Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snowshoeing: Getting Out and Moving in the Wintertime


Usually I have the activity level of a hibernating bear in the winter.  I can't garden, so what is there to live for?  (just kidding).  But I do hate the cold and the dark.  I am still fervently wishing for spring to come, but I have been trying to get involved in a few things to get me outdoors and getting some vitamin D during the winter months.  Last month, my friend Erin and I tried snowshoeing through the Polk County Parks and Rec dept.  They had a class where they brought out the gear and let you try it.  This was perfect for me, because I thought I would like it, but wanted to make sure before I dropped several hundred dollars in gear.

I discovered that I LOVE snowshoeing.  It is the winter equivalent of hiking.  I also discovered that I cannot type the word  'snowshoeing' without messing it up, unless I concentrate extremely hard.  I usually type something like 'snoeshowing', and then I cuss to myself, and fix it.  So after Christmas, I used some birthday money and bought 2 sets of snowshoes, one for me, and one for my son.  We got tons of snow this week, so today we went out to Grimes Farm in Marshall County and tried them out.  Above is a photo of a pretty stream, melting a little because it was close to freezing and sunny today.  The tracks you can see in the picture are not ours, but probably deer. 

 My son was impressed by the winter landscape, and wanted to be much more adventurous than I thought safe for the first outing.  I was not willing to hike down too close to the stream, for instance, though he wanted to.  I got him a set of poles to go with his...I still need to get some poles for mine, but I was okay for today, because the terrain was pretty flat.

Grimes Farm has some nice trails, in addition to a bike trail that ends up there, that comes out of Marshalltown.  It is a conservation center, so there are a lot of nice benches, birdhouses, and wildlife feeding stations.  They have an actual conservation center building, that you can go into.  I haven't ever been to this place when the building was open though, so I haven't seen the inside.  This windmill is pretty cool. 

They have allowed some parts of the area to be very prairie-like.  I think that they took bits from surrounding farmland and preserved this section in a more natural wild state.  It is obvious from all the tracks that we saw that they have quite a variety of wildlife here.  In this picture, my son is plowing through a grass area.  In some of the pictures you can see the high prairie grasses that will grow here in summer.  I rode my bike through here once or twice this summer after I discovered it, and the grass grows higher than my head then. 

I talked my son into taking a picture of me, for the record.  These snowpants I'm wearing kind of make me feel like the Michelin Man, but they are warm and very easy to move in.  My dad got me an Arkansas pullover, made of fleece, which is very big and very warm, and I can wear it without a coat on a sunny day like this one.  I may look big and puffy in this picture, because of all my gear, but when I compared a close up of this picture to one taken in the same outfit when Erin and I went snowshoeing last month, I can see a big difference in my face.  I have lost 9 lbs since New Year's, and I am feeling really good. It is a big deal for me to change my behaviors in the winter, because it is so hard for me to get out and do things. 

Snowshoeing is fabulous exercise.  Someone at my height and weight can burn up to 450 calories an hour doing it!  I probably burned slightly less, since I was doing it with a little guy, but that still beats the pants off of the treadmill for the same amount of time.  I have really been trying to eat less and move more.  It's as simple as that.  Eat less.  Move more.  That is the cure for a lot of things.  I have been having trouble with my knees and snowshoeing is great for getting a high calorie burn with little to no impact on them.  The soft snow absorbs it. 

Pretty soon (I hope) it will be spring and I will be back to walking outdoors and gardening up a storm.  But snowshoeing is one way I can still get out and enjoy the outdoors while getting a lot of healthy exercise.


  1. Brrrr! It looks like you guys had so much fun and what a great change-up to the workout...hooray for a snowy adventure!

  2. Yay for my ozzsome buddy crossing over to my mainline blog! Love seeing you in other places I go.

  3. That actually looks like fun. Congrats on the progress with losing the weight. It's a much harder thing to do in the winter than spring when we can really get outside and garden.

  4. I didn't know they sold snow pants for adults! I usually just wear two or three pairs of pants when I go outside in the winter.

    Looks like you guys had a lot of fun. Cold fun, but fun nonetheless.

  5. Melissa...I knew they had snow pants for grown-ups, but I never had any until my snowshoeing class I took in December. I bought them specifically for that. I actually love them, I have been wearing them everytime I go out to shovel or do something outside. They are superwarm, I can wear them over any pants. They don't have the bib part, so they are easy to get on and off. I will need to buy a new pair next winter because these won't probably fit me by then. I got these for 20 bucks at Thiesens. The best part is they have 2 layers at the bottom, one tucks into your boots, and they don't get wet!

  6. Aww, but the bib part is what would make them look sexy. ;) Just like overalls

  7. Geeze I feel old. When I was a kid my snowshoes didn't look like that - they were rawhide. High tech snowshoes, I love it.

  8. Love, Love, Love your pics and great winter attitude. Getting out in the winter can definitely a struggle. You go girlfriend!

  9. Constancia - Thanks! I am definitely an amateur photographer, but I try hard. I don't always have a good winter attitude. This is one of my steps to try and improve it.

    Karyl - I didn't expect them to look like that either...I wasn't sure what to expect. But they work really well. They cost a lot up front, but should last for a very long time with care. The weight range on my son's shoes is 90 lbs...he is only about 50 now. So, they will last him several years. Lots of fun!

  10. What a fun way to get outside! I am vitamin d deficient and here is a good FYI.
    "If you live in a region above latitude 40 (a horizontal line that runs from just below New York City west to northern California), then the sun is only strong enough between May and September to trigger the vitamin D conversion (or the converse in the Southern Hemisphere). This means that a large percentage of the population is at significant risk much of the year for vitamin D deficiency. For all these reasons we recommend 2000 IU per day for anyone at or above this latitude, at least from the fall through the spring months."

    This is from:


I borrowed this from another blog...

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