Snowshoeing is the Bomb!!
I love firsts!
That heart-racing exhilaration of doing something – anything – for the first time in your life.
(Or for the first time with someone new….like the first time he (or she) brushes your fingertips with his own, or entwines his fingers with yours, or that first kiss, or the first whispered confession of love…oh so exhilarating!)
A few weeks ago, I snowshoed for the first time – and – IT. WAS. AWESOME!!
Best weekend of the year so far! Definitely the one to beat!
I know it seems odd that after 12 years in Canada this was my first time snowshoeing. I have wanted to try it since I first heard there was such a thing and there have been many friends who suggested going over the years, but life happened and snowshoeing didn’t.
Until a few weeks ago!
With much gratitude to Mr. M.
A friend with follow through!
And we didn’t stop at one day; we went both days of the weekend – in fact, we went up three times on the weekend, once on the first day and twice on the second. Broken up on the second day by an appointment in town and a kitty in recovery from a broken leg.
On the first day the weather was perfect – sun, fresh snow on the ground, and temperatures in the single digit’s over 0°C.
Mr. M was patient as he showed me how to get strapped into my rented snowshoes, and didn’t laugh too hard as I clumsily “found my feet”. I, however, laughed a lot at the strange feel of it.
We started out on an easier trail (Wonderland Loop Trail).
Even still, with the strange new feeling of large “shoes”, there were sections of the trail that looked to me like 10 foot drops straight down…! Moments that I hesitated, sometimes immobilised with fear, at the sight of a small descent – afraid of falling, afraid of tripping over these enormous things on my feet, and afraid of looking stupid in front of the people around me – especially Mr. M.
These “drops” were not at all steep though, more a gentle decline, and when I did the same trail the following day I couldn’t even find the “scary” parts!! Haha.
Our mind creates the reality of our experience.
Sure, I might be stating the obvious, but I don’t always acknowledge this in my daily life. Writing it here is a good reminder for me that even a hint of fear – or in my case a hint of “the unknown” – can blow reality out of all recognisable proportions.
In accepting this, I hope to alleviate some of the panic from my next “first”. (Haha…if only life were so simple as to remember every lesson when we need it!)
New experiences and the thrill of them, can be amazing under the ‘right’ circumstances! For me, the thrill of a new experience can also bring the terror of the unknown.
I do push through it, and while I’m vocal about my fears as I feel them (a good quality… right?!?) I keep moving forward. I am proud of my willingness to walk the fear-filled path and conquer the unknown. And once the unknown becomes the known, there is no stopping me!
I’m quite brave really! Well – sometimes!
After this beginner/intermediate trail we headed up toward a harder trail (Al’s Habrich Trail). Note: the name of this trail intrigues me. Who is this Al and why is this his trail?
The entrance to the trail is straight into a forest and almost immediately brings you to a rise that is about a 10 feet of straight up steep! (Very little exaggeration this time – it was well over my head and also over Mr. M’s 6′ frame.)
I stopped, taking it in.
My stomach doing twists, my legs gaining an undeniable feeling of elasticity (a.k.a. overcooked noodles!), I wanted to suggest we go back and take the other path we’d passed on the way.
I waited for my friend’s assessment of the situation, unwilling to go forward without his say so. I tried my best to be brave and not immediately show my panic. A few other people passed us and made it up no problem.
Actually, I wasn’t so concerned about going up – I don’t mind climbing steeper parts upward, in fact I quite like the feeling of strength and power in my legs as I go… but I was hyper-aware that we would also have to come down that same section.
And that made me want to run screaming in the other direction.
But I didn’t want Mr. M to think I was chicken. I wanted to be brave and “cool”. (haha… I’m pretty much the anti-cool!)
We were also at the beginning of the trail and I’d never been up this trail before so I was worried the whole trail was going to be like this. In fact, it was the reason I called this day a bit shorter than necessary. Each time we started to climb again I panicked about more steep bits ahead. I didn’t want to “chicken out” in front of another incline, so I feigned being too “pooped” to continue.
