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Can snowshoeing count as a "hike" for hiking merit badge?

I’m trying to find any information, either official or semi-official, that will tell me if snowshoeing could count towards the hiking requirements for the hiking merit badge. I can’t find anything one way or the other. Does anyone know if this is a question that BSA has answered at any point, or is this simply an “it’s up to the SM” situation?

I understand that snowshoeing could count toward the snow sports merit badge, the camping merit badge, and an outdoor achievement award. And I understand that double-dipping is something to be avoided. Neverminding all that, I simply want to know if a “snowshoe hike” COULD be considered a “hike” for the purposes of the hiking merit badge.

Thoughts?

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As far as I know, the BSA has not addressed this specific question, so it would be at the Hiking merit badge counselor’s discretion whether to count it or not.

Having said that, Snow Sports merit badge requirement 7. Snowshoeing option requirement (i) says:

“Take a two-mile snowshoe hike with a buddy or your troop.”

So it seems logical to me that this would be a hike while wearing snowshoes. If I were the Hiking MBC, I would count it – assuming that the other Hiking merit badge requirements were also met (such as preparing the written hike plan before each hike, etc.).

One thing to be aware of for the Hiking merit badge is that:

“The required hikes for this badge may be used in fulfilling hiking requirements for rank advancement. However, these hikes cannot be used to fulfill requirements of other merit badges.”

So the hike could also (potentially) count towards Second Class requirement 3b.

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Ultimately, it’s up to the Hiking MB counselor who will sign-off on it as to whether or not it will count. That’s who I would really ask. As a Hiking MB counselor, I would likely count it barring any explicit reasons not to (e.g. double-dipping for another MB, as excluded by the requirements).

  • It is travel by walking (like hiking), not sliding (like skiing) or rolling (like cycling).
  • It’s the only practical way to “hike” any meaningful distance in deep snow. You can post-hole, but why? :^)
  • It requires all of the same planning steps as a regular hike, but adds the skills of walking on snowshoes and routefinding where the trail is often completely concealed (including trail signs).
  • It’s far more intense exercise (7-8 METs vs 4-6 for typical hiking, at least for me).

Truthfully, I probably wouldn’t actively encourage it, unless the scout involved has the skills to do it safely. I’ve been doing it a long time, and I still walked out on a cornice in an area I know quite well. Luckily, I realized it before gravity pointed it out to me, but that got my heart pounding a lot more than the snowshoeing itself did.

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@CharleyHamilton, I did the same on jury-rigged shoes. (Figures, my legit ones were back home where it didn’t even snow five inches instead of the five feet I was facing.) Gravity won! Fortunately the bowl I landed in was full of powder, so after a brief side-stroke through the stuff, I could re-rig.

Yeah, if snowshoeing is the scouts’ thing, and they knock out the requisite miles, I’d count it for hiking MB.

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Yeah, mine had a couple of hundred feet of exposure. I would have needed a lot of powder at the bottom. Glad to hear yours was “swimmable” after the drop.

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Yours was not a hike plan that I’d approve (at least not for myself)! Me, I was just making my way to Christmas brunch on a trail I had cut two years before using some scrap in the garage … well clear of the bluffs on Lake Erie (which can deceive even in summer)!
This is something that we need to condition scouts to do … making and reviewing hike/float plans.

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Yeah, the planned route generally doesn’t have a lot of exposure in summer, unless you’re pretty far off trail. My mistake was that “the edge” turned out to be ~ 20ft further “in” than I realized, so my “safety margin” wasn’t what I thought it was. I figured I was still on-trail, based on the tracks ahead of me. Apparently not!

Even those of us who’ve been doing things a while can make pretty significant mistakes. I try to use my “blooper reel” of stupid backpacker mistakes to warn the scouts about things before they make the same mistakes. My scoutmaster tried that with us when I was a scout, but many of us stubbornly insisted on making some anyway, and even created ones that were new to him. :laughing:

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If the scout can snowshoe 5 miles which is the minimum hiking distance for the merit badge, I would definitely credit that as a hike.

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Absolutely YES! Snowshoeing is just hiking with a special kind of shoe in the snow, but it is still a hike and if it otherwise meets the requirements you should accept it.

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I would say it will count as long as they do the mileage required.

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I don’t see why the shoes you wear can disqualify you from hiking. I say yes.

I have done a few overnight snowshoe backpacking trips and it’s a hike, that’s for sure.

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