Kevin Hickey is the owner and director of Tahoe Adventure Company, which offers nighttime snowshoeing—including full moon, stargazing and sunset tours. Learn more about regularly scheduled and custom tours at tahoeadventurecompany.com.
What can you tell me about the nighttime snowshoeing tours?
In general, we just kind of like to have something for everybody—people who have been there, done that, and people who have never, ever done anything out in the snow. … We offer the sunset snowshoe tour pretty much every Friday … though we do have an [open calendar] so anybody can book any one of our trips on any given day. And really, a lot of times it depends on what’s going on with the sky. … Full moon tours, obviously, are the day before, the day of or the day after a full moon. … But then, at different times, when there might not be a bright moon, we’re able to do an evening snowshoe focused more on what is available in the sky as far as stars, constellations, planets, things like that—as well as covering kind of general astronomy information. … And then we have a handful of trips we do with Tony Berendsen … at Tahoe Star Tours, and he does all kinds of astronomy events around the area. And we usually partner with him and do a handful of kayak as well as snowshoe and more adventure-based astronomy tours, with his expertise included. And that’s usually a sunset experience on snowshoes, and then we finish off with him offering the use of his telescopes. And he does a multimedia presentation. On all of the trips we serve hot drinks and snacks—hot cocoa, cider, things like that.
What kind of athleticism does it take?
It doesn’t take much. … The particular conditions on the trail can potentially dictate the experience … [We may be] walking in some fresh snow. A lot of times—especially in the evening—we can stick to more packed down trails and in some instances groomed trails. … We also offer them in different places depending on … where people are staying and … what trails are open and available, given the snowpack. Generally, our rule is that if you can walk, you can snowshoe. The evening tours tend to travel only a mile or two. … We include poles as well. We teach people about the gear and different kind of snowshoes—why we use the ones we use. … They learn technique. And that’s all part of it—introducing people to this cool sport that’s very accessible and very easy with a small investment in gear.
What should people bring with them?
We provide a clothing list. In general, ski attire is nice to have. Temperatures can be fluctuating as it gets later in the evening. It’s nice to have non-cotton items—you know, hats, gloves. Sometimes we’re out there in the snow when it’s actually snowing. In those situations, having a pair of goggles can be helpful. Generally, evening tours are going on when it’s more clear out. … But certainly it’s possible in any conditions.
Is there a special appeal to snowshoeing at night?
For sure—it’s a very unique and special experience doing it at night. … Lots of people enjoy going out in the dark just because it’s so different and cool. You can only see where your headlamp shines or where you allow your senses to lead you. … For folks who maybe do have some experience [in snowshoeing], … going out at night, they can kind of take it to the next level.