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Good snowshoes are like good friends; they don't let you down

On Second Thought
Lead Summary
Lori Sorenson, editor

I invested in snowshoes this winter after several treks across open fields in a borrowed pair with my neighbor friend, Wendy.
In January she purchased two sets, one for herself and one for a snowshoeing partner (lucky me).
My only previous experience with snowshoes was 15 years ago in the Blue Mounds State Park with their rented wooden raquettes and rawhide laces. I remembered that it took nearly as long to put them on as it did to hike the park.
Modern aluminum snowshoes are lightweight, compact, comfortable to walk in and easy to get into and out of.
I lost track of the miles we trekked in the snow — or more accurately “on top of the snow” – this winter, right over ditches, waterways and fence lines that were buried deep under the snow.
I fancied us on Arctic expeditions, our frost-encrusted lashes squinting toward a horizon of never-ending drifted snow, polished smooth by frigid northwest winds. (Never mind that home was right behind us.)
Wendy called one day from Sioux Falls to report the snowshoes were on sale if I was interested.
“Yes,” I didn’t hesitate. “Get two, please.”
A few hours and an Apple payment later, I had my very own pair plus an extra.
… which came in handy last weekend when Matt’s 10-year-old grandson stayed with us for a visit.
Off we went, atop the snow, through the grove and around the acreage.
Our boots, secured in the snowshoes, would sink a few inches if we hit fresh, fluffy stuff, but mostly we stayed on the surface.
Colton, with shorter legs and smaller feet, at the midway point of our return hike, decided the snowshoes were cumbersome, so he handed me his pair and took off without them.
With about 200 yards remaining between us and home, I gently suggested he may need them.
“This is much easier,” he assured me, his boots crunching across the top of a hard drift.
As the words left his mouth, his right foot punched through the crust and his leg disappeared over his knee.
It was one of those teachable moments when no teaching — or even words for that matter — were necessary.
The point of snowshoes, of course, is to enable walking on snow without falling through. What better way to appreciate the value of snowshoes than to attempt snow walking without them.
It later occurred to me a good pair of snowshoes are like good friends (and good grandmas).
They’re comfortable, dependable and can help you stay on top of things through a difficult journey.
Life can get in the way of relationships, but all it takes is an occasional “breakthrough” to realize we’re better together.

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