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Embracing snowshoeing — with a few failed starts

by Tribune News Service | March 12, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Snowshoe trails are marked with blue diamonds with a yellow snowshoer in the center. If using snowshoes outside of the marked trails, it is recommended to avoid walking on set ski tracks. (Janay Wright/The Bulletin/TNS)

BEND, Ore. -- I've dabbled in snowshoeing over the years.

But with the pull of faster-paced activities, I hesitated to jump feet first into the sport. My hesitation meant renting gear each time, adding a cumbersome extra step to each outing.

Since landing in Bend several years ago and discovering Central Oregon's phenomenal sno-park system, I could no longer relegate snowshoeing to the back burner. I was compelled to explore the Deschutes National Forest during the winter and wanted to bring my dog, Juno, too.

So this year, I jumped in feet first. I purchased an annual sno-park permit ($25) for the first time and for Christmas, my partner and I gifted each other our first pair of snowshoes.

From there, I figured I had everything I needed to begin my snowshoeing journey. But on my first trip to Edison Butte Sno-Park recently, I realized I was wrong.

The snowshoes I chose on Amazon are designed with a ratchet system, not unlike snowboard bindings. Impatient to get on the trail and put my new snowshoes to use, I threaded the straps through the upper part of the quick-release system instead of the bottom, jamming the system and making it impossible to either tighten or remove the straps. It would take much patience and strength on the part of my partner to remove the strap from the binding.

So we returned last month to Edison Sno-Park better prepared. I placed the ball of my foot over the crampon, taking care to correctly thread the straps through the binding.

From the sno-park, we embarked north on the Tesla snowshoe trail. It was well-marked, winding and just wide enough to fit both snowshoes side by side. We wove over hills and through towering trees. My crampons below my snowshoes bit firmly into the snow, allowing easy traction on the inclines and a smooth descent downhill.

While I'm still adjusting to the slower pace and the clumsiness of snowshoeing, I'm learning to develop an appreciation for the sport. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and we passed only a couple of other people on the trail.

As we drove back to Bend, I could still feel the phantom sensation of snowshoes attached to my feet and noticed that the tops of my thighs were sore. I was left with a satisfying fatigue -- just like any fast-paced outdoor adventure.

Note: In the upper right-hand corner of the U.S. Forest Service's Edison Sno-Park nordic ski and snowshoe trail map, there's a QR code to download Avenza Maps. The app allows smartphone users to download the map and track their location with GPS.

Getting there from Bend: Edison Butte Sno-Park may be accessed either by traveling west on Cascades Lakes Highway followed by 4 miles south on Forest Road 45 or by traveling south on Highway 97, taking exit 153 onto Century Drive and turning right on Edison Ice Cave Road.

This story originally appeared in the Bulletin of Bend, Ore.

photo The trail sign marking the start of Tesla snowshoe trail at Edison Butte Sno-Park outside Bend, Oregon. (Janay Wright/The Bulletin/TNS)

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