January 2019

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SNOWTRAX - A SUPPLEMENT TO THE WINNIPEG FREE PRESS T H U R S DAY, JA N UA RY 2 4 , 2 019 A9 204-253-9236 10 Rue Des Meurons Western Canada's Only Urban Cross Country Ski Facility Find us on @wpnordic NOW OPEN 9 AM – 7 DAYS A WEEK • All Trails Lit for Night Skiing • Rentals & Lessons – Group or Private • Trails Groomed Daily • Clubhouse & Café Maintained & Operated by: Parkland See it for yourself! Manitoba's Discover activities, events and more at From snowmobiling to cross-country skiing, make tracks to Manitoba's Parkland Region this winter! View our NEW Winter Video on our website. Cairns Cabin, Riding Mountain National Park Asessippi Ski Area & Resort Cross-country ski on hundreds of kilometres of trails. Snowmobile on more than 3,300 kms of developed trails throughout the Parkland. 6837 Hwy 9 Selkirk, Manitoba 204.482.7782 POWERING THE INTERLAKE FOR 26 YEARS! S nowshoeing is one of Canada's oldest and most enduring winter activities. While it may not have captured the public's imagination the way ice hockey or curling has, it continues to draw thousands of experienced snowshoers and newcomers alike who strap up and head outdoors each winter. Just ask Dusty Molinski, a longtime snowshoeing enthusiast who works as the public programs coordinator at Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre near Stonewall. "I think part of the appeal is…it's part of Canadiana and part of our history from the Indigenous people through the fur traders and settlers to even now when it still persists," says Molinski, who grew up in Winnipeg but would often snowshoe on his grandparents' farm in the Eastman region as a kid. "Also, I think a lot of people are just looking to get out in the winter season and snowshoeing fits perfectly with that. It's just a good way to get out there." There's no lack of places for snowshoeing enthusiasts to get out there and visit in Manitoba. A number of provincial parks, including Spruce Woods and Whiteshell, have designated snowshoeing trails and many of them offer guided tours as part of their interpretive programs. Harbourview and Kilcona parks in northeast Winnipeg are another option for city dwellers who don't want to venture too far from home. Oak Hammock Marsh (www. remains one of the most popular destinations for both new and experienced snowshoers. Located about 20 kilometres north of Winnipeg on Highway 67, the non-profit wildlife management area has a series of groomed trails and offers free one-hour guided snowshoe walks with an interpreter each day as part of general admission to the facility. It also provides specialized monthly sessions for more experienced snowshoers that last about two hours and take visitors a little further afield. It also recently began offering a wintertime version of its popular Cache the March event that allows participants to do some geocaching on snowshoes. "We have a lot of people who come and bring other people from faraway places who have never had the chance to snowshoe and want to try out some winter activities here. That's a big segment, people coming to check out typical Canadian winter things," Molinski says. "Come wintertime it really lets you get to places (at the marsh) and see things that you couldn't in the other months. With the marsh frozen and the frozen plants in other areas you can really venture into places that we can't get to in the summer on foot or by canoe. Snowshoeing is your winter window into this world that you don't really get to see otherwise." Unlike some winter sports, snowshoeing doesn't cost an arm and a leg to enjoy. You can pick up a pair of lightweight, aluminum snowshoes for under $100 or borrow some from friends or family who have them hanging up in their garage. "I think that's a big part of its appeal," Molinski adds. "The upfront cost is relatively minor. Once you have snowshoes and some winter clothing you are ready to go. "I think whatever kind of snowshoes people can get a hold of are good ones to start with, whether it's older ones or brand new ones. Some people really love the big, long snowshoes because they go nice and straight. Some people really like the shorter ones because it's easier to turn. Whatever people find works for them are the right ones." Although a number of places offer snowshoeing lessons, Molinski says one of the more appealing aspects of snowshoeing is the fact its relatively easy to learn and most people pick it up pretty quickly. "There isn't a big learning curve to it at all," he says. "Often people find that it's easier than it looks. There's a misconception that you've got to walk with your legs far apart as if you're riding a horse. But really, with the way snowshoes are designed, it's essentially like regular walking but with snowshoes on. Once you get accustomed to it the first time…you'll be ready to go and venture almost anywhere." ❚ "I think part of the appeal is…it's part of Canadiana and part of our history from the Indigenous people through the fur traders and settlers to even now when it still persists." -Dusty Molinski IF THE SHOE FITS SNOWSHOEING REMAINS A POPULAR WINTER PASTIME BY JIM TIMLICK A group of snowshoers check out the sites at Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre near Stonewall. Photos courtesy Oak Hammock Marsh.

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