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Annual snowshoe rant - and a bonus at the end

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  • Annual snowshoe rant - and a bonus at the end

    Ironically, I had to click 'New Topic' to start typing this thread, but this is not new.

    Starting now and continuing for many months, you should stop asking the question, "Should I bring snowshoes to xyz mountain?". I'll give you the answer!

    Really short Answer: YES!

    Short Answer: Snowshoes should not be seen as an option in the winter. Consider them safety gear. Bring them, and as my wife says "It builds character!"

    Longer Answer: You never know when you will encounter deep snow. The trip report you read 2 days ago is probably useless in the Winter. Wind can blow a trail back in after only a few hours. Snowshoes provide great traction and balance, and keep the trail well groomed. Post holers are the lowest form of life in the hiking community, even lower than murderers. (Ok, slight exaggeration). As one of our esteemed members rhymed here a while back, "Don't be an a******, don't post hole!" As well as building character, carrying snowshoes will help you develop your back and shoulder muscles, so you can skip arm day and concentrate on aerobics!

    Recently, I followed a bare booter up a mountain. Even though there was only a few inches of snow, I could see that he struggled a lot. He pronated on almost every step (feet out to the side at an angle), which meant he was zig-zagging up the trail instead of going straight up as I was. He was also slipping backwards frequently. Even if he only had to move his feet up 1 inch per step more than I did, he was doing 200 feet of extra elevation more per mile than I was, not to mention the extra distance.

    I never hear anyone ask, "Should I bring a headlamp in the Winter?" or, "Should I bring a first aid kit?", or "Should I bring warm clothes?". Hopefully, someday the snowshoe question will sound just as dumb as these questions.

    Last Winter was (I truly hope!) an anomaly in the Catskills, where I must admit, I never wore snowshoes. I did wear micro spikes and crampons a lot though, but that's a separate rant.

    If you want to search for older snowshoe rants, go ahead, I'll just leave this hear as a reminder.

    And the promised Bonus: We are holding a free Winter Preparedness Class December 3rd, starting at 6:30 PM, in Livingston Manor. For more information, see the Catskill 3500 Club 'Canister'

    Ok, Rant off...
    Last edited by TFR; 01-02-2017, 05:52 PM.
    Tom Rankin - 5444W "In the depths of Summer, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible Winter"

    Proud Member #0003 of ADKHP Foundation
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
    CEO Views And Brews!

    Trail maintainer for the Dry Brook Ridge trail from Mill Brook Road to just past the Lean-to

  • #2
    What he said.


    • #3
      I've never really understood the aversion to snowshoes that seems common place within the hiking community. I get that people don't want to carry any more than is necessary and having good information about current conditions can help in that regard, but it seems that there is much animosity directed towards snowshoes specifically, to the point that some hikers will take any and every excuse to no have to wear them. I've even watched hikers post hole while their snowshoes remain strapped to their pack.
      Last edited by DSettahr; 11-29-2016, 01:50 PM.


      • autochromatica
        autochromatica commented
        Editing a comment
        I don't understand that either. I love snowshoeing, it's easier than hiking.

    • #4
      Originally posted by TFR View Post
      "Should I bring snowshoes to xyz mountain?"
      ​I don't know xyz mountain. Is that in the Catskills?

      ​I do know Nippletop and Dial. I want to hike them tomorrow. Do you think I'll need to bring snowshoes?

      ... I'll see myself out.
      Looking for Views!


      • #5
        Case in point, some years back near the end of the season, my fiend and I set out to hike lone and rocky from Denning.
        At the register there was a sign saying bring your snowshoes there still is plenty of snow in the backcountry.
        My min almost buddy says there no snow here so I'm not bringI got mine I'll manage, his famous last words.
        I can still see him as we closed in on the summit of lone postholeing then laying flat on his belly. While I was walking on top of three ft of frozen snow not even breaking through. He still hasn't learned ! Lol !


        • #6
          I still sink 6-10" into snow while wearing shoes - not exactly postholing, but not dancing over the surface either. Am I doing something wrong?


          • mudhook
            mudhook commented
            Editing a comment
            Maybe eating too much?

          • CatskillKev
            CatskillKev commented
            Editing a comment
            To be happy with your floatation and feel like a real snowshoer, you at times need to be dragging around snowshoes 3 times as big (in square inches per shoe) as your total weight (in pounds). But this thread is not about snowshoeing. Its about trench maintenance. That is why size of shoe is never mentioned, or even given a thought.

          • All Downhill From Here
            Editing a comment
            I guess it comes down to the definition of "posthole". Giant snowshoe-shaped holes 10" deep aren't terribly great to try and walk over either.

        • #7
          Great timing for this post. It is winter in the mountains now. It has snowed and it has been cold for awhile.
          The snow will now just keep accumulating for the rest of the year hopefully. Postholers are lower than low.


          • #8
            Yippeee! Snow!!!
            46/46, 13/46w "I only went out for a walk, and concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." John Muir


            • #9
              As has been insinuated, it is a bit ironic that a large hiker with small snowshoes is looking down on postholers. Of course its a gray area, but it still remains that the masses have never tried snowshoes, and the surface increasing device hikers closest to postholers probably shouldn't be the ones pointing fingers. But, they have the blanket term snowshoer to hide behind. Until now!!

              How about snowsquoosher? Has an accurate ring to it, doesn't it? Jane, you ignorant snowsquoosher.
              I might be kidding...


