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Snowshoeing

January 6th, 2008

I’ve been meaning to post something about Miguel Angel Asturias, a Guatemalan writer who won the Nobel in 1967, but the topic is still a little too engrossing for me to distill down to a point just yet.

In the meantime, a story of winter wanderings!


Sometime in mid-December it snowed a heck of a lot. I strapped on my snowshoes, took hold of my long wooden pole, and set forth.

Snowshoeing in fresh, deep snow is ridiculously fun. It should probably be illegal it is so fun. Of course, not everybody has snowshoes. I happen to own a beat-up old pair I bought for $65 back in 2000 or so, well-used but functional. These are not the classic kind made of wood and rawhide, but the more modern variety, plastic, with metal claws that attach to your boots and pivot freely from the rest of the shoe. Also toothed metal runners along the bottom for traction on steep hillsides. They are, frankly, awesome.

Running downhill in snowshoes over two feet of fluff instills in me a bizarre, dreamlike sense of invincibility. The tracks on the shoes have just enough grip to keep you from losing control completely, and their weight and surface area lowers your center of gravity, making it virtually impossible to topple forward headfirst into a tree. It feels like running on the moon. Or walking a tightrope with one of those bigass poles. I take giant loping strides and rocket along effortlessly. Abominable snow-me. The snow sticks to the trees and hushes everything, and there’s nobody around, so I sing like an idiot. Grateful Dead songs mostly. Dire Wolf.


This is Chang Farm in Whately, MA, with the Connecticut River and Sunderland on the far side. My trek began at that group of buildings in the middle distance center left. I visited the cemetery, then crossed through fields and climbed up the embankment to the bridge, out of sight at far left. I went over the bridge, past more fields to the south foot of Mt. Sugarloaf, and up to the top where I took this picture. I stopped and sucked on an icicle for a bit until I got my wind back. Then I veered off-trail and plunged down the north side of the mountain, hooting maniacally all the way and lashing my poor doggie Max, to deprive the good little children of South Deerfield of assorted Who Puddings, cans of Who Hash, and Electro-Cardio-Snooks. Then I turned around and wandered across more fields back to the bridge and home. And boy was I exhausted when I got there!

   Visions, Winter, Writings | 2 Comments »



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2 Comments »

  • wil says:

    I’ve always imagined snowshoeing to be somewhat difficult…trudging along…slogging through the deep snow…but you make it sound fun. I ought to borrow a pair of shoes from my dad sometime (the wood and rawhide variety) and give them a whirl.

    Great photos BTW — love the river shot.

    • mjd says:

      I’m not saying it’s easy. Back before I actually had tried it, my idea of snowshoeing was of strolling uninhibited over the crust without sinking in at all. Sadly that is not the case. Unless you are a little person walking on a pretty thick crust, you do sink in a lot. Hard work for the thigh muscles. But going the same places without snowshoes would be ten times as difficult or impossible. And yeah, the running pell-mell downhill part is unbelievably great.

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