What: Snowshoe routes with Alan Apt
When: 6:30 p.m. Monday
Where: REI Boulder, 1789 28th Street
More info: rei.com/boulder
S ince Alan Apt starts his snowshoeing book with a confession, I'll start with one here.
Five years ago, the hub and I were snowshoeing above Fraser. It was cold. We hadn't chosen an interesting trail. When the sun dipped behind the mountains and we turned around, I would've given anything to be back at the car and on my way to a hot adult beverage instead of an hour away via a downhill slog.
Then a skier silently slipped past us, effortlessly gliding back toward the trailhead.
Tantrum time. If my snowshoes had been in my hands instead of on my feet, I would have thrown them to the ground. At that moment I vowed to learn to ski.
I have not snowshoed since that day.
Alan makes a different confession in the opening pages of "Snowshoe Routes: Colorado's Front Range," which is in its second edition now and has new, color topo maps (nice touch). Also: He'll be at the Boulder REI store at 6:30 tonight to talk about snowshoeing.
Alan's a skier. But while visiting his daughter in Durango, she suggested going snowshoeing.
"When she said she wanted to take me snowshoeing, I was like, 'oh man,'" he said. "I was thinking of the four-foot bamboo snowshoes."
They went out on modern snowshoes instead. Good start, but when they got out on a powdery trail, Alan's instant reaction was, "I wish I had skis."
"But we were on a steep slope, and then I noticed no one was sliding backwards, nobody was grabbing trees on the way down to slow down," he said.
He realized that, finally, he was out on a trail in the winter with his family and no one was upset or shooting him the if-I-could-kill-you-I-would look, he said with a laugh.
"Everybody had a great time."
Alan still skis. But after this revelation, and since writing the first edition of his book 10 years ago and giving many slideshows on snowshoeing, he's realized that Colorado is full of snowshoers of all sorts, and for good reason -- if you can walk, you can snowshoe, and it's fun.
"You have people with little kids, people in their 70s and 80s, guys and gals who want to go out and do winter mountaineering, and people who want to go out for a nice stroll in the winter," he said. "So I think it's opened up the winter experience to a lot more people than skiing has."
I have to admit, he makes solid points about the boons of snowshoeing. I also have to admit that though I swore it off violently, I've had some backcountry experiences on skis that left me, well, sliding backwards, grabbing trees and casting those I-could-kill-you looks inwardly in fits of self-loathing.
There's no self-loathing when you're an overnight expert. And you know what you can master practically overnight? Snowshoeing.
Whether you ski or snowshoe, you can appreciate the book. The routes range from flat walks to summit hikes, all are within a reasonable distance of the Front Range. And:
"I've snowshoed and skied most of those trails, and a lot of the trails are good for both snowshoers and skiers," he said.
Maybe I'll dust off my snowshoes this winter. My skis don't need it -- the dust wipes away every time I slide backwards.