Saturday, January 16, 2010

Strap Something To Your Feet - Part 1

Hiking in the winter is just like hiking in the spring, summer or fall - except for the ice and snow. To avoid the hazards of winter conditions, people have invented a variety of devices to strap to one’s feet: bits of metal, old tennis rackets and waxed sticks (aka crampons, snowshoes and cross country skis). The application of these devices depends largely on the conditions. If the leftovers of yesterday’s precipitation is terribly deep, snowshoes are the gadget of choice. If it’s an icy mess, crampons are likely in order. On the other hand if you’ve got a foot of perfect powder, pull out the skis.

Today I strapped snowshoes to my feet. This was completely unnecessary. The trail was so well packed we could have hiked in sneakers. This bothered me a great deal at first.

What’s the point of going down a marked snowshoe trail that a thousand other people have already gone down? If you aren’t breaking your own trail you don’t really need them do you? Arg. These fandangled pieces of shat are flipping snow up my back. Why aren’t I skiing? These nasty contraptions are noisy. Each step sounds like a giant crunching the bones of little children. Slog, slog, slog. I can’t believe we came all this way to a snowshoeing trail that renders the snowshoes unnecessary.

One can’t think such lovely thoughts for too long before sharing them with the world. In response my accomplice voiced his opinion that snowshoes are a superior mode of winter sport for those, like himself, who lack the coordination to stay upright on skis.

Perhaps it was getting the words out of my head and into the air. Maybe it was the blood finally moving fast enough to keep my fingers warm. Whatever the cause, my mind stilled a bit and the winter landscape stopped looking so bleak. Soon the crinch-crunch of our “shoes” beat a cheery rhythm in the snow.

Oops, I mistook my battle with inertia for a dislike of snowshoeing. Inertia is a beast, a talking beast that borrowed my voice, but once I was thoroughly in motion the beast just dissipated.

By the time we got back to the ski center the blue-gray sky in contrast with the popping green of the pine needles and the crisp white bark of the birch had me completely engrossed. But my swish-and-glide envy has not abated, not in the least. Tomorrow I’m strapping on sticks.


  1. I have a pair of Yaktrax ( and I love them. They are great for hard packed trails or in light snow. Many times I have gone out with snowshoes only to take them off and carry them for half the hike...

  2. I only just discovered cross country skiing. I hope you post about it. We went every day this weekend and last weekend. I love it.

  3. Jim,
    Now I want Yaktrax too!

    Shhhh, don't tell anyone, but I will definitely be posting about cross-country skiing.

    Thanks to you both for the comments!

  4. Annie- Funny stuff! I am glad the Gazette found your blog.