I feel ashamed about this actually because I love hiking and walking – I also don’t mind exertion and sweat! But once that fear worm took hold I was too proud to say “I’m scared to go up any more steep bits because I’m still panicked about the one we left behind and I couldn’t cope with two in our wake.” (See – not always so brave!)
We didn’t turn back immediately though, we did follow the trail for maybe 30 minutes on a slow steady incline. We also took a breather to walk out to a look-out spot and take in the breathtaking views.
Other than that one section, I loved this trail. A good work out, beautiful, and because of the company – so much fun!
Or should I say “Snow Much Fun!”
On the way back, I developed a new way of taking the downhill slopes that worked for me. A clip-cloppy movement that I felt gave me more stability because the teeth on the bottom of my snowshoes were able to “bite” into the under-crust of the path. It was a bit like jogging. I had been thinking of horses and their “dance” steps and came up with a movement that made me feel stable (haha).
We made our way back to the base and, after getting a well-deserved drink, we headed outside to the viewing area to watch the sunset.
Beautiful pinks, purples, oranges, the mountains, the sky, the ocean all changing colours before us, it was a delicious way to end an amazing day.
I appreciate that I had someone fun, confident, knowledgeable, adventurous, daring, silly, funny, and masculine (let’s be completely honest), to share in this first adventure.
But it wasn’t over yet…
The next day we went up in the morning again, I rented a different pair of snowshoes to test another style. I’d already decided I wanted to purchase a pair as soon as I could get to the city, so I wanted to test out the different kinds they had.
It was snowing lightly and I was overjoyed! Love the snow!
This time Mr. M went X-country skiing, and I took myself back on the Wonderland Lake Trail. This is how I discovered there were no “scary parts” anymore. I kept waiting for them, and they never appeared!
Another good reminder that we (I) adjust rapidly to our new place in time, to our new limits, to our new understanding.
Discomfort in learning something new is fleeting.
Of course, I may not remember this next time I’m going through the discomfort of something new and unknown, but maybe I will. Perhaps this will help the future me relax and go with the flow a little more.
We only had an hour by the time we set out that morning to do our thing and meet back at the gondola because Mr. M had an appointment in the town he couldn’t miss, and I had to check on my kitty-cat who is making the slow recovery from a broken hind leg (more on this in another post).
I really enjoyed the time on my own to try the snowshoes my way. I ran a little, took myself “off-trail” a little, and – because of the time constraint – powered around the loop working up a sweat and enjoying the feel of my blood pumping! So good, and NO scary bits!
After we’d completed our duties in town, we headed back up again.
To my delight it was still snowing and had turned into big fluffy flakes – I LOVE snow!
I rented the same snowshoes without additional charge (thank you to the Sea to Sky Gondola rentals for allowing this) and this time Mr. M suggested we take ourselves more off the path.
We very loosely followed – off-off path – the Panorama Loop Trail.
This time with a day’s worth of fresh powdery snow that was still falling around us, I got to really “test out” the snowshoes.
It was just the two of us in the wild – there was NO ONE else on the trails at all at that time on a Monday afternoon in the snow! Very peaceful and sometimes surreal.
The trees around us burdened with the weight of the snow created shapes that enchanted my mind – I saw a snow princess walking down the aisle (and can’t believe I didn’t take her photo!), aliens, storm troopers, elephants, and a variety of other creatures and shapes that made me wonder if snow covered forests have been the inspiration for all story/movie characters!
Mr. M led the way off the path, and over what looked like 40 foot drops (in my mind at least). I was worried about falling so I started off following in his footsteps for every jaunt off the path.
Sensing this reluctance to try new-ground on my own, he suggested “you go ahead, create our path.” In fact, over the course of this afternoon he suggested that a lot. I surprised myself and took routes I never would have tried on my own. Both inclines and descents!
