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Walking in a Winter Wonderland


There are two types of people in the world: those who like shoes, and those who wear New Balance to their job.

The Sweetheart Snowshoe Hike will be held Feb. 14.

The Sweetheart Snowshoe Hike will be held Feb. 14.

But how about for this Valentine’s Day: Surprise the person in your life with a day exploring new kicks and new activities.

The Sweetheart Snowshoe Hike combines a lighthearted sport with the tongue-in-cheek promises synonymous with Valentine’s Day — shoes were promised and snowshoes were delivered. And Jester Park has some great trails that allow visitors to enjoy a variety of habitats. From the shores of Saylorville Lake to Oak/Hickory woodland, the park is full of diversity.

“Many first-timers are surprised at how easy it is while still being a good workout,” said Patrice Petersen-Keys, environmental education coordinator with the Polk County Conservation. “You can explore areas that would be difficult if you were walking or cross country skiing.”

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This event was held several years ago and drew a lengthy waiting list. The event was brought back, and while it’s contingent on the weather conditions, this year seems to be promising. Most took last week’s powder plop in stride, so a chance to be outside without having to shovel has its allure.

“Without snow it has been difficult to think about doing winter activities,” Petersen-Keys said. “The snow we have now will make the conditions perfect for snow shoeing.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Making the inaccessible accessible is what snowshoeing is all about. The freshly fallen snow calls out like Gatsby’s green light beckoning all to venture into the unknown and unexplored. You and your partner can enjoy your own winter solitude or turn it into a social event.

Along with creating memories, snowshoeing offers numerous health benefits including a low-impact, aerobic exercise that helps you stay in shape during the winter. Your muscles and joints are stressed in different ways so you don’t get the overuse injuries that you might get running. As well, snowshoeing is a killer lower-body workout. Walking in snow is tough, so it works the muscles in the legs and butt.

New shoes, new workout and new memories. Instead of the usual dinner fare, get outside and make your own Valentine’s Day heat. End your hike around the campfire, and grab a tasty treat.

“The entire event will be outdoors (see sidebar),” said Petersen-Keys. “Refreshments will include hot beverages and simple snack that can be made over a campfire like smores and campfire pies.” CV


David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.


Patrice Petersen-Key’s advice on What To Wear:

Layers are best as they can be adjusted to your activity level and the weather. Avoid cotton.

Base layer: Synthetics and wool retain warmth even when wet. Wear long underwear that wicks away moisture, insulates well and dries quickly.

Insulating layer: Polyester fleece makes a good insulating mid-layer since it retains heat when wet and breathes as you exercise.

Outer layer: A waterproof, breathable shell jacket and pants keep you dry and fend off wind. Don’t forget a hat and gloves/mittens

Sunglasses and sunscreen will protect you from burning UV rays, which are especially intense when reflected off of snow.

Sweetheart Snowshoe Hike
Saturday, Feb. 14 from 1-2:30 p.m. and 3:30-5 p.m. Jester Park, Camp Area 5
Pre-registration required; deadline is Feb. 12. Fee: $20/couple (includes snowshoes.)

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