January 11, 2011

Adventures in Snowshoeing

So it starts like this: my girl Michelle comes home from her mission. Michelle is legitimately the coolest person ever. 5'11" to start with which means she's automatically on my top 25 favorite people list. So Michelle invites me to a birthday party Friday night where we finalize our plans for snowshoeing on Saturday. We'll go at 2 pm since that will make it warm enough to not be completely and totally miserable. Saturday, I pick her up at her parents house where we come to find out that not only does she have 2 pairs of snowshoes (bless her), but the shoes come with hiking (snowshoeing?) poles and cute and convenient waterproof carrying cases. We're so excited. Michelle, being the intelligent young lady that she is, is wearing boots, winter gloves, ski pants and a parka. I, being self-described hard core, am wearing leg warmers, my favorite Spandex New Balance running tights over another pair of tights, running shoes and a North Face jacket.
We get to Big Springs, a nice location up Provo canyon past South Fork and start along the trail. A little cold at first, but after about 5 minutes, I think I wore just the right amount of Spandex for a lovely day on the trail.
At this point, the trail comes to a fork. and we take the left fork, but shoot, it starts taking us back down the mountain, so we turn around and head back to the right because it feels like the wrong direction.
Suddenly, we're walking through bushes. Hmmm...that's interesting because the last time I was at Big Springs, there were no bushes on the snow shoe trail, and wait a second, there was not river on both sides of the trail.Hmmm...snowshoeing in the river could be sketchy and/or freezing. "Hey Michelle, do you think we should turn around?" "Yeah, probably." We have every intention of just going back down and following the left fork to see what happens.
I go to take the lead, Michelle takes a step off the trail and sinks into the snow. Remember, she's my height, and is up to almost her hip in snow. This happens all the time when participating in any snow sport, really. No big deal. Until Michelle says, "Uh, Liz, I'm stuck." Michelle is really, literally, stuck. As in can't move her foot, can't move the snowshoe, stuck.
So, we do what any normal people would do, we start digging her out using our hiking poles, my hands in 99 cent magic stretchy gloves, and Michelle (smart girl) her winter gloves. I'm sitting on the snow in my Spandex and running shoes thinking maybe I should have dressed more appropriately for the weather?
We finally get Michelle's foot out of the boot, but the snowshoe and boot are stuck. We can't get the boot out, we can't get the snowshoe out. No luck with any of it. Digging and digging and digging.

Actually, at this point, our hands are soaked, Michelle's stocking foot is wrapped in the extra sweater I brought along in case it got too cold, the hiking poles are bent and/or in pieces, and we really just can't get the snowshoe out.
At some point I say. "Hmmm...maybe we should say a prayer?"
Michelle: "Great idea!"
Me: "Why didn't we have a six year old with us to think of that like 20 minutes ago?"
Seriously, why are 25 year olds so much less likely to stop and pray about stuff?
But that's not the point of this post.
Anyway, digging, digging, digging. Michelle using a snowshoe as a snow removal device. When we finally get to the actual snowshoe, we realize that the reason Michelle was so stuck is because her snowshoe has actually gone through the river into the mud at the river bottom and is stuck in mud. Luckily, the mud is actually quite pleasant smelling and the water is really warm (sarcasm), so the whole process is quite easy. Using Michelle's winter gloves, we reach through the water at the bottom of the river and finally after some muddy splashing and a heart rate in the 160s, pull the snowshoe out (thank heavens).

All in all, after about 90 minutes (16 of which we spent snowshoeing), we head back to the car, alive, well, and in one piece. Soaking wet in running shoes and Spandex. Michelle, being the kind young lady that she is, lets me wear the nice gloves, and I start talking about this interesting article I was just reading about treatment of frostbite. "Did you know that the reason people get frostbite is because it makes the cells literally freeze and crystallize? Isn't that interesting? Then all the proteins get denatured and when it thaws, they can't go back to normal because everything is all messed up." Leave it to a nurse, eh?
On the way, we come across a woman and her little Scottie dog wearing an argyle sweater and (kid you not) snow booties. Adorable. (Also slightly embarrassing since they are actually going faster than we are?). We also see some women, maybe in their 50's one of whom just face-planted into the snow, "Hey guys, I'm stuck." Her friends are teasing her and Michelle and I get all serious, "No really guys, you can get stuck. We almost couldn't get out just up on the trail a little ways." They laugh us off. Heh. Good luck getting her out, y'all. We're gonna head back to our car, hopefully in time to avoid hypothermia and/or denatured proteins in our big toes. No good Samaritans, here, just a couple of cold nurses (one of whom is sopping wet) who want to find a heater.
Michelle and I are planning on going snowshoeing soon.
Feel free to come along.
Maybe next time I'll wear appropriate gear.
Or just bring a shovel?


  1. I second all this information, especially about the future adventurous snow trips. And I'd like to publicly thank Liz for not cutting off my leg when we couldn't get it out.

  2. In all my life I've never seen two girls that looked so happy at getting stuck.

  3. I love you Liz. Hooray, you have a blog!

    Are children allowed to come on your next snow shoeing adventure?