After spending years flying down mountains on skis and tempering the velocity to savor the sights, Debbie Barnard is reinventing her snow life on snowshoes.
A back injury and arthritis have curtailed her ability to bask in her favorite pastime the past five years.
"I really miss it," she says.
Barnard is learning to appreciate a new activity that can be as gentle as a stroll in the park or as vigorous as a sweaty hike up Mount Shasta.
Caught shopping recently at REI, she said she plans to be at the Winter Trails Day event that REI plans Jan. 9 near the Kirkwood Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Center.
She said she could hardly wait. Snowshoers will be able to try out a variety of equipment on the trails and get expert advice on technique.
Cathy Anderson-Meyers, a snowshoeing instructor and ardent snowshoer, says the sport has grown in popularity as people realize that snow doesn't have to keep them from hiking through wilderness. The icicles and white stuff provide breathtaking accents to the terrain.
"Snowshoeing isn't to replace a sport you already love, but something to do in addition," says Anderson-Meyers. "My whole family could do it."
Anderson-Meyers, who got rolling in snowshoeing in 1992, frequents the surrounding snow destinations, and her eyes widen in excitement with thoughts of lunging through Yosemite.
And no lift ticket is required.
Snowshoes are lighter today, and they come in different sizes for men and women. Men's shoes provide more surface space to accommodate heavier frames. Women's are narrower for easier walking.
People of all skill and fitness levels are finding a place in snowshoeing. Barnard believes that the tranquility of snow-shoeing will untie her arms so she can fully enjoy the snow and escape her winter doldrums.
Barnard never quite found her solution until her brother encouraged her to give snowshoeing a chance.
While at the Roseville REI, she paced the aisles, hoping an investment in snowshoes and boots would rekindle her winter spirit.
"I'm really looking forward to it," she says. "It could be so gorgeous, and the snow," she paused, "it just twinkles."