Okay, not actually a walk. Technically a snowshoe. My very first snowshoe experience, to be precise. Yes, you may remember that I bought snowshoes in December, when they were on wicked good sale. This winter has kind of sucked for snow though (and yeah, I am totally not complaining about not having to shovel much), and I kind of chickened out of trying out the snowshoes cause let’s face it, I’m not the world’s most adventuresome person.

Luckily!! Luckily I have a friend named Pam, who is way cooler than me and knows how to do stuff like, um, snowshoe. She met me at the same conservation area where I communed with the deer last week and immediately had to help me with the most basic of tasks: putting on my damn snowshoes.

Yeah, I can’t quite figure that one out. Same sort of problem as when I skiied, actually. I have a hard time torquing my body down and to the side. You kinda need to do that to tighten the back buckle. Luckily, Pam knew what she was doing. And then we were off.

I decided we should take the route I’ve done with dad about six times, but start on the left instead of the right (it’s a loop). Almost immediately we saw two deer. One of them really really wanted my carrots (stinkeye from last week), but his friend the other deer bounced in with her tail up and they bounded away. I left some carrots anyway.

We carried on and ran into this guy.

This grouse is apparently well known by the local cross country skiiers. S/he jumps up on your skis (or snowshoes) and rides along with you. We’re not well known to the bird, so it just followed us for a while. And then it cried (like a cat, for the love of pete) until I gave it a carrot. I am totally not kidding you.

I think it was the grouse that distracted me, because we got lost. Not just a little lost, but a lot lost. Like, where the heck are we? kind of lost. The kind where you think “should I just head to a road and walk back that way?” and then “oh man, which road is that?” and then “oh god, we’re lost in the woods without a cell phone”.

Along the way, we saw some cool stuff. Lots of downed branches and the like, and several hoofprints. Because the snow is so soft, even the deer were having a hard time keeping above it.

I know… totally not a hoofprint, but I swear that’s what I thought it was. Sigh.

And then we walked through a glade of trees glinting with water drops.

If only it had been sunny, it would have been spectacular. Pam rightly pointed out that if it was sunny, there wouldn’t have been water drops everywhere.

I was never so happy as I was to see a septugenarian cross country skiier about 90 minutes into our maximum one hour trek. He thought it was very impressive that we’d been snowshoeing at this point for that long. He’s been skiing for 60 years or so and regaled us with some stories about the grouse (see above) and his wife, and how we had a lot more stamina than he does. I was like “yeah, bud, but we’re 40 years younger than you are”, but politely held my tongue. He told us it was a 30 minute ski to the parking lot and not to make any turns no matter what we thought we should be doing. A 30 minute ski? Crap, I thought. Double crap. I’m a lot slower on snowshoes than skiiers are. And I’m already sweating like it’s going out of style.

Foolishly, I decided to take off my snowshoes. I was tired. It seemed like a lot of work. I’d walked the trail last week and it was totally packed down. And yet, it snowed this week. About five or six centimetres – not much, but all of it was squishy and man, it was some tough walking.

That’s when we ran across our little friend again.

Shortly after the grouse reappeared, we found the carrots that I’d left for stinkeye and his flighty friend. I felt like Gretel from Hansel and Gretel finding my trail of breadcrumbs. I thought I was happy to see the skiier, but that had nothing on the happiness I felt when I saw the carrots. Hot damn.

And shortly after that, we were in the parking lot. I sweated a lot. I’m not gonna lie, snowshoeing is hard work. I feel like I’ve been rode hard and put up wet. My feet were wet and cold, my pants were wet up to my knees, and I’m pretty sure that a snowshoe hit me in each shin about 9,000 times this morning. I clearly need to work on my stride.

But, I had fun. Pam had fun (she’s a very good sport). I warmed up eventually (thanks to some good food and a really hot shower), and realised that, as much as I bitched and complained, and as much as my thighs and butt hurt right now, I enjoyed the snowshoeing. And the wicked good photo ops.

Working out is so very much better with a friend, don’t you think?

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