I first discovered these incredible creatures when I visited San Francisco in 2007 and it was love at first sight. Their prehistoric nature, majestic wingspan and peculiar feeding style fascinated me. I spent hours trying to photograph them from the docks of Fort Mason and learned that near sunset every evening, thousands make their way west across the Bay – flying under and over the Golden Gate to nest on the rocks near the Sutro Baths.
Brown pelicans, San Francisco.
For those of us who’ve attempted to learn how to ski or snowboard after the age of thirty and found the whole experience to be, let’s say, less-than-fun, I highly recommend snowshoeing as the perfect alternative. You can still get the fresh air and exercise, and feel you’ve earned your apres-ski time next to the bar and the fire, but without the stress. Instead of feeling frustrated at being the rookie who can’t keep up (and let’s face it, if your friends have been skiing since they were kids, you’re always going to feel that way), terrified about crashing into a tree, dislocating a limb, or getting pegged off by the neophyte snowboarders barreling down the mountain behind you, become an expert at something most of your ski and boarding friends have never tried.
The other major advantage to being a snowshoer instead of a skier or boarder is moving at a pace leisurely enough to capture the stunning beauty of a winter’s day. In my humble opinion, enjoying the outdoors doesn’t get better.
And in case you aren’t familiar with what snowshoes look like these days (I still imagined a tennis racket strapped to my foot), here’s a shot of my rentals from Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah.
And yes, they’re as light and comfortable as they look.
Intrigued? I highly recommend a trip to Solitude’s Nordic Center. They have an extensive plot of easy-to-navigate trails that offer unlimited opportunities to keep yourself entertained as you adventure.
And if you have other snowshoe destination recommendations, I’d love to hear about them!