Snowshoeing in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains

snowshoeing, Colorado, snowshoe

Karla gives snowshoeing a try in Colorado. (Photo:


Greetings again from Colorado! My first day in the Rockies, my husband and I enjoyed a muddy run with literally breathtaking scenery near 9,000 feet above sea level in Tabernash, Colorado.

But for two mornings in a row, we have woken up to complete white-out conditions. The early hours of Sunday morning brought us 7 inches of fresh powdery snow with up to 10 inches on the mountain.

Too deep to run, there was only one thing left to do: snowshoe!

snowshoeing, showshoe, Colorado

We woke up to a white-out outside our window. (Photo:


Snowshoeing, Snowshoe, Colorado, Rocky Mountains

Phil breaks our trail through the snow. (Photo:

For a few winters now, I’ve been wanting to give snowshoeing a try. My husband, being Canadian, has been snowshoeing before.

“You realize snowshoeing is just walking, right?” Phil has asked me repeatedly.

Yes, yes, I did know that snowshoeing is just walking. Except that it’s not, as I discovered on my first snowshoeing adventure.

We headed out on the very same trails that we’d run just a day before, now covered in an endless blanket of untouched snow. We almost felt like we were in a black-and-white photo as white or grey covered every inch of ground and every patch of sky.

We rented our snowshoes from the activities desk of Devil’s Thumb Ranch, where we were staying. Since we hadn’t brought snow boots, they gave us cross-country ski boots to wear with our snowshoes.

snowshoeing, snowshoe, Colorado

Karla breaks trail through the snow. (Photo:


It was incredibly windy in the valley where the 6,000 acre ranch sits. It was 20 degrees, but felt more like 3 degrees with the windchill factor. My cheeks stung, but the effort of moving through the fresh snow kept my body plenty warm.

showshoeing, snowshoe, Colorado

We trudged through fresh, unmarked snow. (Photo:


We were the first people to venture into the trails that day, which made for a magical experience. We felt like we were the only two people alive, forging through unknown territory. Not even animal tracks graced the snow yet. We were the first to spoil the blank palette of white.

snowshoeing, snowshoe, Colorado

A trail post at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Colorado. (Photo:

It was slow going. The snow was so deep—with 7-10 fresh inches on top of what had been sitting there all winter—that we kept sinking into the snow even in snowshoes. And as the first people to venture out after the fresh snowfall, we were breaking the trail anew. The effort felt similar to wading through water or marching with ankle weights on. My legs and my lungs burned. And the wind made our efforts that much harder.

We spent 2 hours out on the trails in our snowshoes. In that time, we only managed to cover 3 miles. If I’d been running on paved ground, I could have covered 12 miles in the same amount of time.

But it was oddly satisfying to work so hard for such little gain. I felt like a wanderer or a warrior, like Jon Snow of “Game of Thrones” beholding the vast tundra of Westeros north of The Wall.

After my first snowshoeing adventure I would heartily try the sport again. It was a nice cross-training alternative to running on a treadmill in the gym. It was peaceful and challenging at the same time.

snowshoeing, snowshoe, Colorado

Snowshoeing is challenging but enjoyable. (Photo:


My Colorado vacation has come to an end. It’s snowing outside as I type. I’ll be glad to return to Spring in New York City. But I certainly enjoyed this winter sojourn in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ web show about running. She has completed six marathons, two triathlons and trains with the New York Harriers. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.


04 2013