With the January thaw we're having here in Iowa, I wonder how much snow we'll get the rest of the winter. There wasn't a lot to be found last year and now we have rain, and grassy areas in the yard that the dogs and chickens are absolutely enjoying turning into mud. "Is our winter going to be over soon?", I have been asking myself. And that got me to thinking about snowshoeing.
In the brief time that I have walked in snowshoes, three times to be exact (call me an expert, now?), some things have really stood out about the experience.
1. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that learning how to snowshoe is easy. Then I looked around in some of my old hunting and hiking books to see if I could find anyone else who would back me up. And I did. From the New Hunter's Encyclopedia, 1967 edition : " Snowshoeing is not at all difficult to learn, and can be mastered in a day or two." Then it goes on to warn us to break into them slowly, as our muscles need to get used to a new way of walking. So I'm not alone in the ease of learning point.
2. I wish I knew the numbers on how much energy a person saves while wearing snowshoes when the snow gets over a certain depth. That's something to look into, but my own personal experience tells me that the energy savings is substantial. Freaky substantial.
3. Snowshoe trails : If it hasn't snowed in some time and the snow is starting to pack hard, it may be easier to make your own trail instead of following in others' so you won't have an uneven walk over the crags and snow "clods" left by others. You don't need the unpleasant feeling that you may twist your ankle while enjoying the winter landscape around you. Winter can be hard enough already.
4. For those of the more adventurous bent, the upturned toe on snowshoes really does help going through areas that have undergrowth such as brambles and branches under the snow. It appears to me that the shoe won't snag as much as you're stepping forward.
5. Snowshoes, deep snow, and dogs may not be the most pleasant mix. When dogs tire, they are smart enough to let you break the trail and usually they are right at your heels, which doesn't work with snowshoes. Until they learn to stay farther back while you're snowshoeing, a dog can be a real pain with this method of travel, until everyone gets the message.
These are the things that have stood out most to me about snowshoeing so far, in my limited experience. The history of snowshoeing, the different styles of shoe, or where to find good trails are things beyond my scope at this point in time, but I can tell you that I am VERY happy that I can venture out in the deeper stuff come winter now, without the feeling that I just may be bringing myself to an earlier end. If you've been thinking about trying it, I HIGHLY recommend it.