Sequim Gazette file photo

Snowshoes a hot-ticket item in the Comox Valley

Pandemic has sparked demand for trudging through Vancouver Island snow

The ski season is in its early stages, and snowshoe sales are through the roof at Mount Washington and at Comox Valley businesses.

“We have an online rental system for snowshoes, and they go pretty quick from what I’ve heard,” said Kayla Stockton, marketing manager at the mountain.

Blue Toque Sports in Courtenay, which carries used and new snowshoes, is having a challenging time keeping up with the snowshoe demand.

“This year, we’ve already sold double what we used to in just a month-and-a-half of snow,” said Damien Jannet, an employee at Blue Toque. “Even the rentals, people now book a week in advance.”

The story is similar at Ski Tak Hut, also located in downtown Courtenay, where snowshoes and cross-county skis have been hot-ticket items this winter.

“Those sales, I think Canada-wide, have sold out. I can’t replenish, I can’t buy any more,” said Cam McDonald, a partner at Ski Tak Hut. “I haven’t had one snowshoe in here since before Christmas.

“They always sell out. Usually by January I couldn’t purchase any more from suppliers. But this year was a lot earlier. I couldn’t purchase anything back in November.”

Jannet notes a number of reasons why snowshoeing appeals to all walks of life: It’s a relatively risk-free activity that is ideal for people on a budget, or for those lacking the skills required for skiing or snowboarding.

“It’s a nice sport,” he said. “It’s kind of like hiking, and going in nature.”

He also notes that many people who used to venture south for the winter are home this year, abiding by non-essential travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

“That’s exactly the population of snowshoeing,” he said.