Saturday, January 09, 2010

making bigfoot tracks

A late Christmas present arrived yesterday. A long time ago, The Hermit returned something to a sporting goods store and got an in-store merchandise credit, which in a moment of guilt, weakness, or whatever, he gave to me. From time to time I had thought of what I might spend it on, but I never made up my mind and forgot about the whole thing for a while.

Until last week, when we saw some snowshoe tracks when we were driving around. That made me think...I sure would like some snowshoes...oh yeah...the merchandise credit! I quickly went online and found a reasonably priced pair of recreational snowshoes. Notice the "made in the USA" label; these were made by Redfeather in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

I took them for a test drive today, through some tamarack woods behind the house, along the creek for a while, then across the sedge and alder swamp to some aspen woods. I found out quickly that snowshoeing is not just a walk in the woods. You have to lift your legs more than with regular walking, and even with snowshoes I was still sinking in about six inches with each step. At around 170 I am probably close to the upper recommended weight for this model, so that didn't help. But then again if I do this whenever I can it will help me to lose that extra 30 pounds.

I saw lots of signs of wildlife: rabbit highways are everywhere, and once I got into the aspen woods I saw lots of deer tracks and even deer beds like this one:

As the deer's body heat makes a depression in the snow, the snow helps to insulate the deer and keep it warm. I saw at least a dozen of these beds in the woods. One of them was right next to this:

This is a deer stand we built about 15 years ago. I have hunted from it once or twice, but not for a long time.

It was tough going, even with snowshoes, across the swamp where sedges hold a layer of snow above the ground. The actual snow depth is a foot or less, but I was breaking through two feet or more of snow crusted sedges. But it is even more difficult for the deer, who don't have snowshoe feet.

My wildlife highlight for the day was seeing a snowshoe hare, white as the snow! Of course it was way too quick for me to get the camera out of my pocket. But the real thrill was just being outside in the middle of winter. From time to time I would stop, breathing in the cold air and the silence. I felt alive, not hibernating. The swamp was a challenge to get across, but the big thing was, I was outside.

Here's a view of my house you won't often see.


Floridacracker said...

Beautiful snow scenes! It sounds like an invigorating tromp! Your sky is bluer than our was today.

Jayne said...

Those are cool Deb! I can imagine it does take some effort to walk in them. A good workout! :c) It does make you feel so alive to be out breathing that cool air, doesn't it?

Pablo said...

Good work getting out and about, afoot even. If ever there was a person who could wax poetic about snowshoes, it would be you.

Nice view of the house too.

RuthieJ said...

Wow Deb, those snowshoes are really small! They must be really light on your feet too.
You saw lots of neat things in the woods, thanks for sharing it with us.

Deb said...

FC- Invigorating it was. More work than running. And I enjoyed the blue sky.

Jayne- I felt so alive out there. So much better than walking on an indoor track.

Pablo- When I took that picture I was thinking less about waxing poetic than "I wish I had brought my cell phone. I could call the kids, maybe they would answer, and maybe they would see me flailing wildly in the snow in the swamp!"

RuthieJ- I'm starting to think maybe I need bigger snowshoes, at least until I lose some weight. But it's fun.

Molly said...

Oh, wonderful! Our friends are going to lend us their snowshoes so we can see if it's something worth investing in. We live in Red Wing, so there are plenty of places for us to hoof around. Eventually we'll even bring the dogs with us, but rumor has it, they like to get tangled up sometimes.

eric said...

SWEET! Good for you, Deb. Being somewhat of a hermit myself, it was likely a moment of guilt AND weakness.


Deb said...

Molly- When I get really brave I'll bring my husky for a walk. I've been wanting to try skijoring with him but I might want to consult with someone who actually has experience!

Eric- Guilt, weakness, I don't care. Reed's delivered very promptly! :)

Gina said...

Glad you got out and enjoyed the snowshoes! I have some similar ones, but find they are too small for real "backcountry" walking. For that, you need the big 'ol wooden ones... bigger shoe means easier floating on the surface, not so much work.