Snow Dazed

On March 29, 2008, in Uncategorized, by Meghan

When I opened the door to let the dog out this morning, she stood unmoving in the doorway, seemingly incapable of committing even a paw to the scene. I couldn’t blame her, as a nearly unbelievable March 29th snowstorm was wrapping itself up and the out-of-doors could best be described as “raw.” We both looked out at the world a little bit snow dazed.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve received a fair bit of unexpected snow. After a number of freeze-thaw cycles this week to create a rock-hard crust atop that snow, a few of us had planned what we expected to be a spring snow crust-riding snowshoe adventure. Turns out, the adventure was more akin to powder play after a mid-winter snow dump.

(Necessary gear: snowshoes; waterproof, insulated boots; and gaiters)

(Ready to head out the door. It’s 22 degrees F out, but the thick blanket of new snow and lots of uphill climbing will make it feel a lot warmer.)

In light of the obscene volume of snow, all of our possible plans (Including the idea of a 9,000 foot peak early season ascent, nixed again for the second week in a row.) evolved into a romp through the woods.

(About 500 vertical feet of elevation gained here. And, we’re headed UP THERE! The new snow is about 8 inches deep. We sunk down only to that aforementioned rock-hard snow crust. Really, it’s phenomenal snowshoeing.)

At first we tried to follow a few trails, but it was impossible to pick out what should be a trail beneath all the snow. So, we settled for climbing uphill for about 3 hours through trail-less thickets of tangled pine trees and across wide, snow-filled meadows. I don’t know how high we climbed, perhaps close to 8000 feet, but the snow was easily over knee deep up there.

(The northeast view as we came downhill. The elevation is about 7000 feet here.)

(As the day went on, the clouds broke and the sun shined beautifully. Downhill snowshoeing tracks.)

I have an entry from my running log from late March of last year indicating that it was warm enough to run a few miles without a shirt on. While I wait anxiously for those days to arrive this year, I’m just not going to complain about this amazing day, about 4 1/2 hours of perfect powder snowshoeing.


10 Responses to “Snow Dazed”

  1. elizabeth says:

    Hi Megan.
    I snowshoed today in SW Montana also, great day!
    How do you like your Atlas running snowshoes? I have a pair of Atlas, but not the running kind. They work fine for hiking, but I’m looking into getting a pair for running. The other two brands I am looking at are Northern Lites Elite, and Crescent Moon Gold 12,

  2. Audrey says:

    i totally just put my snowshoes in storage last week!!! your weather sure is extreme there!!! beautiful pics. and my god, 4.5 hours of snowshoeing!?!?! snowshoeing is SOOO hard!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Beth says:

    Oh man – I totally don’t know how you do it Meghan!! All that snow!! But you have a perfect attitude and made the best of it with a great day of snow-shoeing!! Yeah!! Hope your snow melts sooner or later and you are wearing shorts running again!

  4. Backofpack says:

    Sounds like you made the best of it with all that snow! I’m ready for shorts and a tank. Any day now would be good!

  5. Danni says:

    Wow that looks fantastic!

  6. Meghan says:

    Happy Sunday! Whew, I’m exhausted after a full weekend of activity. I hope you all had a great weekend, also.

    Elizabeth- Thanks for commenting! It’s nice to “kind of meet” another Montanan! I’m a relative snowshoeing newbie, as I only got into the sport last winter. I can tell you what I like and don’t like about my snowshoes, having used them for both running and hiking on groomed, packed ungroomed, and total powder surfaces (I raced once in them, but if I were to get into racing, I would buy a racing snowshoe.). I like that the binding system is simple. I get good traction on hard snow/hills with the v-shaped traction devices. I get decent float on powder with the amount of surface area. I like their spring-loading system, as it flips the shoe back up after toe-off with no added energy on the user’s part. My only wish is that the backs were a little more tapered, as I have narrow hips and I get a bit of overlap when I’m moving at a good pace. The faster you move, the closer your foot plants towards the body’s midline. With these snowshoes, the tail will clip the front inside of the other shoe when I plant my foot. It’s never tripped me, but I do hear them clicking together sometimes (If you enlarge the image on my blog, you can see wear on the front inside of the frame from the tail clipping them.). Good luck with your buying decision!

    Audrey- You’re telling me about the weather. Good grief!

    Beth- I’m patiently waiting for shorts weather. I mean, it’s April in two days!

    Michelle- You and me both! I’ll bet you’ll be sporting the tank top before me, though! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Danni- Thanks!

  7. JeffO says:

    Wow, you’ve been busy!
    The only snow visible from Moab is in the La Salle range.
    The winds Sunday have been possesssed and huge clouds of dust and sand are billowing. Tumbleweeds, some as big as a VW Beetle, are blowing everywhere! I hit one on the highway (Sure hope that tumbleweed had insurance ‘cuz I didn’t stop.)
    But nothing stops the indominant Meghan!

  8. jeff says:

    i’ve got atlas shoes, too! and i think the same OR gaiters! we’re twins! give me a couple months and i’ll have pony tails, too!

  9. elizabeth says:

    Thanks Meghan!

    I’ll look into a pair of racing snowshoes. Although, I’ve been snowshoeing the last 3 days and my hip is feeling it, so I’ll have to take a break.

    Do you backcountry ski much? I have a pair of skinny x-country skis for tracks, but next year I really want to do some backcountry skiing, I guess they call the wider backcountry skis, Alpine skis.

    I’m a dork when it comes to technical equipment, I prefer to just put on some running shoes and hit the trails. Not easy to do during Winter in Montana.

  10. Meghan says:

    JeffO- Wow, as big as a VW Beetle? I’m surprised it didn’t do some damage. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Jeff- Twinned from thousands of miles apart!

    Elizabeth- Take care of your hip, fast recovery! Leave your email if you like, and we can chat more about gear and such. ๐Ÿ™‚

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