Friday, December 19, 2008

A Walk In the Woods--on Snowshoes

I offer apologies to Bill Bryson for borrowing his title. The Woods I enjoyed in the snow are nothing compared to the Applachian Trail.

Ten inches of snow created a wonderful opportunity for snowshoeing in Madison. The channel 3 noon show reported excellent conditions: 24 degrees, snow no longer coming down, and plenty of snow everywhere.

What a beautiful day in Elver Park! I arrived there soon after the snowfall ceased so trails had yet to be groomed, and other snowshoers weren’t there yet. I went cross country through varying snow depths to get to the woods. On the way I detoured toward the much publicized sledding hill (much publicized due to the park being near the television stations), and watched plenty of children going downhill with happy screams and falls. Then I watched a pair of birds of prey, possibly hawks, circle over the trees with graceful glides. I saw them again when I returned at the end of my walk.

New snow is beautiful in the woods, especially when few people are on the trails. A couple of skiers reminded me to stay off the tracks, and I reminded them that I was on the edge of the trail. Trail etiquette prevails; snowshoers are not supposed to mess up the ski trails. On the other hand, snowshoers can go where skiers can’t, because they don’t require trails.

Snowshoeing is a good aerobic exercise, and it enables one to experience the woods in their winter attire. It is a reconnection with natural things. It also is an opportunity to fall or break an ankle if the snowshoer isn’t careful.

Other good places to snowshoe are in the state parks in Door County, especially Potawatomi and Newport, and the place I first found in Outagamie County, halfway between Seymour and Black Creek. If only I could remember the name of it.

Today was great. No falls. The old boots held up. The weather was pleasant. No crowds except on the sledding hill. Saturday everyone will be there. Where were the television people to record this year’s maiden voyage on snowshoes?

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