Snowshoeing can leave you fit ... to be tied
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Snowshoeing can leave you fit … to be tied

The other day I was browsing the internet hoping to find out what the going price was for a new pair of snowshoes when I noticed several articles that basically suggested that snowshoeing is the new fitness craze. It almost made me want to send those online magazines a photo of me in a swimsuit, just to dispel that horrible rumour.

Don’t get me wrong. There is no doubt it could be a fitness craze. But you could also make a fitness craze out of opening and closing the fridge if you ate only celery. And, let’s be honest, who does that?

To really get fitness benefits out of snowshoeing, you’d have to leave the beaten track, break your own trails and travel for days at an impossible pace for long hours while being pursued relentlessly by a hungry pack of wolves.

In fact, the idea that snowshoeing is a fitness activity verges on being preposterous since these days most snowshoeing is almost exclusively done on hard-packed, well-groomed trials with plenty of breaks for hot chocolate, granola bars and social media posts.

No, the real fitness activity is getting your snowshoe harnesses off and on. If you ask me, that should be an Olympic event.

For this is an endeavour that takes true athleticism. It requires all the horrible, torturous things that are inherent in any good exercise – bending, twisting, using muscles that you never knew you had, touching your toes, stretching, grunting, persevering, wondering why the heck you are doing this, occasionally losing control of bodily functions, and, finally, nailing the landing. And then you have to repeat the process with the other foot.

Snowshoe harnesses are the main reason people resort to cross-country skiing.

When it comes to snowshoe harnesses, I happen to be a traditionalist, which means I swear a lot and then do them up well enough so that they take me 100 yards before I have to do it again. Then, if only one comes off, I will hop on that one snowshoe for as long as I can get away with.

Then again, I was taught to snowshoe correctly – by watching Yukon Cornelius in the Rudolph the Reindeer Christmas show that is on each year.

If that old gold prospector taught us anything, it is that snowshoes are a means of making tracks towards the edge of the cliff you will eventually fall off of when wrestling a Bumble, which, as we all know thanks to Yukon’s ground-breaking research, bounce.

Also, he taught us that you should never take your snowshoes off, presumably for fear of having to deal with the harnesses again.

Just to be clear, I am not trying to dissuade anyone from putting on a pair of snowshoes and going for a long walk – unless you happen to be one of those shut-ins who never leaves their apartment. Then, it can be annoying for the people in the unit below you.

By all means, enjoy snowshoeing. It might not be the fitness craze as advertised, but it is still a means of getting you out of the house and active in the winter, without the embarrassment that comes with wearing those tight cross-country skiing getups.

It is fun, easy to learn and a good way to be socially distant in these pandemicky times. Most importantly, they also provide you with the power to traverse the deep snow off the beaten path to see what a real winter wonderland looks like.

I wouldn’t have a bad thing to say about it, if you didn’t first have to harness that power.

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