“Out of the bosom of the Air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.”
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
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“Are we going to get much snow this winter?” Your guess is as good as mine. No one can accurately predict such things, although you’ll hear claims to the contrary.
Some winters we get a few inches of snow every now and then, and occasionally a big snowstorm, but often it warms up afterwards and the snow doesn’t last long.
When that’s the case during the winter months, and there’s either no snow or just a few inches on the ground, we hike every Saturday and Sunday as scheduled.
But when there’s major snow in the mountains for part or most of the winter, which does happen some years, we’ll be out snowshoeing.
We did hike in limited snow this past weekend -- an inch or so of beautiful snow fell during Saturday’s hike, and on Sunday we hiked in 1-2 inches of new snow (yes, NYC and some other areas received a lot more than the mountain areas where we hike). We need considerably more snow in order to do snowshoeing -- preferably a foot or more.
Year before last there was no “big snow” till the start of February, but then we were able to go snowshoeing 6 weekends in a row, a total of 11 snowshoe hikes!
Snowshoes have been in existence for at least several thousand years. They distribute our body weight over a wider area so we don’t sink far into the snow.
There’s no better way to get around on foot in deeper snow, or to enjoy the glittering splendor of the winter woods when the landscape is snow-covered.
Modern snowshoes are lighter than ever and attach easily to your hiking boots via straps or buckles. There’s nothing to learn -- it’s just like walking in giant shoes.
If you haven’t worn them before, there’s absolutely no reason to feel intimidated. When we get enough snow, many of our hikes will be changed to snowshoe hikes (which you’ll read about in Monday Updates or special e-mails, assuming you're on our e-mail list). If you’re already signed up for a hike, you may either go snowshoeing with us or take a rain check.
Many of our members own snowshoes which they’ve used in past seasons. If you don’t have a pair, I’d recommend buying them now. Prices start around $100.
And once you own snowshoes, you’ll be ready to roll when the snow does come. If you like or love hiking, the odds are high that you’ll enjoy snowshoeing as well.
Some stores also rent snowshoes, but local REI stores may be the only ones renting them this winter, and after a snowstorm they quickly run out of rentals.
Get in touch if you have any questions about snowshoes and snowshoeing. You can learn a lot more by going to the Snowshoeing page.
-- Charlie Cook