Those of us who head into the backcountry on xc skis or snowshoes are a typically independent lot.
Getting away from the crowds and enjoying the solitude and beauty of the unspoiled forest trump the ease of skiing at a resort.
The quietude and wonder of being on the snow, in the winter decorated forest, far from the hustle and bustle of the resorts, are worth the calories it takes to get out there.
At a downhill resort, you just show up, either with your own gear, or renting the latest and greatest from the resort. You need the right clothing for the conditions, but the lifts take you to the top, and the food service is always available and pretty good.
Lessons, at both xc and downhill resorts, are available, and the kiddies can take classes and spend the day at the children's center.
In the backcountry you bring you own gear, food, water and so on. You also bring a certain set of expectations. Courtesy is always on tap out there, or at least it should be.
A few simple things to remember for snowshoe and xc skiers will make everyone's day much better.
First, if you take it in, take it out. There isn't a crew that will come behind you to haul out your trash.
If you take your wonder dog with you, take doggie poop bags with you. When your dog decorates the snow with dog logs, clean up. Crossing a field of dog logs isn't in anyone's list of things to do in the backcountry, and it's bad for the forest as well.
Stay out of the tracks laid down by snowshoes if you are on xc skis. Stay in the xc tracks that are already there, or make your own.
Stay out of the tracks laid down by xc skiers if you are on snowshoes. Stay in the snowshoe tracks that are already there, or make your own.
The reason for staying in the tracks that have been laid down by others on snowshoes or xc skis is simple.
XC tracks are skinny and relatively smooth. Those on xc skis who aren't breaking trail enjoy the added ease of kicking and gliding in these tracks. It is a real drag, literally, to have the trail bombed out by snowshoes. There is no reason for snowshoes to follow xc tracks.
Snowshoe tracks are easier to snowshoe in if only snowshoes have been there. Snowshoe tracks are wide and often a bit bumpy. After a few snowshoes have gone over them, they get packed down, and can be hard and bumpy. XC skiers typically avoid these.
Enjoy the backcountry, and respect the tracks of others while you are out there.