Category Archives: Park

Free Entry to National Parks This Weekend

Free park entry for all — plus Winter Trails Day in Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday

I bought my first annual National Parks pass shortly after moving to Colorado in 1988, and I have not bee pass-less (pass-free?) since then. The two east entrances to Rocky Mountain National Park are less than an hour from my door, and it is a favorite year-round excursion for me, my husband, various various and visitors. We go there to hike, to ski-tour, to snowshoe, to see wildlife, to sightsee and very occasionally to backpack.

We won’t need our pass this weekend,  because all 394 units administered by the National Park Service, of which 5b (including RMNP) are designated National Parks. That means you can grab your snowshoes, if you are in the north country (or even some parts of the South, given recent weather patterns), and “test-drive” the nearest park, gratis.

Coloradans have a special bonus, with Winter Trails Day with its opportunity to try out snowshoes for free and join snowshoe walks without paying the normal entry fee. Most other Winter Trails Days around the country took place last weekend, but the Estes Park/RMNP day is Saturday, January 15, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. again, based at the summer shuttle Bear Lake shuttle parking lot along the Bear Lake Road. Snowshoe makers are lending equipment, the Estes Park Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the event and REI staffers are adding their expertise.

Forest Versus Trees

Considering what really matters in fitness walking with poles

I have been following the impassioned and yet dispiriting discussion on the UK-based Nordic Walking eCommunity about whether Pacer Poles with their unconventional grips can be considered Nordic Walking poles in the broadest sense of the term. Click here if you care to slog through the discussion on the topic, “Is There A Place For Pacerpoling on a – Nordic Walking – Forum?”

I read through long discourses on why Pacer Poles belong or don’t belong, a divisive thread that seems to pit purists versus globalists. I read the tangential discussion about whether the Pacer Pole people play well with others, which is totally irrelevant to an individual who wants to gain fitness by walking with specially designed poles.

Against this background, I was heartened to read a post by a Canadian blogger named Deborah who writes “The Unbearable Lightness of Becoming.” I don’t know her last name, nor do I care. She describes herself as “a 41 year old female living in the beautiful province of New Brunswick.” She has been trying to lose weight and also seems to be a fairly new Nordic Walker who just completed half-marathon. She wrote a post titled “I choose Not to run! But I will Nordic Walk” that continued, “Which is exactly what I did do this past Sunday for a half-marathon. I am proud of myself for seeing this through because I am a great one for starting something and giving up half-way through. It was a tough ten weeks. Today I hurt in places I did not know I even had but it is worth it.”

She didn’t write about which poles she uses or even whether they are one-piece or adjustable, which shoes she wears, which technique she practices and whether it is biomechanically correct. She wrote about setting a goal and accomplishing it, feeling proud and strong. Her enthusiasm for walking with poles is palpable. And that, IMHO, is what everyone in the small community and smaller “industry” should be focusing on.

Exerstrider founder Tom Rutlin, who himself was long considered an outsider and renegade by the orthodox Nordic Walking community, wrote on the eCommunity thread, “Pole walking in just about any form trumps ordinary bipedal walking (for health benefits, enjoyment and motivation). Let’s all  finally all begin to concentrate far more on getting more people to ‘taste’ this wonderful healthy activity which just happens to come in a number of flavors’ — all of which would likely to be equally tasty to those without prejudiced minds, not to mention the kind of fear and confusion arising from the endless technique and equipment debates which have too long obscured to the outside world’ the simple fact that ‘Walking with poles is great!’.” Amen.

Denver’s City Park is Excellent for Nordic Walking

City Park is 330 clean and green acres that invite Nordic Walking

Late this afternoon, we went to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science for one of the final local showings “The Alps,” an IMAX presentation filmed in Switzerland that we had been intending to see since it opened months ago. We went into the museum on a late afternoon of dazzling sunshine and a refreshing breeze that whispered, “Go for a walk.” After the show, we did. I had a pair of Nordic Walking poles in the car, so off we went. We circled to the west side of museum past the rose garden and the children’s play fountain to the recreation paths that loop for about three miles past one sizable lake and two smaller ponds, past playgrounds and playing fields, past natural features and heroic statues. Lawns, trees and the Denver skyline to the west with the mountain panorama make a walk in this spacious urban park varied and scenic.

The wide paths are partly covered in asphalt and partly firm dirt covered in fine gravel. Alternating surfaces provided something of a dilemma when it came to tip tactics. Sometimes I removed the rubber paws from the tips, only to put them on again a few minutes later, and sometimes I simply left them off for a while and walked on the grass beside the path. We encountered just a few walkers, runners and cyclists and, near the water, geese and goslings that showed no fear of people but do drop little “reminders” on the grass and on the paths that recreationists do want to avoid.

I’m not about to drive to Denver just for a walk in an urban park, but if I lived nearby, I’d be Nordic Walking in City Park every day.