I've wanted to try snow shoes ever since I was a kid but it's just one of those things I never got around to. Until now! With all the snow we just received and more on the way I decided to take a gamble and bought this pair of US government issue surplus snowshoes from The Sportsman's Guide. The shoes and bindings have been in long term storage for 30 years but magnesium, nylon and the steel cable webbing has held up well and is perfectly serviceable.
The shoes were delivered yesterday while I was at work so after dinner I figured out the bindings and took a quick test walk around the back yard. While these snowshoes are the traditional shape they are very lightweight and don't feel any different than my cross country skis maybe even a bit lighter.
Right away I noticed how easy it was to use the snowshoes. Simply walk one foot in front of the other. I cruised around the yard for a minute and then put them away eager to go out for my first real trial Friday after work. The next day I arrived at the west end of Clear Fork Reservoir at a small trail network that I have yet to explore and thought this would be the perfect place to try out the new shoes.
The sun was quickly setting by the time I got into the woods but I did get one good picture. Snow shoe tracks are distinctly different and are just visible coming up the path. The trail system leads eastward towards the reservoir and by the time I reached the shoreline darkness had fallen. For the most part I kept to the clear paths but I did venture off trail a few times and found that the stability offered by the big flat platforms made walking through the forest even in the dark a piece of cake. I climbed a couple small banks and found that turning sideways and stepping up the hill with a similar technique that I would use while cross country skiing got me safely up the grade.
Here I crossed a small creek by balancing on a few small logs careful to keep the shoes out of the water. Just like skis if they get wet the snow will freeze and clump up packing on the weight and so it is imperative to keep them dry. The boots I'm wearing are La Crosse pac boots that are also G.I. issue except they were issued to me over 20 years ago while I served in the U.S. Air Force. They work perfect with the shoes.
I love these snow shoes and no wonder they've been around for 4000 years. I've never moved so effortlessly through the winter woods before. Tonight I kept my trip short at about an hour because I didn't want to overtax my snowshoe muscles. I'm headed to Mohican tomorrow for some more excellent winter adventure.