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Outdoors with John Perkovich

Posted: Tuesday, March 22, 2005

It had been close to 40 years since I last put on a pair of snowshoes and ventured out across the snow. The last time I put snowshoes on was as a young man in Wisconsin while I was hunting fox. Oh how well I remember that day you see besides Wisconsin also having a lot of snow it is also the dairy state. And part of dairy farms is the many fences that are also found throughout the farming countryside. You're not going to crawl through a 4 or 5-wire fence with 3 to 4 ft. snowshoes strapped to your feet so that means either you find a gate or climb over the top. So if you're fortunate enough to find a fairly low spot that you can crawl over easily you're in luck. However if you get one snowshoe over the fence and now have one on each side of the fence and the snow suddenly settles under one snowshoe or bothyou can be in a predicament that I think we men may understand a little more easily than the girls out there. Sometimes you will break through the four to six inch crust on the snowdrifts exposing soft fluffy snow underneath that basically will support no weight at all. Often times we wore wool pants that are not really easy to untangle from sharp barbwire prongs that are embedded in hopefully only your pants!

It is one of those situations that hopefully you aren't injured but if you are well your probably too embarrassed to not at least try the iodine first. Rather than explain to the nurse in front of a waiting room full of people when she ask you that famous first question, "and why are you here to see the doctor today?"you quietly mumble "I was snowshoeing and kinda got caught on a fence." You notice every ones head tip up as they wait for the answer to the second question "and what is the nature of your injuries?" By now you're beet red and you whisper as quietly as you can"near my upper legs."

Yes Doc now you know why the poor guy fainted and fell over on the floor because of all those many questions that your relentless nurse kept asking him. From now on lets put all waiting rooms right next to the sign-in counter so we can embarrass everyone as they sign in. If you're a sign-in nurse all you need to know is if a guy says snowshoes and a fence, trust me his injuries are not from hitting it at a high rate of speed!

A few days ago I took out a pair of snowshoes that were given to me by Donna Hoyt shortly after her husband Russ died. I adjusted the straps to fit my extra tall packboots and headed out the back door of my garage to go for an early morning hike down the pipeline. I found my first obstacle was getting one foot out the door without stepping on the bottom door jam at an angle and possible damaging the snowshoe, then having enough room to get the other snowshoe out the door without stepping on the other one. It was great getting to wear snowshoes again and not have to worry about fences to climb over. I found my next obstacle to be the pile of plowed snow that I had to climb over. The snow was glazed on the top and for a brief moment I thought my snowshoes thought they were skis. I started sliding backwards down the hill until I got one snowshoe turned sideways enough to stop my backwards descent. I managed to creep to the top of the snow pile and skied to the bottom whether I really wanted to or not. I only had one pair of skis on in my life and can guarantee you they are my last even if my new snowshoes want to pretend they are skis.

Once I reached the flat level ground I was doing good and making pretty quiet progress as I walked near the edge of the trees along the pipeline. I walked within 5 feet of a young moose who was on his knees feeding under a tree and he never even knew I was there. I thought about kicking him right in the butt for being so stupid to let me get right next to him. But I was pretty sure that if he came after me I was not going to be able to outrun him or climb a tree on snowshoes. So I just stood there and watched him for several minutes. All of a sudden he stood up and raced off through the woods as either he finally winded me or caught a glimpse of me.

I continued on down the pipeline only to break through the snow and my momentum carried me forward and my left snowshoe was under the snowdrift. So I had to back up and get the end of my snowshoe back on top of the snow not under it. All in all I was quite pleased with my new snowshoes and found them to be a very good form of exercise. If you have never worn snowshoes I urge you to try them. You will be amazed how much snow you can travel in. You can have all kinds of fun on snowshoes but try to avoid barbwire fences as much as possible.

See you next week!



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