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SNYDER: It's time to get snowshoeing

ANDY SNYDER
505-5403/@ydsports

I’m a goal-driven person.

Starting this weekend, it might be a good time to get out the snowshoes.

I like to set goals and accomplish them. Sometimes I'm successful. Other times, I'm not.

Over the last year, I've met many of my goals. But there's one that I still can’t check off my list. It’s not my fault. Mother Nature won't cooperate. But it sure looks like I’m about to get my chance.

One of my top priorities this winter was to do some snowshoeing, one of the nation’s fastest-growing winter sports. It's something that I have rarely done, and want to do more of.

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen snow this winter. But it sounds like that’s about to change. As soon as the white stuff coats the ground, I’m strapping on a pair of snowshoes and giving it a try.

Snowshoeing is an ideal wintertime sport for the whole family. It gets us outside, it’s inexpensive and it offers a chance for some great exercise. If you want to hit the trail, there are a few things you need to know.

First, you have to find the right pair of snowshoes. They are no longer the wood and leather contraptions you see hanging in ski lodges and nostalgic restaurants. Today, they are high-tech and lightweight. Modern snowshoes are made out of a wide variety of metals and rigid plastics. Fortunately, even with all of the modern additions, snowshoes are relatively inexpensive. A beginner could pick up a good pair of shoes for less than $150.

Snowshoes are distinguished by their size, their shape and the amount of weight they are designed to carry. One of the first things to consider when selecting a pair of snowshoes is the weight the shoes are designed to carry.

Just because you weigh 150 pounds doesn't mean that you should get a pair of shoes designed to carry that weight. Remember, you'll be wearing numerous layers of heavy clothing and could be carrying a backpack filled with a day’s worth of supplies. Make sure your snowshoes are designed to carry you and all of your gear.

A shoe’s shape is also a critical factor in its suitability. Smaller, narrow snowshoes are great for beginners because they increase mobility and are easier to use, but they can’t carry much weight and are often inefficient. Find a pair that is comfortable and allows plenty of mobility.

Many people question what accessories to take snowshoeing. The list could be as long or short as you want it to be. You don’t need special boots or bindings to snowshoe. Any warm pair of hiking boots will work just fine.

One accessory that's recommended for novices is a pair of poles. Sturdy poles add balance and make walking much more efficient. A trip to an outdoors store quickly reveals that poles come in a wide range of sizes and styles. Some folks like long poles. Others like them short. Use whatever feels right.

Sure, we haven’t seen much, if any, snow this winter. That’s about to change. It looks like Mother Nature won’t let me down, and I’ll finally get my chance to strap on the snowshoes and get outside.

After all, I’ve got goals to reach.

Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdispatch.com.