              • #10
                I have never seen small snowshoes (i.e., 8 x 22) posthole in an existing snowshoe track. In soft snow, even big shoes sink in significantly. That's how the track gets packed.


                • #11
                  I would agree that the small snowshoes work in the social field of a packed trail, but large snowshoes trailless will do the trick better than you suggest. They just may have to be larger than what you think of as large. As I stated earlier, for large snowshoes to really work well, sometimes the surface area has to be 3 times the weight of the user. This is pretty much impossible for someone over 170 pounds and almost impossible, especially given the strength of the average snowshoer, for even medium guys, So, the big guys just give up and go with small snowshoes. Its not snowshoeing, but it is socially what works. So I kind of understand, but still feel like the big guys think they are snowshoeing, when they are really just snowsquooshing. Which is ok, except they have this big attitude towards postholing, which I also understand, but it still is a bit of an exaggerated attitude. In this day and age, the smaller hikers are coming the closest to actual snowshoeing, but they aren't normally going that extra mile to use bigger snowshoes either.

                  Its all a gray area to talk about on a gray day. Mostly snowsquooshing nowadays... For those that have snowshoes twice their bodyweight in surface area, please stand up. I realize no one is standing, but it didn't used to be that way, and it doesn't really have to be that way now, for the smaller hikers. But hikers have traded floatation for traction. I guess the challenge of hiking land on edge has been too much. They don't mind a little sinking to help out the masses. Its just a social style of "snowshoeing" that depends on others to make it work.

                  I kind of like the original premise of snowshoeing that you can go out there and go anywhere because your snowshoes are of a size that basically agrees with what snowshoeing is. Its the freedom of snowshoeing. I guess its a philosophy that is lost on most.
                  I might be kidding...


                  • NorthShore
                    NorthShore commented
                    Editing a comment
                    To match 3 times my weight I'd have to go around on a couple of sheets of plywood. But I agree that the 8x22's are a tough walk through deep powder off trail.

                    10 x 36 (9 x 40?) would be about 2x the average adult male weight. It might be good to own a pair, but they are the wrong shoe for most hikes in this part of the country. And if the trail is at all packed, you get more bite with the smaller shoes. I have a pair of 9 x 34 Tubbs that I have never used.

                • #12
                  Originally posted by CatskillKev View Post
                  I would agree that the small snowshoes work in the social field of a packed trail, but large snowshoes trailless will do the trick better than you suggest. They just may have to be larger than what you think of as large.
                  Every year as winter approaches I think to myself "maybe this year I'll finally invest in a massive pair of old fashioned wooden snowshoes for use off trail (or on trail in areas that get very little winter use). I've yet to actually get around to doing so.... but I have noticed that mountaineering snowshoes especially are not at all well suited to travel through deep, unbroken snow (I'm talking snow that is 4 feet deep and hasn't been broken at at all since the first snow fall) and while carrying a large overnight pack.


                  • CatskillKev
                    CatskillKev commented
                    Editing a comment
                    GV of Canada makes a pricy Wide Trail model in 12x42. This is my go-to snowshoe for new snow. I'm in the 160's somewhere for weight. I can climb pretty much any Catskill mountain with these, but I guess my experience is Eagle/Balsam a couple of times, Rusk, Graham, Lone and Rocky. I typically carry a second pair of small snowshoes with me. These high tech snowshoes are a bit slippery, and the crampon is large, but given the needs, not large enough. They're pretty heavy, about 7 pounds a pair, and slippery enough to actually be fun on the downhill, where you can get twice the floatation, because your weight is cut in half when you're glissading. The boot cut-out/binding opening is bigger than it should be so I added aluminum that makes them even heavier.

                    The price tends to be lower at the end of the season, so the end of the winter is the time to think snowshoes. Its a different experience going where no one goes. Its snowshoeing, and you don't have to go the wood snowshoe/varnish route, although that would be cool too.

                • #13
                  Thanks for the always-helpful reminder, Tom! Nothing worse than coming across a badly post-holed trail in the depths of winter. It's inconsiderate of others AND downright dangerous to folks on skis!

                  Originally posted by TFR View Post
                  Post holers are the lowest form of life in the hiking community, even lower than murderers. [/URL]
                  I know this is hyperbole, but that being said - at least outside the Adirondack high peaks - post-holers are protected by law. Murderers are not.

                  So while we may all agree with the sentiment you've posted, it doesn't actually give anyone a legal basis for harassing post-holers on the trail. Those efforts would be more effectively directed toward the DEC.
                  From every mountainside, let freedom ring.


                  • #14
                    Since this thread has now wandered all over the place, I'll ask a related question - when wearing shoes, how do you keep from getting tripped up by the briars, underbrush, etc? I've done walks on snow-covered fields and backroads, and its fine, but I'd think it would be a nightmare in the woods.

                    If anyone's looking for a good shoe, I have the MSR Revo 25s, review is here.


                    • #15
                      Before this thread starts getting tense (its going to happen. You know its going to happen.) can somebody please post the "Hitler Reacts..." video for snowshoes and post holing? My GD company's internet restrictions are too tight for me to link it.

                      Regarding size and the fundamental usage of snowshoes, CatskillKev has it right. Regarding why most people actually use them in the peaks once the trails are packed...
                      My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.


                      • All Downhill From Here
                        Editing a comment
                        There's an actual fine?

                      • FlyFishingandBeer
                        FlyFishingandBeer commented
                        Editing a comment
                        You could be fined up to $250, at the Ranger's discretion, if caught without them when conditions and/or the DEC site dictate their use.