Saratoga County

Snowshoeing gains new enthusiasts

This winter’s early snowfall has prompted many outdoor enthusiasts to either hit the ski slopes or c
Assistant manager at Alpin Haus in Amsterdam Jeff Zielinski, demonstrates the features on a snowshoe Thursday. THIS IS AN ADVANCE PIC FOR MONDAY STORY 01.14.08
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Assistant manager at Alpin Haus in Amsterdam Jeff Zielinski, demonstrates the features on a snowshoe Thursday. THIS IS AN ADVANCE PIC FOR MONDAY STORY 01.14.08

This winter’s early snowfall has prompted many outdoor enthusiasts to either hit the ski slopes or cross-country trails, and until the recent warm spell, many also strapped metal to their hiking boots and enjoyed another winter pastime — snowshoeing.

Outdoor resorts, businesses and parks have seen an increase in snowshoeing this winter.

At Alpin Haus in Amsterdam, assistant manger Jeff Zielinski said more people have been purchasing snowshoeing equipment. “We are constantly getting in new stuff and reordering more,” he said.

Ann Hirvonen, owner of Lapland Lake Cross County Ski and Vacation Center in Northville, said she also has noticed the increased interest in showshoeing.

“About a week ago, we nearly went through our entire inventory and there is enough of a demand that we are thinking about purchasing more [snowshoes] for rentals,” she said.

Alli Schweizer, park naturalist for the Saratoga Spa State Park who also teaches snowshoeing classes, said most of the park’s offerings are full.

“Our phone calls about snowshoeing and snowshoeing classes have gone up probably 300 percent this year,” she said.

The reason for such an increase in snowshoeing is unknown, but experts in the field attributed it to the early snowfall and speculated that people are taking up the sport because it’s good for all ages and athletic abilities and it burns calories during a time when most are cooped up inside.

Snowshoeing is more dependent on the weather because the sport is done on golf courses and trails, not at ski resorts that are able to make snow.

Zielinski said after last year’s February snowstorm people were buying snowshoes to get to their mailboxes. He said people also buy them to walk up the driveways of their Adirondack camps or to get to the lakes to ice fish.

When used for recreation, Zielinski said, snowshoeing is one of the best anaerobic exercises to do in the winter because both legs and arms are used much like in cross-country skiing.

“Plus you’re not in the gym next to a bunch of other sweaty people. You are outside enjoying the outdoors,” he said.

Schweizer said the word must have gotten out about how many calories a person could burn while snowshoeing, which has contributed to the increase in participation.

“It must have been in some weight loss program,” she said.

A person could burn between 400 and 700 calories per hour while snowshoeing, depending on weight, Schweizer said.

Snowshoeing is also easy for people of any age because it is basically just walking.

“It is really easy for anyone to do, whether you’re 4 or 70; once you figure out how to put the shoes, on you just walk,” Schweizer said.

Zielinski said he recommends the sport for older folks because balance is not an issue; they can go at their own pace and are always in control.

“Anyone can do it,” Hirvonen said. The technology is so user-friendly.”

Unlike the iconic wooden snowshoes, modern versions are lighter and less cumbersome. The idea behind snowshoes is to displace a person’s weight so he doesn’t sink into the snow but rather walks on top of it. Modern snowshoes also have aluminum teeth that grip into the ice and allow a person to go uphill.

One of the most positive things about trying snowshoeing is it gives people the opportunity to get out of the house during a time of year when most people are sick of being cooped inside.

“If you live in the Northeast it’s going to snow; might as well embrace it,” Zielinski said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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