Fall of Grace
For those of you who read the blog often you know that my first attempt at snowshoeing did not go that well. It may have seemed that my failures were causing me to not try again but I am way to stubborn for that. The problem was we haven’t had snow in way too long but as soon as the snow built up enough to cushion what I thought would be a series of falls, I headed out and tried my luck yet again.
They say that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Well, you have as many chances as you like to figure out how to snowshoe. My second chance started out pretty amazing. I picked a wider trail that I knew and I was making some time. Well I thought I was making some good time until a retired couple lapped me. While I wasn’t setting speed records apparently I was staying vertical! I got into a good rhythm and even got cocky enough to shoot some video.
My cocky moments ended shortly after this. After making my way up to a ridgeline I had to try to come back down and that is when the comedy/terror line was approached.
The fall happened slowly at first. I was heading down a 22% grade and was a bit nervous about it. My right leg started to sink into some soft snow. At the same time my left leg hit a soft patch and instead of grabbing on the snowshoe turned into a snow skate. As my anchored right leg dug deeper into the snow drift my left leg extended, and extended. It was about noon but I began to see stars.
My legs continued their holiday wishbone journey as I realized that on the 22% grade it was not a far journey for my tail to hit the snow. I didn’t so much realize this before the fact, but rather when my posterior was stuck in a pile of snow. A very chilling discovery.
As I sit in the snow contemplating my current predicament, I had to wonder how one leg was stuck in the snow while the other was above my head some how. I tried to right myself with all of the grace and elegance as an elephant on roller skates on a frozen pond.
Hmmm. This might be trouble. Trying to regain balance on snow shoes is hard. Trying to do it on a downhill grade seemed impossible. I thought of Yoga, and how I wish I would have taken one of those classes. Then I remember an old coach telling me there is no “I” in quit. He mixed his metaphors but I knew what to do. I whimpered. But then, in one complicated helicopter leg maneuver, I twisted and turned. And then…yep still stuck.
I learned that kicking my feet in the style of a two year old mid-tantrum actually showed some progress. At one point I had both of my feet facing the same direction. It was a short moment but I decided to gamble. I stood. I wobbled. Then rocked and then finally I felt the engineering feat of a two pound piece metal hold my considerably heavier body above the snow.
Now all I had to do was get down the mountain. I imagined mountain goats and their gracefully leaping steps on tiny rocks. That would have been great. Instead, I awkwardly stumbled my way down. Alternating sinking in the snow and skating across it. I think sitting in the cold snow for so long froze my backside giving me a anchor like center of gravity that helped keep me upright and back to flatter and solid ground.
My second attempt at the shoes of snow was done. Another lesson learned that I will promptly forget for my next journey.
So you don’t think it was all bad, I really did enjoy this attempt at snowshoeing. I felt much more comfortable and confident when I was walking on the flatter sections. While I was constantly falling to my knees the first time, this time I only had the one awkward fall. Like any other skill the steps need to be small until you are comfortable enough to take a bigger one.
I would suggest starting on flat wide trails if you are just starting out. Also, check with a pro to see what size of snowshoe will work best for you. It is a completely different type of walking that really works your leg muscles so don’t plan on a super long trip the first time out. Finally, it helps to go with a partner who can help if you get into a pretzel like fall situation. Have fun!
More from the Fatman
If you enjoyed this post you may enjoy more of the posts on my Fatman’s Rambling page. Blogs such as “Hiking Alone not Lonely Hiking“, “Winslow, Arizona” and “Screw it, I’m Trying” as well as many others may interest you there. If you have any comments or topics you would like me to cover, feel free to email me at email@example.com. Or you can keep the conversation going by following me on any of the below social media platforms.