Mak­ing the shift from no shoes to snow­shoes

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - OPEN COUN­TRY

ONE OF THE HARD­EST calls for any­one who en­joys win­ter is when to de­cide it’s ap­pro­pri­ate to start wear­ing snow­shoes in pub­lic. Wear them too early and you’ll look silly. Wear them too late and you’ll be floun­der­ing in deep snow.

There are many the­o­ries on de­ter­min­ing the proper time for snow­shoes. There are also tried-and-true rules such as never wear­ing them in a month that ends in une, uly or ust.

A knowl­edge­able out­doors­man once told me that I could get a good sense of when to don snow­shoes if I watched deer as they tra­versed through snow. I quickly dis­carded this ad­vice as I have never once seen a deer wear­ing snow­shoes.

I be­lieve the best thing to do is go to a place where peo­ple rou­tinely snow­shoe and then look for tracks.

Once there, you need to ex­am­ine them care­fully.

For in­stance, if you go to a place and see snow­shoe tracks cross­ing grassy patches, the odds are good that you should prob­a­bly wait for bet­ter ac­cu­mu­la­tions of snow.

If you see snow and one set of snow­shoe tracks and one set of boot tracks, it might be too early for snow­shoes. Then again, hardly any­one is around, so do what you want.

If you see one set of snow­shoe tracks and they do a quick U-turn back to the park­ing lot af­ter con­fronting sev­eral sets of boot tracks of peo­ple who skilled a tracker can de­ter­mine were belly-laugh­ing then it is def­i­nitely too early.

If the snow­shoe tracks sud­denly de­vi­ate from the main trail and pause be­hind a thick tree or out build­ing while many boot tracks pass, it is too early but the snow­shoer bought a new pair and, gosh-darn it, he’s go­ing to get some use out of them this win­ter. There­fore, if you bought a new pair, you should prob­a­bly try them out too.

One the other hand, tracks will also tell you when snow­shoes are ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary. For in­stance, if you walk up to a snow­shoe trail and see sev­eral boot track that lead to toques stick­ing out of the snow, it’s prob­a­bly time for snow­shoes.

The point here is there is no wrong time to wear snow­shoes – only highly em­bar­rass­ing times to wear them.

There might even be some times that you should have worn them ex­cept for the fact that too many oth­ers wore them first. This typ­i­cally hap­pens when you get to a pop­u­lar snow­shoe trail late and a hun­dred other snow­shoers have al­ready been there tamp­ing it down to the con­sis­tency of con­crete.

Sure, you can snow­shoe on that al­ready well­beaten trail, but you are not fool­ing any­one. Snow­shoes are not re­quired.

Have no fear though. It’s not even win­ter yet. Sooner or later you will have an op­por­tu­nity to wear snow­shoes. At that point, the snow will be deeper than your knees and the paths might be trod­den but not too packed down.

Then, you will feel that your snow­shoes are keep­ing you afloat on the snow and you might even feel su­pe­rior to some­one who is try­ing to tra­verse the trail with­out them – which has al­ways been the great­est thing about snow­shoe­ing, if you ask me.

When is that go­ing to hap­pen?

I don’t know, but I can tell you this. You won’t find out from watch­ing deer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.