Cold February Snowshoeing

Posted: February 25, 2015 in Uncategorized
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2-15-15 Snowshoeing

My wife bought me snowshoes maybe five years ago. The first few years, I didn’t try them once. The snow just wasn’t that thick. The next few years, I’d try them but couldn’t keep them on my feet and was thinking maybe this was a bad idea. After all, snowshoeing is just walking in the woods. I’d rather be cross country skiing anyhow. Then last year it all changed with our hikes up Mt. Tom.

It was Sunday, February 15. The snow was too thick for cross country skiing. Not unless you already had tracks to ski on. I instead decided to join Carl for some snowshoeing in his backyard…well out his backyard into the woods. We brought our dogs with us Tucker and Scout. They were more cooperative today being more or less stuck walking in our tracks.

Carl’s house is located near Rising Corner in Agawam near the Southwick and Connecticut borders. We accessed the woods and the M&M trail that cuts behind his house. Getting there meant crossing a farmer’s field first. With the strong wind, that was a pretty brave fete.

We traversed along the edge of the field then plunged headlong into the center towards a lone tree. As we approached the tree I saw the wind kicking up and warned Carl, “A snow devil!” Instead of a “dust” devil, a frigid version had kicked up in front of us. It swirled right towards us and I stopped and put my head down into it closing my eyes.

I was prepared for the cold wearing multiple layers and my ski gear. Carl thought I could overheat but I knew unzipping for five minutes would take care of that today.

Entering the woods, the wind chill was gone and I was very comfortable. We did a few loops around the hills with the dogs. I was enjoying them sticking by us. I only wished that Scout would try to not step on the back of our snowshoes. We worked up a good effort before doubling back to where we entered the woods. Ryan was joining us on his second ever snowshoe endeavor.

The three of us plowed up the hill to meet up with the M&M trail. Carl led the effort through the thick snow leaving Ryan and I in the “dust.” Ryan was impressed with the area for both biking and snowshoeing. Carl was pointing out the rolling terrain around us and talking of the potential of some manmade trails. Tucker was trying to chase the scent of a deer again. We interrupted our planned route to veer off course and drag him back.

Eventually we followed the M&M trail down to the bog bridge that crosses the beaver pond. The bog bridge is a series of planks and pallets that form a rudimentary bridge across the swampy pond. It had fallen into disrepair until recently.

At the moment though that was all irrelevant. The pond was all ice with the only indication of what was there being the beaver home standing boldly on the winter landscape.

We soon decided to fall back into the protection of the trees.

Carl turned along the pond following an old trail I used to take. Then he turned uphill.

I didn’t think any hill around here could compete with the climb up Mt. Tom. Boy was I wrong. We started trudging up through the hip deep snow. The muscles around my hips felt like they wanted to give away under the strain. It was wonderful! Carl told me “those are the same muscles you use to climb hills on your bike.”

I planted my poles and pulled myself up with both arms. Rotating each arm wouldn’t be enough. Each step was a test to see if the shoes would hold and not slip backwards. My breath increased quickly and I thought “this is the kind of snowshoeing I have been hoping for all along.” What a great workout.

While we are doing this, Tucker is taking another run at that deer. He stayed down and ran into another farmer’s field crossing it hot on its scent. I thought he would be long gone, before he turned back as abruptly as he’d left.

I had to make a beeline towards getting back. We had started our Sunday workout much later than I usually would. It was too cold to make it an early start. I knew though that I would want a return trip here. It was the best snowshoe workout I had gotten yet. I was finally seeing what the fuss was all about with these darn shoes.

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