There's No Shoes Like Snowshoes


Country MoonSnowshoes

I like to walk. This is probably a good thing since my job for the postal service requires me to hoof an average of 8 miles per day. But this is not where my love of walking lies. What I really enjoy is snowshoeing in the winter.

There is nothing more captivating than to strap on a pair of snowshoes on a moonlit winter’s night and feel the crisp snow underfoot, see the starry night above and listen to sounds of wildlife in the distance. If I am real lucky, I may catch a glimpse of a deer, rabbit or other creature out for a moonlight stroll also.

If you think this is a strange passion, consider that snowshoeing has been around for hundreds of years, born first out of necessity and later evolving more into recreation. By definition, snowshoes are footwear for walking over snow. They work by distributing the weight of the person over a large area so a person’s foot does not sink completely in the snow, a quality called “flotation.”

Traditional snowshoes have a hardwood frame with rawhide lacings. They are made of a single strip of some tough wood such as white ash, curved round and fastened together at the ends and supported in the middle by a light cross-bar. The space in the frame is filled with a close webbing of caribou, leaving a small opening just behind the cross-bar for the toe of the moccasined foot. They are fastened to the moccasin by leather thongs or buckles. This type of original snowshoe is still made and sold by native peoples.

There are still a large group of snowshoe enthusiasts who prefer these wooden varieties. Wooden frames do not freeze as readily as the new ones made of aluminum do and the wooden variety tends to be quieter. Even so, many of these wooden shoes have been destined to become decorations, mounted on walls or on mantels in ski lodges.

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