I went snow-shoeing a few times when I lived in Colorado. It turns out that winter is one of the best times to hike in a popular place like Colorado because all of the tourists are not generally outdoorsy enough to appreciate the wilderness in the cold and snow of winter. So it’s usually the best time to visit those normally crowded hiking trails in places like the Rocky Mountain National Park (where everyone and his uncle seems to go to hike in the summer). Just about anywhere you go in Colorado in the winter is a lot less trafficked than in the summer. Only the die-hard Coloradoan outdoorsy people venture out in the winter.
Likewise, I like to hike the Cuyahoga Valley National Park more in the winter for the same reason: a lot less people. Some of my favorite trails in the park are ones that less people know about which go further into the woods and these are the ones I use during the summer because generally when I hike, I go to get away from everything, to commune with nature in an almost meditative manner. For this reason, in the summer, I completely stay away from many of the really popular hiking areas, such as the Ledges trailhead and the Overlook. The Overlook is often overflowing with people. Admittedly, these are really nice places to be, which is what makes them so popular. But I prefer to have those places when no one else is around to ruin the experience.
This is the first year in Ohio since I’ve come back that we’ve had such a significant snow fall that hiking on foot without the aid of cross-country skis or snow shoes is difficult. It can be quite frustrating because walking on snow is like walking on a sandy beach–you work much harder to get anywhere and you don’t get as far. I’m not really interested in learning to cross-country ski; I think of all those times when I’ve had to involuntarily cross-country ski on my normal skis when some between-trails trail flattens out. That completely sucks. I realize that your heels is free on cross-country skis, but I’m pretty sure you still feel like you’re dragging two boards behind you and pushing a lot with the poles to propel yourself on a flat land, and I’m just not that interested in it.
I do like to hike, though. And hiking in the winter is made so much easier when you’ve got some snow-shoes to stabilize you. Michael and I rented some snow shoes yesterday at the Kendall Lake shelter and we then took them to do the Octagon Loop trail by the ledges. It was great! I felt mobile and able to hike again! Which I’d been missing all winter since the too-deep snow has made hiking in just your boots a real burden.
I wouldn’t say that yesterday was the most beautiful day to hike. The gray skies cast a depressing mood over the world, but I did get my blood pumping and it felt really good to get out of the house instead of working out another morning on my trainer. After the hike, Michael became interested in snow-shoes so we checked some out at Appalachian Outfitters. Neither of us has committed to buying anything at this moment–even though I’ve wanted snow-shoes since I first tried them in Colorado–but I think it’s a possibility in the near future that I am going to buy my own pair. Of course, once I do this, the snow will melt and next winter will be much less snowy, as that is just my luck with these sort of things. Though, my opinion on having toys for the outdoors is that they never go to waste–I will find a use for them sooner or later and be really glad that I have them.
While we were out, we saw a momma deer and two younger deer who seemed to be going in the same direction next to the trail as us. They were really cute, seemingly just as interested in us as we were in them. Well, sort of. Momma was probably just trying to make sure we didn’t have any guns!
We also walked over to Ice Box Cave where we discovered some rather phallic looking icicles on the rocks. Or perhaps these are stalactites? stalagmites? Any geologists out there? Buehler? *crickets* Well, they were funny-looking anyway.