Posts Tagged ‘snowshoeing’

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.

2-8-15 Mt Tom Snowshoeing

Carl’s dog Tucker was missing. We were heading back on a trail midway down the mountain. Carl had just discovered that his dog took off and took off through the woods following Tucker’s tracks.

Mike 10, Carl and I  (and Scout and Tucker) started by crossing route 141 from the Mt. Joe’s Coffee shack. We had a touch climb snowshoeing up Mt. Tom. I had wished I brought my poles. Mike and Carl were doing better than I was. Scout was following Tucker along the trail. Once in a while I had to yell to him to come back. Sometimes I had to yell more than once. Closer to the top he disappeared for a bit. I figured I knew where he would be but I would hate to be wrong.

Last time Mike 10 did this hike, it was in the other direction. We ended up going down the steep hill from the top. That bothered his knees and he was unsure that he wanted to do that again. He was finding this route much better.

At the top we followed the edge of the mountain. It was a cloudy day, the snow was heavy and the snowshoes were absolutely necessary. The dogs stayed close following the existing tracks.

Until we descended to the B17 memorial. Tucker started sprinting down the access road with Scout following obediently behind. I had to run down the road yelling like a madman…”Scout, come, come…” I must have made a nice impression with Mike. So much for a peaceful walk.

Carl was mostly unaware at first but was soon close behind me. He figured that Tucker must have gotten the scent of deer and was following his nose. Our yelling did the trick though and the dogs came back, chugging back up the road almost as fast as they did running away.

Following the trail, Scout was in front of us on a “verbal” leash. I made sure he stayed well in sight. Tucker stayed behind Carl…until he wasn’t.

Mike and I were not shuffling off trail with Carl. We went forward slowly thinking that he could have circled around us and could be up the trail. More than once with my old dog, I would think he was gone and he would just show up looking at me with a “what’s the problem” look.

We kept in contact with Carl by phone. He called back saying he found him. Found him 20 yards below him on a steep, icy hill. Tucker had gone looking for those deer he smelled. “Its very steep but I’ll try to get him to come to me.” Five minutes later Carl was heading back towards us with his dog. He would meet us back at the cars.

We got out of the woods just before Carl. Carl offered to buy us coffee for our troubles. They were his troubles but I was accepting anyway. Mt Joes to Go…damn good coffee.