A snowstorm is coming. Well, more of an ice storm. Grrreat.
It's Christmas morning, the wind chill means it feels like 3 degrees outside, and we're rushing out to go snowshoeing for the first time. You know, before the weather gets really bad. Ugh.
âWelcome to Wisconsin in early winter. What better place to take my first crack at snowshoeing?
You have to go where the snow is, after all, and a trip to Up North to spend a long weekend with Colleen's parents provided the best opportunity to strap on the shoes for the first time.
Pat and Mary, my father- and mother-in-law, had long raved about how much they enjoy getting out for some "shoeing" during the winters in Lac du Flambeau and the surrounding lake communities. Colleen and I, however, are severely cold-weather averse and had always shied away from the activity -- and visiting Wisconsin in wintertime, in general, actually.
"No thanks; we'll see you next summer, though," has always been a standard response to invites to swing by for a visit in winter months.
The thing is, we also love seeing family for the Christmas holiday. So, we have been bundling up and making the trip the past couple of years. And while sharing holiday joy, hearty meals and a group viewing of the holiday classics "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Die Hard" with family is always on the agenda -- inside the comfort and warmth of the family home -- Mary has been prodding us to get out and try their favorite sport.
We actually had planned to give it a go more than a year ago but the weather was surprisingly mild during our visit for the holidays in 2015. Were we disappointed or relieved? Hmmm. Maybe a little of both. Like I say, we're no fans of the cold but always love to try fun new sports.
But maybe for just another few hours before the storm hits. We pull on our wool socks, make sure we have plenty of layers under our winter coats and head out. I have visions of falling over and plodding along, snot freezing to my goatee and fingers growing more numb by the moment. I mean, how is walking around with tennis racket-shaped footwear supposed to be enjoyable?
The snowshoes are designed in a way that it's easy to walk along at a normal gait, though. The temps also are so cold that the snow is soft and fluffy.
Colleen and I make our way down to the edge of Long Interlaken Lake, the body of water on which Pat and Mary's home is located. The lake is frozen (mostly), and we decide the ice is thick enough at the edges near land that we can safely start here.
âDespite the chilling temps, we quickly warm up once we start walking, and neither of us falls down. We walk the length of the lake until we realize that we can't get to the trails that we want to check out without trudging through the yards of some private residences. We double-back and head past the McDaniel home and out toward the road to follow over to the wooded area.
Properly warmed up, we have been out for about two hours when we gauge that we should get back before the first ice starts pelting us from the sky. Growing more confident in our abilities, we try a little jogging in the shoes on the way back. Snows flies from our feet as we swoosh through the powder. Gasping a bit, now I slow my pace, and we arrive back to the house in time for a hearty breakfast.
What new sport or activity have you tried recently that you weren't sure that you would like? (Please comment below.)
Travel fit, and thanks for reading! â
5 Things About Snowshoeing in Wisconsin
- It's easy to do. You strap on the shoes to your boots and start walking. The straps hold your toes in place and your heels stay free.
- You will sink into the snow but ride on top more easily than if you didn't have on the snowshoes. You also will have to take more pronounced strides, lifting up your legs higher, especially if you're in deep snow. In deep snow, you can use "hiking" poles to assist.
- Snowshoeing is a multifaceted workout: you get cardio, strength and agility benefits, burning up to 1,000 calories per hour. â
- Be safe. Make sure the ice is thick enough if you plan to go out onto a lake.
- Wisconsin is filled with dozens of snowshoe trails. Choose from these trails for your next winter adventure.