The Woolwich Observer

It’s easy to get yourself into a bind

- STEVE GALEA Not-So-Great Outdoorsma­n

Arecent snowshoe excursion made me realize that while I have seen and even written many articles about snowshoein­g, I can’t recall writing or even perusing one about the harnesses we use to attach ourselves to our snowshoes. In fact, when I was doing online research to confirm that statement, I discovered that if you use keywords such as “leather straps” and “using rubber harnesses” or “the best bindings” you end up in some strange corners of the internet that have nothing at all to do with snowshoein­g.

And this can take up a lot of your day.

Yet, the harness is the most important part of the snowshoein­g experience. Mostly because it makes sure that you don’t have to wade through chest deep snow to get back to where you left your snowshoes. Good snowshoe harnesses are secure, easy to strap to your boots and comfortabl­e.

And mine are that too, but last Friday I discovered that there is more to it than this. You see, that’s when I also discovered the importance of the felt liner inside of my winter boots. I realized this after mine had suddenly been worn too thin at the back, precisely where my snowshoe harness crossed and sawed at my heel. This is not good.

It would have been fine had the problem revealed itself at the start. But it didn’t. Instead, it made itself known when we were at the furthest point of the loop on which we were snowshoein­g. So, by the time we made it back to our starting point I had painful blisters on each heel.

This could have been avoided had I just stopped and found something to place between the strap and my heels to stop the chaffing. My mitts would have done the job nicely.

But I did not do that because when you are in a group of snowshoers who are snowshoein­g for no reason other than a love of snowshoein­g, you are also in a group of smug fitness enthusiast­s. That means when you suddenly stop snowshoein­g to “adjust your straps” no one believes that you actually need to do that. Oh sure, they say they do. But what they are actually thinking is, “Man, the old guy is so out of shape, he’s using the, ‘I have to adjust my snowshoes’ excuse just so he can catch his breath.”

It was even worse for me on that day though. I was the youngest one in the group.

So, I adjusted my snowshoes and soldiered on, wincing with each painful step until we had covered the mile of so back to the car. But I was also able to hold my head high because I did not once fall behind. Honestly, I have never been so happy to take off a pair of snowshoes.

I won’t lie. I was also proud that I had kept up despite this trauma. Remember, it was a heel injury that killed Achilles. And he was much younger than me.

Sadly, however, after I took my snowshoes off, I was limping and taking tiny steps because the back of my boot rubbed my blisters raw with every footfall. And that’s when I heard one of them say, “Will you look at how he’s walking. That poor guy is really out of shape.”

Which, ironically, rubbed me the wrong way too.

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