Sometimes, when I was feeling a bit nervous about going first I would ask questions about how I should take the next step, or make it over that ravine, or how to step down from this tree to that tree (truly!)… so he would take the lead again. He knew what I was doing and never called me on it. (Thank you!) I confessed my strategy later and he laughed with “I noticed”.
He showed me how close to “the edge” we could get in snowshoes, explaining how the snowshoe packs the snow below down into a solid platform.
We traipsed over edges and mounds as though we were walking a nicely carved trail.
Ok… that’s not true exactly – we did those things, but I fell A LOT!!
Thankfully falling in the fluffy fresh snow is completely different to the icy-sun-crusted stuff and it was actually really fun (and soft) to fall! Hard to get up though with 3′ long “feet”. Mr. M was patient with my falling and always helped me up, after he (and I) finished laughing of course!
We used the flip up thingy (technical term) of our snowshoes to make our way back up hills that seemed un-walk-up-able! (Also a technical term!) These enormous inclines were slow going and sometimes involved hands, feet, and a tonne of laughter – but they were totally do-able! Amazing!
These are things I would NEVER have tried on my own!
Or even with a girlfriend – it’s true, I felt safer with a manfriend. I’m not ashamed to say that having a confident, competent man with me while doing something completely new and adventurous outdoors makes me feel safer.
There is something about the practicality of a man that I appreciate so, so much in these situations. The less emotive, more jokey way in which they approach adventure – and my fears – makes me feel safe.
If I’d been with someone who felt equally as apprehensive as me and wasn’t the strong one when I was feeling weak, or who tried to comfort my fears instead of talking me through the technical side of why we can walk over the edge, and/or, laughing my fears off with a show of strength and bravery, then I might not have been as brave myself. Nor enjoyed it as much. I needed someone to take me to the edge and show me how safe I was so I could be more adventurous on my own… next time.
Perhaps it is because I am single and I have to always be the strong one in my life that it was such a relief to be open to someone else taking the lead so I could just “be”.
(Note: I am not saying men can’t be emotive either… I love and appreciate the emotional side of men too. I just appreciated the generalised masculine qualities in this situation.)
A few times we lost track of the path we were “following” and both felt completely turned around, uncertain where we were in relation to the trail, or to the Gondola.
“Hmmm… I should have brought a compass,” said Mr. M, “next time I will.”
Haha…if I’d been on my own with a compass then I’d just have been lost… with a compass! LOL. No help at all if you don’t know how to use it to navigate your way back to your starting point! So I asked him to please teach me how to use a compass to help me in this situation the next time we go forest trekking and I am looking forward to learning how.
My favourite part…
The afternoon jaunt off the path was my favourite part of the entire weekend of snowshoeing – soft, fluffy snow, walking right over an edge that seemed impossible but was entirely possible, falling into the downy softness of the new snow, eating snow along the way (so delicious and refreshing), walking back up steep slopes that again seemed impossible but were absolutely possible, making our own way through the forest, and being the only two people for what felt like miles and miles.
The silence of the forest in snow, especially while snow is falling, is one of the most enchanting feelings. That muted sound of peace fills my entire soul with a calmness that I don’t find anywhere else. So grateful to have access to these experiences.
Though I do wish it snowed more where we live!
Enormous amounts of gratitude, love, and thanks to Mr. M for introducing me to snowshoeing, for taking us off-path into the ‘enchanted’ forest, for encouraging me to try things that scared me, for being patient when I baulked at doing those things, for showing me where snowshoes can go and how safe I was by leading the way, for laughing when I fell (and helping me up too!), for making my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so much…(always a pleasure)….and for making this ‘first’ Amazing, Amazing, AMAZING! 🙂
Oh my goodness I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE SNOWSHOEING!!!
To go into the sections of the forest that I’d never seen before and feel like a pioneer, lost in a magical new land…
Definitely the best weekend of the year so far!
May there be many more amazing weekends, and many more “firsts” to come!
Including becoming a parent! Maybe 2016 is the year!
Warm smiles and Love,