Thursday, January 17, 2013
Last month, I bought my first pair of snowshoes the day before the biggest blizzard of the winter (so far). I've mostly been trying them out by walking in circles around my yard -- and I don't have a very big yard! So I went on the Internet to see if I could find good places to snowshoe in central Iowa. I discovered that the Boone County Conservation board was hosting a snowshoe hike nearby at Don Williams Lake north of Ogden. So on a whim, I decided to check it out.
I was nervous about going, because I was afraid I'd be the only adult who showed up for the hike. But I was very pleasantly surprised to find that more than 30 people were in attendance, and I was actually one of the younger people at the event. I discovered it's a great exercise for all ages.
The conservation board had snowshoes for those who didn't have their own. Almost everyone used a pair of trekking poles as well, but I decided to go pole-less, which turned out to be a good decision because it left my hands free to take photos.
Here's the conservation specialist giving some advice on how to wear the snowshoes. Not sure if you can tell in this photo, but her baby daughter was strapped to her chest. She led the snowshoe hike while carrying her daughter! How cool is that?!
When we started the hike, we had to walk down a couple steep hills. That was probably the hardest part, because you're walking like a duck with the large snowshoes strapped to your feet. The secret is to dig your toes into the snow, because the snowshoes have "grippers" at the toes for walking on ice, etc.
After a little downhill hiking, we walked out on the ice-covered lake. I wasn't expecting to go "ice-shoeing," and I was little nervous about walking out on the ice. But it was so much fun! And the conservation specialist told us not to worry; the ice was plenty thick after nearly two weeks of below freezing temperatures. (The ice isn't safe right now, however, after the warm spell we've had. So I don't recommend trying this now.)
We walked right down the center of the lake. We could see tracks in the snow from the other critters that have been walking on the lake.
Every once and awhile, we'd see a bare patch of ice on the lake. You could see that the ice was very clear and thick.
We ended up hiking for about an hour. We spent a lot of time snowshoeing through the woods as well as walking on the lake. At the end, we could help ourselves to hot chocolate at the lodge.
It was an amazing day, and I'm so happy that I decided to go on this snowshoe hike before the snow melted.