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Cold winter hike offers breath of solitude and health benefits

By Aley Davis, KSL TV | Posted - Feb. 7, 2020 at 9:48 p.m.


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PROVO — Skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only ways to play in the snow and enjoy clear air. Mountain experts tout snowshoeing as an easy way for adventurers to enjoy the powder without breaking the bank.

Lindsay Veil recently put her roots down in Utah and headed up Provo Canyon to give snowshoeing a try for the very first time. "I'm expecting a little bit of a workout!” she said laughing.

She needed a little help buckling up her shoes, but once she strapped in Veil led the pack on a designated snowshoeing trail at Sundance Resort.

“Oh, I love it. We were just driving up here and looking all around at the snow-covered trees; it's absolutely gorgeous up here," Veil said.

Lindsay Adams, supervisor at the Sundance Resort Nordic Center, said snowshoeing doesn't require any prior skills or experience.

"It's so soft," Veil commented as she plowed her way through fresh, ankle-deep snow.

Adams compares snowshoeing to hiking, and said snowshoes give people more stability. "If you're in really deep snow, you want a sturdy platform so that you're not sinking up to your hips,” she said.

Adams encourages beginners to stay on established trails and urges people who decide to venture to the backcountry to bring avalanche gear like a beacon, shovel and probe.

She tells people to check the avalanche forecast before heading out. “If you look up at a beautiful mountain range that's just straight up from you, then you're in an avalanche path,” Adams said.

At first, Veil said snowshoeing took some getting used to. "I feel a little bit like a penguin, but I think that's a good thing," she joked.

She got the hang of it pretty quickly. “I think the hardest part was going downhill and, like, learning how to adjust your feet,” she said.

Intermountain Healthcare's Libba Shannonhouse, an exercise therapist at the Salt Lake LiVe Well Center, said snowshoeing is a great way to get your heart pumping.

"We look at people around us who are aging well in Utah, and they aren't the gym rats; they are the people who are outside, who are just active in general,” Shannonhouse said.

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"I'm sweating right now. I think everyone's sweating right now!” Veil said, midway on the trail.

Shannonhouse recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week for most people and said staying active prevents chronic illness like cancer and heart disease.

Veil said snowshoeing was challenging at times. “I started thinking, 'Wait, can I do this? But then you get to the top and you're like, ‘OK, I got this!'"

But Veil said she could also set her own pace and take things slow when she wanted.

Shannonhouse said being active, especially outside, can improve someone’s mental health. “You're outside, you're moving, you're taking in the nature around you. Some people find it meditative,” she said.

Veil agrees. She said snowshoeing was a great way to escape the house on a muggy winter day and enjoy nature. She said she hopes to go more often.

"It's a blast!” Veil said. “I was actually looking for something to do in the winter besides the normal sledding and snowboarding.”

Snowshoes are available for rent for about $10 to $15 at any local snow shop in Utah, for people who want to give it a try before buying their own.

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