Tony Oliver got busy Sunday afternoon expanding a new snowshoe trail built among the ski routes of the Tsalteshi Trail system. He and four others were set on adding loops to the already 3.6-kilometer trail.
Oliver’s actions are in keeping with the philosophy of the new snowshoe route as long as they stay off the ski trails or cross them in the correct spots — trail locations were skiers are moving uphill.
Tsalteshi Trails maintenance manager Bill Holt said that the snowshoe trail grew out of a need to get a growing number of snowshoers off the ski trails and onto a route of their own. Snowshoeing is not very compatible with skiing and there have been troubles in the past with grooming and safety issues, Holt said.
Oliver described Sunday as a couple of hours “playing in the woods, breaking a fresh snowshoe trail, and then checking out the new trail.”
Previous to the new trail, which is not yet named, snowshoers were asked to keep to the Wolverine Trail that starts at the Kalifornsky Beach Road entrance.
Holt said that not many snowshoers have taken to the new trail because they just don’t know about it yet. For years snowshoeing has grown as a groomed-trail sport and moved from a backcountry oriented one. As that change has come, people took to Tsalteshi’s ski trails on snowshoes to run and walk, both great forms of aerobic exercise. Snowshoes have evolved over the years and become smaller and smaller. Today a pair can be fond that is not much bigger than a pair of winter boots.
The idea behind the new trail was simple: work through the Tsalteshi land crossing the ski trails at safe places. In doing so, give snowshoers a mix between an isolated trail and one that people can walk side-by-side throughout he woods.
Over the last few years Holt and others hacked the trail out of the trees. It’s more rugged that the ski trails, Holt said. There was trouble getting trail association volunteers to help with the trail building, but then an Eagle Scout candidate brought in a troop of Boy Scouts and cleared the section from Skyview High School to the Bear Trail. This summer and fall the trail was cut the rest of the way to the Wolverine Trail near K-Beach.
“The trail climbs a really beautiful ridge,” Holt said. “It’s too steep to ski, but not to walk up.”
When summer returns the, trail will keep equivalency to the main routes and become a single-track mountain bike trail. Holt said some additional work will be needed to make it an attractive route — “a swoop here and there and a few banked turns.”
For now, the idea is to get the word out that the snowshoe trail is there and ready for use. The signs have changed to include the new route and so has the kiosk at Skyview High School. The trail is marked out with orange engineer tape for now, but signs made of little wooden snowshoes will eventually replace the tape.
Holt there is definitely and “isolated feel” to the trail. He’s walked it a bunch during the building and expects that as more people that use it more people will know it’s there leading to more use.
“I love walking on it,” Holt said.
Reach Greg Skinner at firstname.lastname@example.org.