This one’s a bit of a break from the standard… We didn’t climb any peaks that I haven’t already written about, but snowshoeing is something different that most people wouldn’t normally think to try, and it’s beautiful. Snow shoes, by the way, can be hired quite cheaply, so as long as you have the warm gear, you can have quite a fun day! It’s something I’d recommend everyone try at least once in life. It takes you back to being a kid, laughing at falling over in the snow, having a snowball fight (or three – no photos of that, as I was the main instigator), trying to walk backwards or sideways without falling, and feeling full of wonder and delight at the small enclosed soft white world of snow in which you find yourself. The perfect remedy after a depressing election day.
We set off, and were getting into our gear at the Lake Dobson shelter in no time.. we shivered our way along the Urquhart track, but by the time we broke out onto the road we were stripping off the layers, and throwing a few snow balls :p! A quick march up the road, a word of greeting to the SES guys who were practicing rescues, and we were off along the track. Still in our boots, with snow shoes strapped to our packs, as there wasn’t quite enough snow to warrant putting them on straight away. But as we got to the ski tow on the way towards the Rodway Range, the snow got a lot deeper, and after struggling with sinking in up to our knees, or at times further, it was time to put them to the test!
On they went, and we took our first few awkward steps, before getting used to the weight, the best way to move in them, and the big no-no’s :p! It doesn’t take long to adjust, and soon enough if you’re like me you find yourself running with joy, or even skipping!! The others were slightly more contained than me, and kept expressions of joy and happiness to smiles and verbal phrases, while I laughed and clapped and ran and skipped and lay down in the middle of it all… yes, for those of you who don’t know, I am the biggest, craziest nutter of them all.
We proceeded to enjoy the rest of the day, marvelling at the rock that looked like someone had taken out a piece of charcoal and sketched it then and there; at the way the wind caused ice to form in certain patterns, sometimes on the leeward and sometimes on the windward side of things; at the sheer beauty of it all, even though the whiteout limited how far you could see at any one time; at the isolation, the strength and sting of the wind driven sleet, yet the immense calm, peacefulness, and tranquility of the place, and its ability to transport you out of reality, into a surreal winter wonderland for the day.
We had flat expanses of snow interspearsed between the scree fields that make up the Rodway range, and though the going was much slower on the rock, and snow shoes surely can’t be designed for that, it was much faster and easier than without snow or snow shoes. I was surprised at how much grip they actually do have, though you have to put up with the unnatural and unpleasant sound of metal and plastic on rocks.
Extra special highlights (the whole day was a highlight really) included the challenge of climbing steep sections of snow without sliding down on your front, and the intentional sliding down on bums to get down steep enough sections of snow (much better than any water slide you’ve ever been on). Even falling over is fun, and it’s impossible not to laugh..
So next time there’s snow and you feel like a fun adventure.. consider hiring or borrowing a pair of snow shoes and heading out with some crazy friends.