Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Revenge of the Slow Shoes

"oh no, slowshoes," Scott groaned when he spied Jean and I carrying our snowshoes. "I need to be back by three," he went on, clearly doubting this would happen if the ski party contained us. We were headed for a day trip to the ski shelter, a steep climb that required skins to navigate, and one that caused a major meltdown on my part, years ago, trying to ski down. Snowshoes are my weapon of choice for this climb.

Curses! A low snow winter.
Snowshoes don't get a lot of love around here. Skiers will slog up mountains for hours with their skins, refusing to touch the things. Granted, slow, I mean snow, shoes aren't fast, but on the two mile climb in, Jean and I easily kept pace with the skiers. They slipped and slid on the Hill of Death while we marched casually up, and they cursed the sidehills while we strode along.

Of course this wasn't matched by the descent. Jean and I had to leave early in order to beat them to the car. While I am not a Strava fan for many reasons, I was intrigued by the stats that she had on her phone. Our top speed was four miles per hour! In snowshoes. (Scott's was 31 mph. But we did all leave before three pm.)

It's hard to find kindred snowshoeing spirits. One of my local buddies escapes to Hawaii for almost two months. The conditions aren't always right. But sometimes I do see the tracks of my people. The other day I was snowshoeing along and saw an unfamiliar track. "What's that?" I mused to the dog. Bigfoot? Then I realized: Snowshoes! The hiker was long gone, but I turned into the woods to follow the track, feeling a warm fuzzy at the fact that others appreciate the meditative, slow progress through quiet woods.  Basically: snowshoeing extends the hiking season. Who could be mad about that?

The tracks of my people!
Scott appeared at the trucks, eyeing our snowshoes. "This was probably great conditions for that, wasn't it?" he asked. We agreed. "You'll come to the dark side someday," I said.

"Never!"

Oh well. Some people aren't going to be snowshoe converts. They'll keep dissing our slow shoes and be convinced they have chosen the best method of transport. I know differently.

18 comments:

  1. I would love to have to make the choice!
    Definitely know why you opt for slowshoes!

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    1. Skiing is fun, but I am such a fraidycat on really steep stuff. Mostly, everything here is steep stuff.

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    2. I'm with you there ... I like XC skiing, but even on the slightest downhill, I freeze up!

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  2. I was snowshoeing recently with a friend and he said he'd like to do some snow camping along the closed Lassen park road as he completed the 30 mile journey. I said that'd be fun. Let's do it. Then I found out you can ski in a day. WOW! I don't think I could snowshoe 10 miles a day carrying a pack. Covering that much terrain made me a little excited about skiing but like you I prefer my slowshoes.

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    1. I've snowshoed many miles with a backpack in deep snow. I can't say it is all that enjoyable, mostly because of the weight. Skiing 30 miles in a day? Wow. I don't know if I could do that. It depends on how deep the snow was. Breaking trail is as slow as snowshoeing.

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  3. I LOVE snowshoeing! I love the quiet and the workout, combined with the fact I'm unlikely to fall and wrench a knee. I've never much cared for speed anyway, and I don't like crowds, and I love to hike, so winter hiking in snowshoes...what's not to love?
    R is coming down for the long weekend and asked if he should bring his snowshoes. I told him to bring them along just in case, but right now there is so little snow that I'm not sure how far we would have to go to find snowshoeable terrain (frankly I wish I had my kayak!). I haven't been up to Lassen Volcanic NP yet though, and maybe if we hike and carry our snowshoes we can get to enough snow to use them.

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    1. It does sound like from what Jan posted above that there is snow in the park. Hope you get to find some!

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    2. Sadly we wore microspikes to the top of Brokeoff Mountain. Crazy in February!

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  4. Ha ha! I'm such a terrible skier that I can only nod enthusiastically at posts like this. I also used to occasionally snowshoe with skier friends in Juneau, and they're really not as "slow" as people assume. We usually traveled backcountry trails with rolling hills, so our average paces more or less matched (I did have to run the descents.) Sometimes I carried my snowboard on mountain trips, but even by my late 20s, I was already falling far out of love with gravity sports. At this point, I love snowshoes *because* they're so slow.

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    1. Gravity sports! Good name. Jerry tells me to enjoy the speed whenever we approach a big hill but...I don't enjoy the speed. I'm surprised our relationship lasted after the disaster that was me trying to ski down from that hut I mention in this post.

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  5. Well....you know me. I'll almost always chose skis over snowshoes. :) But I get the "fear factor" of skiing and totally understand why some folks would rather take it slow and easy.

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    1. I sometimes think, in fact I almost always think that snowshoeing is slow, but not easy at all. Once you skin up, which is hard admittedly, you then have a glide back down. Not so with snowshoes!

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    2. Sorry - poor choice of words. What I should have said (and really meant) was "slow and steady" or "slow and secure." I've snowshoed before and agree that it's not easy!

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    3. That's what I thought you meant but wasn't sure! I took skis today and basically was going for a walk in them because it was so deep. Now that was hard.

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  6. Hi Mary, snowshoeing is a part of my lifestyle. I do enjoy traveling that way. I haven't done any in a long while but, will change that soon enough. Skis are not my thing but, I do know how to snowboard. That's right 70 years old and I board, lol.

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    1. John, that's awesome! I'm impressed.

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  7. I love snowshoeing! I like being the first one out there the next morning right after a new snowfall. It is slow going and affords that much more time to "remember to breathe"! I like to pick up the pace and the fun on the way down along the gentle slopes running in the deep untouched snow, then laugh when my friends do face plants! In wide open meadows, we have races with our snowshoes on and try and kick up as much snow as possible. Yup! I love snowshoeing!

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    1. That sounds fun and you are lucky to have a snowshoe gang!

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