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Old 02-19-2017, 07:26 PM   #1
saabrian
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Snowshoes...

Hi, I've hiked a lot in the other three seasons but very little in winter, as I just got snowshoes last year. What is the guideline for when you should use snowshoes? I've seen recommendations that say when there are 2 inches of snow and others that say 6 or 8 inches... so I'm not sure. Thanks.
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Old 02-19-2017, 08:33 PM   #2
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I've used them in a dusting as a traction device. Mircrospikes are much lighter and more efficient though.

My rule of thumb has been once I start feeling the need for traction and my forefoot is rotating and losing efficiency. Usually around 4 inches or so, depending on the snow type.

If it's a smooth trail, I say wear skis or snowshoes if there is any snow that isn't completely hard, in other words, if people can or have skied it, use the shoes, otherwise you'll ruin the trail for them.

If it's kind of rocky trail that needs a lot of snow to ski, then you really aren't doing any harm as long as you really aren't rutting it up for other hikers.

I ski, snowshoe, bike, paddle, etc... so I try to be aware of my impact on the trails in terms of ecological impacts as well as impacts to other users. It's just a sense of courtesy. Maybe some don't know any better, but a lot just don't care. Think from another's perspective when you do something: "Will this bother the environment or someone else?" If you answer yes to either, then it's probably safe to assume it's not good idea, whether legal or not.
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Old 02-19-2017, 08:56 PM   #3
Pauly D.
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My rule of thumb is 4 inches as Montcalm states however it depends on what you're doing. For steep hikes it's less than 4 inches if the snow is soft like it was this past weekend.

Case in point I hiked Saturday wearing only microspikes and almost took a header off a rock ledge because the snow gave out under me on a steep sidehill lie. I should have been wearing snowshoes to spread out my weight but was too lazy to go back to my car to get them. You dig too far into the snow with just spikes in soft snow and it gives out easily. I was able to wedge my hiking staff between two trees to break my slide but I consider this a blessing and not the norm. If those two trees weren't there I would have careened off the cliff and you'd be reading about me in the DEC hall of shame in Tuesday's weekly email.

The other thing to consider is the snowshoes themselves. For steep, rocky hikes I prefer shoes with an aggressive side rail versus most modern shoes that just have crampons at the toe and heel. The extra traction really makes a difference. MSR Denali and MSR Ascent snowshoes have this feature. There are probably more brands too.

Be safe! Best of luck!!
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Old 02-19-2017, 09:40 PM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 02-20-2017, 09:33 AM   #5
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FWIW, if you plan to go snowshoeing in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness Area (EHPWA), there's a DEC regulation that obliges you to "possess and use" snowshoes when there's 8"+ of snow on the ground.

See: 190.13 f 3 vii

Outside of the EHPWA, consider using snowshoes when "bare-boots" leave significant impressions in the snow (unquestionably if they're "post-hole" deep).

The principal reason for not making "swiss cheese" of the trail is for everyone's safety. The impressions are liable to freeze into ankle-twisting pot-holes and make life miserable for other snowshoers and skiers.
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Old 02-20-2017, 11:49 AM   #6
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Whenever I meet someone on the trail who is bare-booting, I nicely tell them that they should be wearing snowshoes. The results have very positive, unlike when I tell someone they shouldn't be doing their dishes in the lake.
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Old 02-20-2017, 02:47 PM   #7
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We used snowshoes for our Jan lake road hike. Not so much to avoid post holing, snow was not more than 6". Rather we found we could move along easier with them.

This last weekend I was hiking part of the finger lakes trail and missed them. 4" deep again, did not think to bring them because it was so shallow. But it felt like every time I put my foot down it would slide or twist a bit. Felt like I was losing half a step back for every two forward.

It was a bit slushy though, snow shoes may have iced up some.
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Old 02-20-2017, 03:50 PM   #8
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I agree with the four-inch rule, especially in the Forest Preserve and obviously in areas like the EHPW where it is required. My wife and I had ours on this weekend while tapping our maple trees and collecting some sap. We also hung a wood duck box in the beaver marsh behind our home. The difference in the snowpack between Saturday morning and this morning was noticeably less but there is still more snow in the woods than in the open. Keep that in mind going forward.
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Old 03-06-2017, 08:46 AM   #9
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Do folks use water proof hiking boots with snow shoes, insulated waterproof hiking boots or full on winter boots. Our Jan trip we did the winter boot thing. Feet were uncomfortable and boots were heavy but feet were warm.

Wondering if liner, vapor barrier, wool sock and hiking boot would suffice.
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Old 03-06-2017, 10:59 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tenderfoot View Post
Do folks use water proof hiking boots with snow shoes, insulated waterproof hiking boots or full on winter boots. Our Jan trip we did the winter boot thing. Feet were uncomfortable and boots were heavy but feet were warm.

Wondering if liner, vapor barrier, wool sock and hiking boot would suffice.
I've had good luck with these Boots... Warm, lightweight, & waterproof.
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