I don’t want to bore you with more details about my snowshoeing excursions, but I had to write a little something to account for the cool pictures I got after a fresh blanket of snow covered everything this morning.
My legs didn’t even hurt this morning. After yesterday’s snowshoeing, I figured I’d be hobbling lame and would finally have a good excuse to lay low around the cabin this morning, but no such luck.
Dolly, who appeared sound asleep and dead to the world, suddenly sprang to life when she heard the rustling of my outdoor wear. Instantly, she was on alert and eagerly watching my every move; no one’s leaving her behind!
I was determined to get a really good workout today so I chose a path twice as long as yesterday’s. This new route included some woods and some challenging terrain along the high-elevation shoreline of Lac Courte Oreilles.
If I had to rate my ability to choose a course that was most likely to leave me in pain later, I’d have to give myself an 8 today. Dolly and I enthusiastically marched through the sparkling, freshly fallen snow in the thicket, like we did yesterday, but instead of heading to the cabin after that last long hill climb we turned towards the lake.
Our destination is a small, private boat landing on Lac Courte Oreilles, which offers us easy access to the lake. I sure wish I had those ski poles! Snowshoeing on the flat without poles is manageable but navigating this slippery, tree-stump studded hillside is a challenge without something to help catch my miss-steps. Dolly and I cautiously made it down to the frozen water’s edge. I was relieved to find myself still standing up at the bottom of the hill-I admit, my balancing skills are not exemplary, and I could have most easily rode down to the shoreline on my butt.
The snow on the lake was not as deep as was on land, so Dolly and I each got a breather. The crazy dog turned into a fireball for a short time and raced back and forth across the snow – ears flopping and snow flying everywhere! A few minutes more of play and snowball catching then we were back to our peaceful trek along this panoramic shoreline. Lac Courte Oreilles looked like an immense slate of frosted glass; barren, other than the few ice fishing shanties dotting the hazy, cerulean horizon. The hillsides bordering the lake were desolate, with lonely, bare trees and not a sign of the usual bustling summer life.
On the homeward stretch I had to decide which route off the lake would be best. The boat landing area offered the lowest elevation and an easier climb up the hill, but was so darn far away. The shortest path would be right up the steep hill in front of me. If I could scale that, then it would be smooth, level snowshoeing back to the cabin; so that was my obvious choice.
“Wrong choice idiot” I swear either the dog or a tree uttered those words at some point during my ascent. The angle of the hillside was brutally steeper than I originally estimated, and I struggled to keep up forward momentum. Poles, again, would have been awesome to have, but instead I grappled my way up hill using twigs, rocks and anything else protruding from the snow.
Halfway up I stopped to assess my progress, and of course, catch my breath. I had to alter my course to one side to take advantage of the ample supply of twigs and trees over that way. Apparently there is a technique to snowshoeing uphill and at an angle, that I wasn’t aware of. Inching towards a sapling to grab, my snowshoes lost footing and decided to slide, both at once actually, which created a panic situation and a clumsy downhill scramble. Thankfully the chaos ended only a few feet down the hill and I quickly regained my composure. I glanced around because I thought I heard someone laughing at my calamity, but didn’t see anyone but Dolly. There she was, peering over the crest of the hill at me with a comical look on her face, and in the ‘catch me if you can’ stance. Of course she was laughing, she thought this was a game.
Back up on the top tier of our civilization, the untouched snow was almost thigh deep, and Dolly wasn’t laughing anymore. We plowed ahead, the only sound around for miles was our labored breathing. Alas! our little brown cabin is in sight-the fragrant smell of the wood burning in the fireplace guides us in.
The old snowshoes are propped up in the corner again and Dolly is dried off and sitting next to me while I’m sipping my hot chocolate. This time we were both worn out by our exploits. As I hand her a dog treat, Dolly’s weary eyes meet mine and I see a faint twinkle in her gaze, I know at that instance we are both plotting our next snowshoeing adventure.