In our last blog post, we discussed how a growing number of winter resorts are additionally catering to those looking for a more serene outdoor experience away from the flurry and fast pace of skiers and snowboarders. Snow shoe hiking or snow shoeing is one such activity that allows you to escape the crowds.
Not only can you access specially prepared trails (often marked on winter recreation maps available at most tourist offices); but with lightweight, wide-frame footwear strapped to your feet, you can explore ‘unchartered terrain’ and experience your own intimate pocket of snow-clad nature (this should be done within reason, without jeopardizing your safety, of course).
Numerous snow shoe hiking opportunities exist in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Tyrol and beyond; and while the history of snowshoeing is not completely known, one theory credits this particular region of the world to its origins. Often the inhabitants of the Caucasus are credited for attaching flat surfaces made of leather to the their feet 4,000 or more years ago; and the well-known “webbed snowshoe” is said to have come from North America’s First Nations. However, Archaeo News reported in February 2005 that, “Oetzi the Iceman may have been wearing the world’s earliest known snowshoes when he died in the Alps some 5,300 years ago.” Did you know the mummy of Oetzi (or Ötzi) was found in the Ötzal Alps in South Tyrol, near the border between Austria and Italy? You can “follow in the footsteps” of Ötzi to explore a variety of landscapes through forests and meadows, nature reserves and alpine terrains, to see stunning scenery and engage in exercise that benefits the mind, body and soul. Popular destinations range from the Lungau region or Rauris Valley in Salzburger Land to the Sexten (Sesto) Dolomites in South Tyrol; from Chateau-d’Oex in Vaud, Switzerland to the Chiemgau region in Bavaria. In this part of the world, many winter resorts and national park staff offer guided snow shoeing treks if you are so inclined. And in true alpine style, you can book an overnight accommodation in a mountain guest hotel or hut, or simply fill up there with a deliciously hearty meal.
To learn more about walking, hiking and snowshoeing opportunities in South Tyrol & the Dolomites, Germany, Switzerland and Austria, as well as nearby accommodations, visit TouchingNature.co.uk!