This weekend found John and I back in my hometown to catch up with some of my oldest friends and to visit my folks. I was lucky growing up in the fact that as long as I came home by the dinnertime bell (yes, a literal wooden handled brass bell most likely made right in town that my Mum (grandmother) used to ring for our return) than I could pretty much roam wherever I liked. Growing up in a small rural town meant lots of woods, no public transportation (so no escape until you could drive) and the need for an active imagination. As barefoot tomboy I spent 90% of my existence outside making extensive forts, whittling bows and arrows,swimming or roping my sister into make believe games where we became escaped circus animals or settlers traveling the Oregon trail. Winter didn't deter our energies and we could be found making snow tunnels, ice skating on the lake across the street or sledding down the dreaded Horse Barn Hill.
Snow shoeing mostly came into play when going up to our cabin. My parents, a few family members and some hippie friends got together in the late 1970's to build a traditional log cabin. Nestled into the Green Mountains with no electricity or running water, it is literally off the grid. To get there on foot you have to hike in on a rutted dirt logging road for about a mile and then either canoe or hike around the pond for another 1.25 miles. This doesn't sound like a great feat but the roads are in pitiful shape and you sometimes have to bushwhack through waist high overgrowth halfway in. Since stores are miles away hiking in also means hauling all the food you'll need plus whatever needs to be restocked ( my favorite is the full 30 lb propane tank). The first time I snow shoed was this same route but in winter. We only had the traditional tennis racket style snow shoes and the snow itself was almost up to my knees. Weighted down with a heavy pack, looking like a stuffed sausage with all my winter layers my family and I hiked in on our snowshoes arriving to the cabin in the dark. I don't think I had ever been that tired or cold in my life but I also will never forget that feeling of satisfaction.
Snow shoeing this weekend however was simply for pleasure - to experience the snowfall in a untouched place.I realize over and over again how lucky I am to have both a partner and parents who are always up for anything (in fact this weekend my folks initiated the trek).My parents have since invested in the more contemporary shoes but for this excursion John and I opted for the challenge of the vintage.Having tried both styles and I highly recommend the comparison.
As you can imagine the vintage snowshoes do feel like tennis rackets strapped to your feet. They require walking with somewhat of a duck waddle and you often find yourself getting tripped up if you walk with your feet too close together or try to turn around. However they stay up on top of the snow better, distribute the weight of the pack easily and let's face it make you look like an old school Hudson Bay trapper. Newer shoes by comparison are easily half the size and look like small foot trampolines. They are light and give you easy mobility both in turning around and lifting your foot ( your foot actually lifts at the heel unlike the classic style where your foot is strapped in place). The only downside to the more contemporary shoe is while they do make walking in the snow easier they sink down into the snow rather than rest on top which can prove a challenge in deeper drifts.
Overall nothing is more magical than being in a pine grove with drifts of snow resting amongst the dark green branches and a light dusting coming down all around you. We had chosen a place where the only tracks that could be seen were those of the ones my parents made the day before and the deer that had come through looking for bark. The only sound that could be heard was the rushing water from the brook and occasionally our voices. While Bjorn ( my parent's Keeshond) bounded around like a jackrabbit eating snow we explored what had been the damn of a old mill. Following the river we watched as the water rushed and swirled breaking through and reshaping the ice. Mountain laurel's ruddy and gnarled branches made jungles on the banks and brought me back to my fort making days. By the time we had gotten back to the car we all were thoroughly exhausted but satisfied in a way only fresh air and excursion can bring. We ended our evening with Blackberry Ginger "Snowgaritas" as a celebration of our trek.
Blackberry Ginger "Snowgaritas"
Sky Valley Ginger Brew
Skinny Girl Margarita Mix
Fill your glass with fresh snow packed to the brim. Fill glass halfway with Skinny Girl Margarita Mix. Add splash of Sky Valley Ginger Beer to taste. Garnish with fresh blackberries and Geranium. If you wish to taste more of the blackberry and geranium flavors add them to your glass as your first and use a muddler to infuse the flavors.
Treks of Your Own
If you are interested in purchasing snow shoes for your future treks the following links will take you to some great sites: