We had our first “Real” winter storm of the year last night, rain then Ice then about 6″ of snow. I alone prevented a massive blizzard, by purchasing snow shoes. You see our local weather man was predicting up to 24″ of snow with this storm on Monday’s forecast, so I immediately ordered a pair of Surplus GI snowshoes.
Why? Well I’ve just always wanted to try hiking in snowshoes. God has a serious sense of humor, because as I checked the UPS tracking every hour hoping, and praying the snowshoes would actually arrive before the storm (Midway would only say “By Monday”) the predicted storm totals began to drop. Sure enough the BBTH (Big Brown Truck o’Happiness) dropped me a brand new pair of uncle’s finest 1986 made, yet new magnesium snowshoes on Friday morning.
So we end up with crappy 6″ of snow and 10 degree temps, but joy of joys the included 50-60 mph winds gave us drifts of over a foot! So after a hearty Saturday lunch of home-made beef vegetable soup, I layered up, packed a day pack and headed to the local nature preserve. Imagine this, I was the ONLY person there! 1000 acres to myself.
I strapped on the snowshoes and sat out for a jaunt, and discovered that despite being made of magnesium and thus fairly light, snowshoes get heavy. The trails were mostly drifted full at about 12″ and walking in shallow snow with the shoes is about the same effort as just walking with boots, however my feet stayed much warmer. I can only imagine that if and when we get a couple of feet of the fluffy white stuff, it will make the work of moving through snow easier as well as the aforementioned bonus of warmer feet.
So whats my point to all of this? Instead of huddling by the fire or watching crap on tv, I went out and did something I had never done. In doing so, I not only burned some calories and got some solitude and clean, crisp air, but I learned a lot.
For instance there are areas you don’t want to walk into on snowshoes, like a thicket. I walked up to a downed pine tree to snap a picture and it took some mental and physical effort to get backed out. Stepping over deadfalls and such requires you to do so sideways and dozens of other little nuances that I would never have known unless I had tried.
The big take-away? I hope I never have to “bug-out” long distance on snowshoes with a heavy pack, its hard work. At the same time I hope to get considerable use out of this set with some winter hikes and bushcrafting trips.