Approximately 2 minutes after posting about My Disastrous Snowshoe Debut on Friday, I decided to bite the bullet and give it another go.
Of course I did.
I’m happy to report that Friday’s snowshoe jaunt was uneventful and pleasant. I still don’t know how the hell I’m going to snowshoe for an entire race, but that is a problem for another day. Specifically, for March 1.
I learned a few things on my second expedition, and am here to share my wisdom:
• It is hard to snowshoe when there isn’t much snow. I guess this is kind of obvious. I went on some trails in a state park down by the beach, and there were sections where the wind had blown off much of the snow layer. It is really awkward to try and snowshoe on a thin layer of snow over dirt, grass, sand, leaves, tree stumps, whatever. Hopefully Killington will have a nice base for the race.
• There is a massive difference in “real feel” between 8 degrees and 18 degrees. When I snowshoed on Wednesday, it was 8 degrees plus wind chill. It was painfully cold. Friday was 18 degrees plus wind chill. It was manageable. To anyone in a warm weather climate, there must seem to be little difference between 8 and 18. Not so. For me, it was the difference between cursing because I was freezing and cursing because I had to unzip my jacket with double-gloved hands.
• My tennis sneakers work much better than my running sneakers for snowshoeing. I get that they still are probably highly inappropriate footwear, but they were stiffer, warmer (leather) and worked pretty well. Plus, I think I quit tennis about 3 weeks after my husband bought them for me, so it makes me feel good to use them for something.
• Toewarmers in the shoe make a big difference when you wear inappropriate shoes for snowshoeing.
• It is really difficult to run – or even walk fast – in a ski jacket. I felt like I was trying to run in a Staypuf Marshmallow Man costume. Fingers crossed that it is at least in the high teens or 20’s for the race so I can wear my Bundle Up running jacket.
• Jacket aside, it is also kind of hard to run in snowshoes. Those things are waaaaay bigger than my feet. It definitely took a bit to get into a groove where I didn’t feel like I was about to trip over my newly-huge feet. I can’t say I ever got to the point of being elegant, but I did manage somewhat of a steady pace after an initial (very) awkward period.
• Zip ties are handy little buggers. My ankle strap clip broke on one of my snowshoes Wednesday, and there was no way I was going to wait for Tubbs to send out a replacement before attempting another snowshoe walk/run. Enter the zip tie. I love these things and have more items around my house that are secured with zip ties than I care to admit (most everything else is held together with duct tape or binder clips, two of my other favorite essentials). It worked perfectly to secure my ankle strap – better even than the original clip. The only negative, of course, is that unlike the clip, the zip tie needs to be cut off in order to remove the snowshoe. No bother – I packed a set of clippers and was good to go. I am definitely keeping a few of these in my ski jacket for any future mishaps.
• If you head out in this kind of cold without first applying chapstick, you’re asking for trouble. I forgot, but fortunately had some tucked away in a random pocket in my ski jacket. Wind & cold are not kind to your lips. Nor is a balaclava, which basically traps warm, humid air (i.e. your breath) by your mouth. I think that if I were to head out for a really long snowshoe in this type of weather, I might even put some aquaphor all around my mouth for extra skin protection.
• If you do not go to the bathroom before you exercise in this kind of cold, you will regret it. Fortunately, I did, so did not have to avail myself of the freezing cold porta potties located by the trails. I saw a few walkers exiting them, and they did not look happy. No. They looked to be downright miserable and possibly in shock.
And the most important thing I learned on Friday:
SNOWSHOES WORK A HECK OF A LOT BETTER WHEN YOU PUT THEM ON THE RIGHT FEET!! Yes, it turns out that many of my binding issues on Wednesday resulted from the fact that I put the damn snowshoes on the wrong feet. Even though the snowshoes look the same, there is a right one and a left one. I knew this, but somehow reversed in my mind which one was left and which was right when I put them on. Sigh.
I’m appropriately mortified, of course. And relieved to know that I don’t have to stumble on snowshoes crookedly for 13 miles on March 1.