Just over a year ago, I was given a pair of snowshoes as a Christmas present. This was especially cruel because a week afterwards, I boarded a plane to the Arabian Desert, where snow wouldn't happen.

My trail conditioning routine this past fall included a weekly roundtrip from my house to the top of the Cathedral of Learning with a 25 lb. sandbag in my pack. After a month of travels and getting fat on holiday food, I got back to training today. At the same time, I decided it would be a great day to break in the snowshoes. I have never been snowshoeing before. Perhaps I could have picked a day when I wasn't also pack-training.

I learned how to spot snow deep enough to make the snowshoeing worthwhile. I learned how to let my feet flex freely in the bindings while the webbing floated on top of gently packed powder. I learned to not stare at my feet, that getting all my feedback from feel alone would let me glide across the snowdrifts better than if I worried about where I was placing my boots.

There's an extra layer of feet beyond my feet, like I'm running on top of a net that follows me everywhere. I'd sink into the snow if I thought about the motion too much, like the cartoon character who plummets to the ground as soon as he realizes he's been running in midair off the side of a cliff. When I took a break from the pack weight and paced in circles around the golf course, it was like tiptoeing through clouds.

I never made it to the Cathedral. That building is there every weekend, but there is not always snow.

On the way home, a car I passed stopped so its driver could ask me if there was enough snow to go snowshoeing. My brand new snowshoes were strapped to my pack while I trudged back through half-shovelled sidewalks, but we were within sight of the golf course and snow dusted my pants up to the thigh. I gave him a quick rundown of the snow conditions, and as he drove away, I wondered why he didn't just go and see for himself.

26 January 2014 18:59

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