All photos below were taken by E.g. and cropped by Turtle.
Two days ago, on March 29, it was actually raining in Saint John, but when we got here on the 20th it was still solidly, stolidly winter. While Fergus and Cai were light enough to run around on top of the snow in E.g.’s parents’ backyard, a human step would sink up to the knee. How to pick up after the pupsters, then? Alyson?
That’s right: snowshoes!
One small step on yuccakind…
Snowshoes are a First Nations invention. They were originally made of wood and rawhide. The ones here are aluminum and nylon, with canvascloth bindings. No specialized boots are necessary; just slip the toe of your regular ol’ winter boot into the canvas toehold and wrap the strap around your ankle, then slip the strap through the metal clip.
Getting a grip
Their large size distributes a person’s weight to prevent sinking into the snow. One needn’t be heavy to founder, by the way; one simply needs pointy legs. After the rain softened the snow the other day, Cuca the cat snuck outside, only to sink up to his shoulders in the backyard. Differing temperatures and successive thaws and refreezes make for many different textures of snow. On the day these photos were taken, there was a thin crust that upheld the dogs but wasn’t thick enough for me. Snowshoes work on crusty snow as well as they do in deep powder.
The webbing keeps snow from accumulating and weighing down the snowshoe. It also, I think, helps to prevent slipping backwards on slopes. I’m crouching in the second picture above only because the drift is so high; the shoes stayed steady.
Coureur de bois cancan
The third picture displays gratuitous lifting; E.g. wanted a show-off picture. It does demonstrate, however, that I could make my way through the underbrush fairly efficiently, if I needed to step over low tangles of bush and branch.
Le petit prince
As with cross-country skis, the heel is not fixed. You walk normally — you don’t even need poles! — and can crouch to capture those elusive canine poopies. Shh now. Ready, set…
All the better to wait on you, my dears.