Winter Walking at Coot Lake & Boulder Reservoir

Flat, snow-covered trails make for fabulous winter walking

 I live in dry climate where even the cold tends not to be biting, so fleece gloves do the trick, even for a my daily early-morning two-miler. Over the weekend, my husband, a friend and I took a mid-day walk on the Coot Lake/Boulder Reservoir trails. Modest-size Coot Lake was frozen over with the ice thick enough to hold an adult’s weight and even to allow for some ice fishing.

The reservoir is too large to have frozen over, but in addition to Coot Lake, the surrounding wetlands were frozen solid and the foothills to the west were powdered in white.

The unpaved trail was covered with packed yet soft snow, with no icy spots. Such traction devices as YakTrax underfoot and studded paws on the poles were unnecessary, as were warm gloves, warm hat, gaiters, neck gaiter, scarf or any other real cold-weather wear. A basebell cap with a visor, sunglasses and sunscreen were useful.

Our charmed climate was brought home with a current discussion on the Nordic Walking eCommunity about winter walking and cold hands. Co-moderator Ed Urbanski wrote, “I always wear heavy down mittens when the temps drop below 20 degrees or so. Also I always use my Exerstrider poles with the ergonomic handles and no straps. Straps can cut off the circulation in the hands.” He also suggested, “hold the poles like you would hold a bird, tight enough so that the bird does not fly away, but loose enough so that you do not hurt the bird.” Yet another moderator, Marek Zalewski, suggested glove liners inside mittens.

Exerstrider‘s Tom Rutlin suggest bikers’ mitts, and I found a list of several makers on grad student/bicyle commuter John Martin’s blog called Regarding John. Click here for a 2008 post on the subject with his list and prices at the time (Googling to find links is up to you):

•Gallon Jug Pogies  (~$6/pr)
•Cabela’s Handlebar mittens ($20/pr)
•Climitts ($36/pr)
•Moose Mitts ($60/pr)
•Bar Mitts (for drop bars) ($65/pr)
•Apocalypse Design Bike Toasties ($84/pr)
•Dogwood Design Pogies ($90/pr)
•Expedition Pogies ($200/pr)

Am I gloating because I don’t usually such gear? I guess a little. I love to ski, cross-country ski, snowshoe and Nordic Walk in winter, and I’m happy that Boulder’s winter’s are benign enough to do so without having to dress as if for an expedition..

7 thoughts on “Winter Walking at Coot Lake & Boulder Reservoir”

  1. Many excellent warm, windproof gloves or mittens are simply too bulky to be used with the closely fitting strap designs used for nordic walking poles. Originally developed for x-c skiing poles, these strap designs were intended for racers, who had no need for straps with a wide range of adjustment that could accommodate heavily insulated, bulky gloves or mittens. Nordic walkers searching for winter gloves or mittens have to make a careful trade-off between warmth and bulk. For my winter nordic walking, scuba diving gloves give me the best trade-off. Their design, materials, and construction make them windproof, waterproof, and warm with little more bulk than a lightly insulated x-c skiing glove. For temperatures down to 20 degrees F, I use 3 mm thick gloves; for temperatures below 20 degrees F, 5 mm thick gloves.

  2. Even in Summit County, above 9,000 feet, the weather's been pleasant enough to hike with fleece gloves lately.

  3. Winter nordic walking is very easy and fun. It's not different then cross country skiing. With temperature that goes as low as -30C, we're able to have customers walking every day. We're lucky to have some walking path that are grooved just for walkers, so walking in winter time on the snow is a joyful experience. Just need to have the proper clothing. Multiple layers for the upper body and the legs, cross country skiing gloves are often enough, if not a small overmit to had an extra layer of air. For the head, if it's under -20C, a balaclava such as Louis Garneau plus a winter hat. Keep your underfoot tracks close in case you encounter a somehow slippery path.

    It's misinformation to think that straps will cut off the circulation of blood. With the proper gloves and proper strapping, it should not happen and it did not happened to any of my hundreds of customers I had thru the years. The fact that you open up and close your hand activate blood circulation to the fingers instead of having a stiff hand on a strapless handle.

    Enjoy nordic walking in any conditions and any season. Remember that "there's no bad weather for nordic walking, only improper clothing" (France Paquin)

    Patrice Duclos, INWA National Coach
    Mirabel, Québec, Canada

  4. Nordic Walking and cross country skiing are my two favorite winter sports. And both provide effective and FUN workouts. The poles for both Nordic Walking and cross country skiing are similar – however the correct length Nordic Walking Poles are shorter than for xc skiing.

    The philosophy for dressing for both of these great outdoor activities is similar – dress in layers. And know that it won't take long for you to warm up even on the coldest of days.

    Many skiers find SWIX clothing and gloves ideal for all types of winter weather. For extreme cold xc skiers enjoy SWIX's Split Mitts (lobster gloves). I usually xc ski and Nordic Walk with uninstalled SWIX xc ski gloves and in extreme cold put on some SWIX insulated gloves.

    I have never heard of straps cutting off circulation as one person commented. I've coached skiers for over 25 years and if the straps are adjusted correctly there is no loss of circulation – at least not on poles equipped with quality straps. Click-in-click-out straps often don't accommodate gloves and mittens because the are missing the size adjusting loop at the top of the poles.

    My favorite straps are made by SWIX and EXEL – patented by the Salomon Ski Company. They perform flawlessly for both xc skiing and Nordic Walking. Just tonight I was able to accommodate a variety of hand sizes, gloves and mittens with these same quality straps while coaching xc skiing. No one had his or her circulation cut off. Fleece gloves are another great option too.

    When the snow melts we keep on Nordic Walking (year round) and do some roller skiing too (same cool straps on the roller ski poles too – fingerless glove type straps patented by the Salomon Ski Company.

    Get out and enjoy winter!

  5. Nordic Walking and cross country skiing are my two favorite winter sports. And both provide effective and FUN workouts. The poles for both Nordic Walking and cross country skiing are similar – however the correct length Nordic Walking Poles are shorter than for xc skiing.

    The philosophy for dressing for both of these great outdoor activities is similar – dress in layers. And know that it won't take long for you to warm up even on the coldest of days.

    Many skiers find SWIX clothing and gloves ideal for all types of winter weather. For extreme cold xc skiers enjoy SWIX's Split Mitts (lobster gloves). I usually xc ski and Nordic Walk with uninstalled SWIX xc ski gloves and in extreme cold put on some SWIX insulated gloves.

    I have never heard of straps cutting off circulation as one person commented. I've coached skiers for over 25 years and if the straps are adjusted correctly there is no loss of circulation – at least not on poles equipped with quality straps. Click-in-click-out straps often don't accommodate gloves and mittens because the are missing the size adjusting loop at the top of the poles.

    My favorite straps are made by SWIX and EXEL – patented by the Salomon Ski Company. They perform flawlessly for both xc skiing and Nordic Walking. Just tonight I was able to accommodate a variety of hand sizes, gloves and mittens with these same quality straps while coaching xc skiing. No one had his or her circulation cut off. Fleece gloves are another great option too.

    When the snow melts we keep on Nordic Walking (year round) and do some roller skiing too. The same cool straps on our roller ski poles too – fingerless glove type straps patented by the Salomon Ski Company.

    Get out and enjoy winter!

  6. Pete – I know you as a strong supporter of Nordic Walking in general, one-piece poles in particular and as an energetic organizer of classes and workshops inb your area. I was recently thumbing through the North American SnowSports Journalists Assn directory and saw that you also belong. I hadn't realized that. Perhaps our paths will cross one day at a NASJA event.

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