If you’ve never snowshoed, you ought to try it. In the old days when I bought my first pair of snowshoes all that they had were the old wood frame ones which had rawhide webbing.
I still think that they’re the coolest.
In the old days the trappers and Indians made them out of branches and used rawhide strips to make the webbing.
Out on open prairies and grasslands they used longer, narrower shoes. In brush and mountains everyone uses wider, shorter ones nicknamed Bear Claws.
But let’s back up to the beginning. Why would someone use snowshoes? Because in deep snow you’ll sink up to your waist and get buried.
It is impossible to walk. And even in shallower snow it is a major pain if it is just slightly crusted over.
You take a step and right when you’re putting weight on that foot your break through the crust and slam down into the snow 1-foot. Snow shoes are the only way to go in snow other than if you’re a cross country skier.
The bindings on snowshoes are different than used on downhill skiing. When downhill skiing your foot is tied in firm to the ski. When snowshoeing your toe is in constant contact with the shoe but with every step your heel rises up.
The bindings resemble a thick piece of rubber that your toe slips into. Of course, there are varying types of bindings but the original ones 40 years ago were all like this.
A few years ago…. I don’t remember maybe 20 or 30 years ago you started seeing aluminum framed snowshoes hit the market.
They’re light weight and relatively cheap. I still like the old wood/rawhide snowshoes the best but mine finally rotted out.
It was cheaper to buy a pair of aluminum ones than to repair my old ones. So that’s what Katy and I use now.
Where should you
You don’t want to just randomly pick a mountain to hike up.
You’ll want to pick a trail or old logging road to hike on. Think back to where you elk hunted last Fall.
Where were some good logging roads for hiking? You’ll want to pick an old logging road or trail. Or you can hike across a meadow.
Or maybe even use them if you’re going ice fishing and the snow is deep on the ice.
I’ve seen a couple of backcountry Yurts advertised as fun to hike to and spend the night in.
I’ve never done that. When Katy & I go snowshoeing we just go up in the mountains and hit a trail.
It’s a fun excuse to get up in the mountains and get a little exercise. We don’t have a big agenda. We’re just going hiking.
To have a carrot at the end of the hike I like to throw a coffee pot in my backpack. After a couple of hours of hiking we’ll build a fire and heat up a pot of hot water to make hot chocolate.
You’ll want to throw a jug of water in your pack. Sure, you can melt snow but remember, 10 inches of snow melts down to 1-inch of water.
By the time it heats and sizzles you don’t have much water left so you’ll use a lot of snow. But yes, I use snow.
I’ll put water in the pot and supplement it with snow so I don’t have to pack as much water.
So, with the above said, heat up a pot of water and pour everyone a cup of hot water. Pull out the packs of hot chocolate and everyone is ready for a treat.
It’s a big treat for everyone to warm up around the fire with a cup of hot chocolate.
A lot of the newer shoes are not quite wide enough so with some of them you’ll sink down in the snow if it is too powdery, soft and deep. I haven’t researched all of the makers so I can’t recommend which is the best shoes to buy.
So, in closing, don’t set around the house and get fat and lazy. Grab a pair of snowshoes and hit the trails.
Tom Claycomb is a hunting enthusiast and writes a bi-monthly column for Winnemucca Publishing.