Whats this have to do with Mountain biking you ask? Everything when there is to much snow to cycle I break out the bipedal motion baby.
Snowshoeing was one of those things that I never understood why itís fun. I mean, it really is quite a bit of work. So Iím not exactly sure why I got into snowshoeing at all. I know I was tired of snowmachines, as odd as that sounds. Don't get me wrong, snowmobiles are a ton of fun but it seemed like a plug was always fowling or you were getting stuck. The thing that really ended snowmobiles for me was the snowpack seemed to be getting lower and lower. Being uninterested in a collision with a stump or a rock, I simply quit snowmobiling a few years ago and sold our old machines.
Enter the snowshoe, which makes no real good sense. Rather than propel yourself thru modern innovation and mechanical power, you now go back to what has moved humans for thousands of years: your own body motion with something strapped to the bottom of your feet. Damn, I really am losing it I guess. Anyhow, on with our story. For Christmas one year my Sis and her hubby bought me a pair of snowshoes. I didnt get to do much with them except trudging around in the yard like some little kid excited to have a new plastic and metal toy that helped me float on top of the snow. Then I started taking them with me out hunting, finally realizing that wading through knee deep snow was damned near insanity. I would toss them in the back of the truck and off I would go, if I needed em, they were there, and help they did.
I found the first time on the snowshoes was easy but it seemed I would lean back a bit and walked almost like a chimp, a fitting sight for someone who has carried the nickname Gorilla and Shrek. I wonder if someone also mistook me for Sasquatch wearing a jacket the first couple times, come to think of it........
After a bit a friend Dave picked himself up a pair of shoes and we had our first excursion together one fine April on some harder snow. We had a good time but the best part was heading back to the truck when it was getting dark. With the shadows looming and the trolls and brigands hiding in them, Daveís mind raced, wondering when we would be waylaid and the coyotes howling in the shadows would chew on his tired muscles because he was no longer able to run. Now, I have a different vision of the dark; it is when sounds come alive, you know. That single stick can be heard breaking, the sound of a pawed foot sinking in the snow can be heard, and eyes reflect nicely off the beam of a flashlight, if I even have one, which I usually do not.
Anyhow, we continued through, me taking in the crisp cold night air enjoying the silence and Dave wondering why the truck was so far away and what the hell could possibly be wrong with me. Needless to say, and of no surprise, we made it back to the truck safely with nothing eventful happening. In Dave's mind, though, I think we barely made it back to the truck with seconds to spare as the salivating wolves cricled about wondering when their next opportune chance at prey would come.
Fast forward a few more excursions and we would end up in six feet of powder. Still inexperienced, we did not know we needed poles and when we fell down it became a huge challenge to get up. We would, under my expert guidance, end up in a nice little potential avalanche bowl. Iím not sure my soothing words to Dave of "hey its cool, just don't sneeze and we should be good" really came across that way. I'm sure in his mind it was "holy crap the wife doesn't know where I'm at and we don't have beacons if we get buried". Well we made it to the top and beheld the majesty of sugarloaf peak looming before us. Dave didn't find my idea of trudging to it all that great and with the wind tearing at our clothes and our camelbacks filling full of ice we decided to climb Everest next time, so back to the truck we started. Wait, I wouldn't be typing this if nothing had happened, and well known for my great luck, a Rivet popped which held my binding, making my right snowshoe nearly useless. We stopped and the only thing I could think of to use as a tie would be a piece of cord from my backpack. Tying hard plastic together is never a good thing and it held for only a few steps. I retied it, this time doubled it and taped it, and that got me a few hundred yards more. Dave cut our path helping to beat things down for me like a trooper. He fell and had to put up with the humiliation of me video taping him while I picked his helpless lanky ass up out of the snow. If you have ever heard my laugh before I'm sure you can sympathize with him on the humility it brings to anyone. Hyena's have been known to be jealous over it. After he brushed off we would vow to get some poles next time, a little unsure if ski poles would do the trick or not, but we had nothing to lose. Until we made it back that was moot anyhow.
Fast forward because obviously we made it or I would not be typing this story. I would fix my snowshoes that night putting in an aircraft grade rivet damn it, no more problems there. Until the next day when hiking in the same area I would pop every single rivet on both shoes. Luckily I had decided to toss some zip ties into my bag, making the trip back to the truck more of an annoyance than anything.
Being fed up with my current shoes, I would look into more. I found at that time there was a shoe for every kind of snowshoeing you could imagine. There were trail shoes for well groomed trails, others designed for a bit more snow and adventure, and of course shoes designed for quite literally scaling a mountain with bars in the back which lifted up to keep your heal up, making climbing easier. The best part of these would be the entire frames were made with pointed teeth on them. Surely this was the answer. With visions of again climbing Everest, I appealed to Mom for an early Christmas present. She would give in to my excuses and I would then have my kick ass glacier shoes making me ready for my next adventure. They would work great in powder and moderate snow. On hard packed snow they earned the reputation from Dave of being "cookie cutters" as they cut nicely thru the crust making me sink while he would float along in his old "Tube style" shoe. Fine, whatever, but I still have the kick ass heal lift and the teeth on the bottom are bad ass. I would continue to wear these shoes until this post, not really regretting my purchase, er, gift I mean, and enjoying the climbing feature which they truly did have.
Since then things have evolved. We now use ski poles, finding they worked sufficient for what we were doing. We have learned how to walk properly. Hell we do not even notice anymore really, so I guess Iím safe from being tranquilized and taken to a zoo at least for now anyhow.
We would get others involved and meet up with some friends who have done it for quite a while. With them we would learn just how dangerous snowshoeing can be, avalanches and exposure were not the only things to look for, but add to the mix that crossing a snow covered creek is a challenge and a potential disaster for sure. It was last year when crossing one of these creeks in about eight feet of snow that we would find out the true danger in that. Mind you the only indication there was a creek was the slight indentation of the snow and a hundred or so yards down the snow would be split apart openings into a crevasse with the cold water near freezing running below. Seeing this made it an adventure for me and I crossed first being the heaviest of the group, two more would follow. When Don crossed with a hearty "well itís been nice knowing you" he stepped out and the snow, like on cue for a movie, gave way. The gaping mouth of the crevasse would open to attempt to claim itsí prize. I was close, thankfully, and I dove onto my knees and grabbed hold of his jacket yanking him to safety. With his eyes wide like dinner plates he would murmur "now I know why they call you gorilla." Indeed I guess it is. I would then know just how he felt this year when the ice opened up on me. Now mind you, the snow was half the depth of the creek, but I was not looking forward to trying to climb out of snow as deep as me with my feet soaking in a creek. I tossed myself back like a walrus trying to crawl onto an ice shelf and dreamt I had tusks. No tusks, but I wallowed back up more seal-like to safety. Damn this is quite a bit of work and I would have to be more careful in the future.
Today's trip was quite a bit less eventful with merely walking and chatting up a snowmobile trail which doubles as a road for those who insist on looking at nature through the safety of a cage and glass in the summer. For us it was adventure, it was a time for bonding and swapping stories, we would build a fire and surprise each other with the Johnsonville brats we thought we would outdo each other with. With more miles on our jaws than on our feet we headed back to the trucks and to the comfort of our homes. If nothing else a good time bonding with friends was achieved, Everest would have to wait.
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Thread: OT Snowshoeing