If the snowshoe fits12/18/2013
In this day of fast-paced motors and high-adrenaline maneuvers, it’s peaceful to slow down with a more primitive practice from simpler times. Instead of putting on boots and trekking your way through the drifts this winter, walk above it all, like a snow-charming deity. Experience the almost-lost mode of transportation, snowshoeing.
“We have offered snowshoes to the public for approximately five years,” said Patrice Petersen-Keys, environmental education coordinator with Polk County Conservation.
The earlier versions of snowshoes were made of wood with rawhide latticework inside the wooden frame. The bindings were typically made of leather, and they were long, bulky and heavy. This is the sort of stereotypical snowshoe that resembles a tennis racquet.
Many of today’s snowshoes are constructed with light, durable aluminum frames and synthetic decking. The decking is usually made of a cold-resistant rubber or plastic material. They are smaller, lighter, stronger and much more maneuverable than their older counterparts, Petersen-Keys explained.
For people who are intimidated by (or can’t afford) other winter sports like skiing or hockey, snowshoeing is a viable alternative and a great way to get outdoors and explore the winter tundra. For first-timers, it may take a little while to get used to snowshoeing, as the sport requires a tiring gait. It can also be challenging to turn around in snowshoes, as the large webs significantly reduce maneuverability. However, once one gets familiar with the mechanics of snowshoeing, it is possible to cover large amounts of ground.
“I wouldn’t say there is a downside to snowshoeing, but there are things that cause some difficulty. Wet snow that sticks to your shoes is particularly irritating,” Petersen-Keys admitted. “Aside from that, there are many things that make snowshoeing fun and exciting. With snowshoes you’re not really limited to simply walking the trails. The freedom to explore, combined with the silence of winter, is something to experience for yourself.” CV
David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.