Winter Walk

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— Joe and Ann Wills are distance runners and avid hikers, so snowshoeing from the base of Mount Werner to the gondola and over to 4 Points seemed like a good workout Monday afternoon.

The Louisiana couple vacationing in Steamboat Springs came back to the mountain Tuesday for more snowshoeing, only this time the venture was a little less rigorous. The Wills joined four other Steamboat tourists on a snowshoe tour and gourmet lunch on the mountain.

"(Snowshoeing) is about all I've done and I'll probably snowshoe the rest of the time we're here," Joe said. "Today was a good rest day."

New this year, the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. offers a snowshoe tour that begins at Thunderhead Lodge and follows various catwalks to Ragnar's for a gourmet lunch and then returns to the gondola.

Although they are expert runners and hikers, the Wills said they still would consider themselves beginners at snowshoeing. "There's probably not a lot of snowshoers from Louisiana maybe mudshoers," Joe Wills said.

On Tuesday's tour, globs of snow fell from treetops as 40-degree temperatures thawed the area considerably and made for a comfortable hike. A group of six Steamboat Springs tourists and two Steamboat Ambassadors went on the tour.

As hikers walked along the edge of some of Mount Werner's treacherous black diamond mogul runs, Steamboat Ambassadors Gail Eden and Sandy Goggin told the hikers tales of the Northern Ute Indians, pointed out the various peaks and plateaus on the horizon and gave a brief history of Steamboat Springs.

Bruce and Lisa Friedman of Michigan said they would have liked more of a physical challenge. "But it probably depends on who's going and you probably have to have different levels," Bruce Friedman said.

Lyn Halliday, Ski Corp. director of guest services, said guests ranging in age from 8 to 81 have gone on the tour.

"These people are having an experience they wouldn't normally have," said Halliday, who organized the snowshoe tour.

"That 81-year-old man wasn't sure if he could make it, but he did."

Halliday said the snowshoeing tour gives people a sense of accomplishment. And snowshoeing is a great way for tourists to take in the natural beauty around Steamboat.

"We're here to create memories," Halliday said.

Halliday met with Eden in the fall to organize the snowshoeing tour. The idea was to try to capitalize on the success of the summer hike and gourmet lunch.

Eden said the summer hike started slow but began gaining in popularity during the summer. Now, the snowshoeing venture is seeing a similar response.

"It's just such a great program for people who don't ski or for those who want a day off from skiing," Eden said.

"We had to turn people away," Halliday said of the snowshoe tour just before Christmas.

Venturing back onto Duster after lunch, Eden and Riley Polumbus, of Ski Corp.'s public relations office, decided to head into the trees for a powder snowshoe.

As the group followed Eden, visitors Mark and Gail O'Brien of Michigan stumbled over buried aspen trees and found themselves with a face full of snow.

Polumbus recommended layering clothing for the snowshoe tour.

"I just wear my ski clothes," Polumbus said.

Waterproof shoes are a must (hiking boots or after-ski boots will do). It's also important that snowshoers bring water.

"Water is a big thing," Polumbus said. "It's a good thing to bring."

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