“Snowshoeing is boring.” How many times have I heard that before? “It is hard work.” Yes it is! That is a good thing!
Over the years, skiing has taken the place of snowshoeing. I believe snowshoeing is perhaps a lost art. Most people prefer to glide quickly and easily over the snow, rather than tromping through it. In fact, if you inquire, surprisingly you will find that most people have never actually tried snowshoeing. Not many know how it has its own rewards and appeal. There is something magical about footwear made just for the purpose of walking over snow.
So why give it a chance? Snowshoeing can be rather adventurous because you can explore off the beaten path and blaze your own trails. You can pretend that you are an early pioneer or a fur trader. The scenery will no doubt knock your wool socks off.
Snowshoeing will tickle each of your senses. Best of all, word has it that you can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour, which is a lot compared to other activities. And what is not a lot, is the cost. A good pair of snowshoes will not break the bank. They are all you will need besides warm clothes and a good pair of boots. There is also no learning curve—no lessons needed. If you can walk, you can tromp through the snow.
Snowshoeing just might change your whole attitude about winter. Trust me on this. And here in northern Minnesota, we have endless opportunities for places to try it out. If you are skeptical, maybe try borrowing a pair from a friend before making a commitment. Invite someone along. Snowshoeing can be a solitary or social activity.
On New Year’s Day I was gifted with a pair of vintage Lund snowshoes— something I have wanted for a long time. I was so excited! It is not that I had never snowshoed before, but it had been a long time. And back then, I really did not appreciate the concept.
New Year’s Day was chilly, and I was hesitant to try them out. It was just before dark and the temperature read minus 4 degrees and I knew it was still dropping quickly. As I sat there and debated if I wanted to leave the comfortable warmth of the house, I was booted out the door. “Get outside! Try them.” So I quickly bundled up and headed out after the bit of encouragement.
That weekend I was staying on the Echo Trail. Once outside, I made my way up a hill and across a ridge. I stopped and looked out over the frozen swamp below me. The scene below was enchanting as we had just gotten a foot of snow. The wilderness looked like a winter wonderland; like something out of Narnia. The tree boughs were heavy with snow. The sun was going down and the sky was lit up in hues of pink.
I realized how warm I was after making my way uphill through the deep snow. The temperature didn’t even faze me, except for the still cold air that fell upon my bare face. I felt alive and I felt toasty warm. I was glad to have not missed the moment. It was a pocket of peace. Nothing but silence. I stood for a while longer at the top of the cliff taking it all in.
I made my way slowly off the rock ridge and down to the open swamp below. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. It was the same place I heard the choir of frogs singing last spring. It was the place I heard the honk of the Canadian geese that gathered there over the summer. The scene was quite barren before me, but serene and beautiful.
There in the clearing I saw dozens of forest creature footprints. Deer, fox, and others; most likely the deer that had been coming to the birdfeeders. The forest had been quite busy since our recent snow. I continued my tramp over the snow. After some time, I decided to head back as it had begun to get dark. I felt great after the physical activity. It was exhilarating.
Once back inside and enjoying a hot drink as I cooked dinner, I reflected on how I was thankful for the experience, and I began to plan more snowshoeing adventures for the future. Perhaps I could make my way to the pictographs on Hegman Lake? Or next time, maybe I would plan a longer outing and bring lunch. Maybe a small thermos of coffee and a sandwich. There is nothing like a winter picnic to make you feel like you have oneupped the winter weather. Perhaps I could eat it while sitting on a lakeshore, or maybe at the top of a scenic overlook.
I am adding my new snowshoes to my winter arsenal. Score! My winter arsenal is the group of things that I know I will need to combat any winter blahs that may come my way. Winter prepping I call it. I am prepared for winter and actually enjoying it. Minnesota winters are just too long to hibernate! Don’t forget, paradise doesn’t have to be tropical.
What do you have planned for this winter? What is in your winter arsenal?
Jody Rae lives Eveleth, MN, but spends most of her time in the woods.