Get down and dirty for snowshoeing

 | February 24, 2013

Snowshoeing - Shawn Wenger, Ethan Wenger 17Lea McLaneEven without the adrenaline factor that popularizes many winter sports, snowshoeing is becoming more accessible and more appealing in Western Canada, if not the world.

We know that snowshoes were developed centuries ago and used around the world, but there’s little certainty about their exact origin. Whatever their genesis, there’s no doubt they were used to provide an efficient means of travelling on snow. Their use has become more recreational over time, with some of the first documented snowshoeing clubs surfacing in Eastern Canada in the 1800s. Today, snowshoeing is a relatively new popular sport and is not yet represented at the Olympics.

One company that can place a claim in helping raise the profile of snowshoeing is Dirty Feet, which runs snowshoe races, along with trail runs and mountain bike races, in B.C.’s Interior.

“Snowshoeing’s been the fastest growing sport in North America for the past 10 years. You’d be amazed at the amount of people going out snowshoeing, it’s huge,” says Grace Hiom, who runs Dirty Feet with her husband Phil, adding that Dirty Feet has seen large increases in registrations since it launched.

The early incarnations of snowshoes were tough wooden frames with webbing made of animal hide, like caribou or deer, between the frame and leather buckles to secure the foot. Hiom said that nowadays they’re much more versatile.

“There’s really a snowshoe for every use. There are running specific snowshoes, recreational type snowshoes and more aggressive stepper snowshoes to give you more traction and a harness system for doing longer steeper stuff,” she explains.

Hiom added that as long as you set them up right the beauty of snowshoeing is that it’s easy.

“You rent some snowshoes and . . . just hike wherever you’d usually hike in the summertime, it makes it easy to just go do it, you don’t have to organize a big group, don’t usually have to pay trail fees (unless in resorts or parks).”

Dirty Feet will bring the North Face Dirty Feet Snowshoe Fun Run and Walk to Sun Peaks for its fourth year on March 3, and Hiom encourages all people to enter.

“The course (at Sun Peaks) isn’t too crazy technical, it’s a fun 5 kilometre loop and the 10 km is two loops of the 5 km. It’s on the snowshoe trails (and) crosses the Nordic trails,” says Hiom.

The event is open to all ages and will be followed by snacks and hot drinks. There will also be a prize presentation that’s not just for the place getters.

“We have a lot of prizes for our races because we like to encourage people to just come out and participate. You can be dead last and win a $200 prize.”

Cost of entry is $30 until February 23, and will increase to $35 on February 24. Registration closes on March 1, and there is no race day registration.