible in the winter and explore in a safe way that doesn't have a huge impact on the environment if done responsibly," said Sadie Pollock, education and volunteer manager for Think Wild.
Pollock wanted to share the wonders of snowshoeing with Central Oregon and make it an accessible experience for those interested in the winter activity. On Sunday, Jan. 15, Think Wild will host its first Wildlife Track ID Snowshoe Hike at Virginia Meissner Sno-Park. This guided snowshoe experience will cover the basics of the sport and dive into noticing the nature along the way, all for free.
Think Wild partnered with Pine Mountain Sports and Children's Forests of Central Oregon to offer free snowshoe rentals for attendees — 20 adult and 20 children shoe rentals. The only things people need are warm layers and an open mind.
Pollock will lead the hike along with two expert animal tracking volunteers. The group will be split, so everyone can ask questions, listen and have an intimate experience. Hikers can expect to see squirrel, rabbit and deer tracks in the snow. Under the right conditions and depending on snow type, snowshoers may even see the lightest prints of songbirds. If people are lucky, they may see fox or bobcat prints.
"Snowshoeing kind of forces you to slow down and notice more of the beauty and evidence of wildlife around you than like blasting through the trees on skis," Pollock said.
Think Wild's events fill up quickly, so stay tuned to its website for event details.
Another way to get a taste of the sport is to attend the "Snowshoeing Central Oregon" webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 6pm with Oregon Wild. This is a free webinar that explores everything from safety to gear to finding the most suitable, scenic trail for snowshoers based on experience level. Ask the experts and feel confident on your next adventure.