Written by Carl Heilman, March 1984

Well, there’s downhill skiing, cross country skiing, skijoring, and now ski-shoeing. Skis-shoeing isn’t exactly a combination of activities at once, but rather a combination of two activities done in the same day.

Cross Country skiing and snowshoeing; each sport has its own merits. Ah, to glide along on skis over a meandering course on a crisp winter day. Skiing is great, but I find I glide right past a lot of scenery I used to notice while on snowshoes. They are a great way to get somewhere fast. I find I am more confined to the valleys though, since that’s where the majority of the level, faster trails are. It’s possible to climb on skis, but I find them much more cumbersome than climbing with snowshoes. Coming down those steep mountain trails on skis can also be hazardous to one’s health, as well as that of the trees strategically placed on those right angle corners.

Snowshoeing, one of the oldest means of snow travel known to man, reached a state of high development here in the North America’s snow belt. Snowshoes were a necessity for the natives, as well as early settlers throughout the northern snow regions. The Maine, pickerel, and wide bear paw styles of yesteryear have been modified over the past decades to the slimmer, smaller styles seen most often today. These shoes, such as wood frame 8″ x 26″ Catpaws, and 9″ x 31″ Trailpaws, or aluminum frame shoes of similar size are excellent for climbing, bushwhacking, and hiking. The newer bindings also work well with ski boots, so the combination of small shoes and modern bindings are perfect for ski-shoeing.

Most of the higher Adirondack peaks are reached by trails of at least 7 to 8 miles in length. The approach is often fairly level and skiable, while the last couple of miles cover quite a steep ascent. A lot these become accessible for day trips by skiing in as far as possible, then snowshoeing the remaining distance. Much of the Great Range, Colden, and the MacIntrye’s are within reach by ski-shoeing, as well as some of the surrounding trail-less summits.

Dig out those snowshoes the skis retired, and enjoy the peaks in winter! Ski-shoeing is a great way to day trip otherwise inaccessible peaks, and have the best of both worlds!