me on a bridge over the creek in PJ Hoffmaster State Park
Cari, my go-to fitness guru, got me back on a back on a bike regularly this past fall. Then she encouraged me to buy a pair of hiking boots to climb dunes with when the weather turned icy. She did it again this week by urging me to try snowshoeing on a “beginner night.” Cari brought the snow shoes and attached them to my boots. The weather was 18F with a sometimes blowing breeze. We followed the unplowed road through the campground portion of the park but went off-road much of the way. We started at 6pm, just as it was getting dark. Night walking was an added bonus.
The way snow shoes work is that they are wide enough to sort of rest on top of the snow which makes it easy to walk through the tall stuff. The front part of your boot (no special boots needed, but I would recommend waterproof ones) is secured with straps at the top. The back half of your boot has a strap tight around the back, but at the same time you can lift it up and away from the snowshoe, which makes it easy to navigate. Another vital feature of snow shoes are the big metal teeth located just forward of where the tips of your boots are. These teeth dig into ice, hard-packed snow, and just generally give you the traction you need as you walk. The following illustration isn’t exactly how the ones I was wearing were set up but they give you the gist of it.
Another newbie shared that this was her first winter in Michigan. I asked where she had moved here from and she said Hilton Head, South Carolina. She was wearing good warm gear, but the poor woman had forgotten to bring gloves! I was wearing a pair of gloves inside of my big mittens, so I lent them to her. Cari also gave us heat pouch things that fit inside of our hand gear to keep them pleasantly warm. I had no trouble with my snowshoes coming off, but the other newbie must have had slippery footwear as hers didn’t stay on very well. Here is one of the times the group had to stop so Cari could try to adjust them so they wouldn’t fall off:
Most of the path was flat. We climbed over multiple fallen logs, which took slick maneuvering but was doable with care. I was happy I’d brought my cross-country ski poles as they helped with balance while getting over them. There was one challenging slope we had to go up, and I was quite anxious when I saw it. The teeth dug in as we walked up and there was no slipping back at all. I was impressed!
You might wonder if you are hardy and fit enough to try snowshoes in the middle of winter. For the hardiness, dressing in layers is essential. Have good hand and feet coverings with warm socks and waterproof shoes. Wear a windbreaker or something snow slides off of on the exterior. A hat is essential and some kind of face covering. For the fitness, if you can walk you can snowshoe. You will get an excellent, low-impact workout.
If you’re wondering where you can snowshoe, any park would be perfect. Many places have groomed snowshoe trails these days also, at least around here. One thing to be aware of is a lot of bike trails become snowmobile trails in winter time, so if you see snowmobile tracks, make sure you wear reflective clothing!
me at the creek’s edge
Finally, I wanted to share a picture that I took today while out running errands. I’ve been asked once or twice if Michigan has mountains. I finally took a picture of the only mountains in Michigan (aside from those in the Upper Peninsula):
The Mountains of Michigan