Sunday, February 12, 2012


Snowshoeing has been one of those things I have never understood why it is fun, I mean it really is quit a bit of work. Not exactly sure why  I got into it even, all I know is I was tired of snowmachines as odd a 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 and a few years ago sold our old machines which dad had bought new in the early eighties.
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. So for christmas one year my Sis and her hubby bought me a pair, I didnt get to do much with em, trudged 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 would start taking them with me out hunting, finally realizing that wading thru knee deep snow was damned near insanity. So 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 going on them they were 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 guess, wonder if someone also mistook me for Sasquatch wearing a jacket the first couple times, come to think of it I do not shave much in the winter..........
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 and the best part was it was getting dark as we headed back to the truck. With the shadows looming and the trolls and brigands hiding in them Daves mind raced wondering when we would be waylaid and the coyotes which howled in the shadows would chew on his tired muscles no longer able to run. Now me 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 thru 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. Dave I think had a different view of it all, in his mind 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 and prey would come.
fast forward a few more excursions and we would end up in six foot of powder, still inexperienced we did not know we needed  poles at this time and falling down became a huge challenge to get up. We would under my expert guidance end up in a nice little potential avalanche bowl. Not sure my soothing words to Dave of "hey its cool just dont 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 Im 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 camel backs 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 the trooper he is. Until 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 IM sure you can sympathise 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 of 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 cause 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.
I would find at that time being fed up with my current shoes that I would look into more, I found at that time that there was as 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 quit 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 should would be the entire frame were made with pointed teeth on them, surely this was the answer, with visions of again climbing Everest I appealed to mom since I was broke at that time for a 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. And 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 are doing, we have learned how to walk properly, hell we do not even notice anymore really so I guess IM 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 quit a while, and with them we would learn just how dangerous it can be, avalanches not being hte only thing to look for and no longer was exposure, but now in the mix we would learn 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 foot of snow that we would find out, I would go across first, now 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 opening into a crevasse with the cold near water on the border of of 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 with Don crossing and a hearty "well its been nice knowing you" he stepped out and the snow like on cue for a movie would give way and the gaping mouth of the crevasse would open to attempt to claim its 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 this year find out his feeling as I was crossing to have one open up on me, now mind you the snow was half the depth 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 quit a bit of work and I would have to be more careful in the future. Today's trip was quit 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 thru 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 broughts 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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