“Off we went, after twenty minutes of confusion with waxes and gear and a sack of oranges. We caught a hiking trail near the house and worked our way gently up into National Forest. A hundred yards deep in the snow-filled woods, and my God, MAGIC, sharp blues and whites, transmuted shapes, burdened bush, the woods unified by this single, consistent, surreal texture: snow. Sunlight shattered, crazed, refracted into jangling spikes of light. All the visual cliches, Japanese prints and dreamscapes. We would stop to look and breathe for a moment, and twenty yards away an overloaded limb would choose that instant to dump. No wind, no bird flight, not another additional, scale-tipping flake of snow: just this sudden, silent shower.”
-- John Jerome, Truck (Houghton-Mifflin, 1977)
* * * * *
Yes, our first winter snowstorm blew into town in a BIG way on Saturday – much bigger than expected. Until now we’ve been hiking on bare ground, but no longer!
For the area where I live, about 35 miles northwest of Manhattan, the forecast as late as Friday was for only 2-8 inches total, and non-blizzard conditions. Wrong!
Some of the mountain areas where we hike received at least 15-18 inches, which is way more than enough for us to be able to do snowshoe hikes this coming weekend.
Just another of the many reminders we get each year of the fallibility of weather forecasting, which does help keep life extra interesting throughout the seasons.
We weren’t able to go anywhere last weekend, since attempting to drive in a snowstorm is foolish indeed, and parks often stay closed until they can be plowed.
It was actually the first time in 12 months when I’ve had to cancel both trips for weather-related reasons -- but this does occasionally happen in winter, of course.
I hope you were able to enjoy the beauty of the super-abundant new snow (assuming it fell where you live), and maybe even get out on snowshoes in a local park, or at least take a snow walk.
As late as Friday I was saying that the snow would probably melt quickly, based on a forecast at that time for a warm week ahead (with daily temps in the 40s).
Another faulty forecast – the predictions are now for mountain highs in the 30s, a different story. There should still be LOTS of snow left on the trails next weekend.
The moderate hike that had been scheduled for next Saturday will now be a moderate snowshoe hike, and on Sunday we’ll be doing an easy snowshoe hike.
Whether or not you’re already signed up for this coming weekend’s hikes, get in touch if you’d like to join us for snowshoeing on either Saturday or Sunday.
And if you don’t already own snowshoes, I’d urge you to get a pair right NOW, TODAY! There’s often a run on snowshoes after a big snowstorm, and stock could already be running low at some stores, especially on lower-priced models.
If you’re short of time or stores are selling out, it’s safe to buy snowshoes online – just be sure to get them from a reliable company like REI, Campmor, or EMS.
Any product those companies sell should be of good quality, so don’t worry about the differences between models. The least expensive ones (starting around $100) should do the job.
And if you’re ordering them online and want to join us next weekend, make sure to get overnight or 2-day delivery to be on the safe side.
[You could also check to see if your local REI store has any snowshoe rentals left for next weekend – don’t count on it, but there’s no harm in calling them].
Remember, you don’t have to try on snowshoes, they’ll attach to any size hiking boot – you just need to get a pair suitable for your body weight (a suggested body-weight range is usually listed for each model).
A final reminder to those of you who have never been on snowshoes – there’s NOTHING to learn, it’s just like hiking with huge “shoes” attached to your boots. If you have questions about snowshoes and/or could use some advice, get in touch.
For visuals, if you’re not familiar with snowshoeing (or want to be reminded of how much fun it is), be sure to watch the snowshoeing slideshow on this site.
By the way, I snowshoed for an hour yesterday for the first time since last winter – and not only loved it, but the woods were spectacularly gorgeous, as you might guess.
And… here is the first word of the first 2 messages I received yesterday in response to an e-mail announcing (to people who had reserved earlier) that we’d be snowshoeing next weekend – these are exact quotes, by the way: “Yeahhhhh!!!!!!!!!” and “Yay!!!!”.
There’s no telling how much good snowshoeing we’ll have this winter, so now’s the time to act. If you haven’t reserved for this weekend yet, why not today?!
-- Charlie Cook