Since 2008 I’ve been leading snowshoe classes at the Clearing in Northern Door County. The Jenson Schoolhouse provides a warm and cozy space to meet. The class, “Discover the Clearing on Snowshoes,” is meant to help beginners get comfortable and gain some basic skills on their snowshoes. During this workshop I discuss types of snowshoes, anatomy of the snowshoe, history, utilization as a tool, changes of materials throughout the years, and current use & design. Often, one or two participants bring their own snowshoes and we are able to view the differences in current styles. Sometimes, participants are completely new to snowshoeing. This year I had a participant all the way from New Mexico!
After covering all the basics of the snowshoes themselves, we focus on how to walk and move in snowshoes. We talk about racing, climbing, side stepping, balance, and gait. Before heading outside, we strap our snowshoes on and learn another critical skill: how to fall and get up! We practice until everyone is comfortable, and then head out into the sparkling snow.
We didn’t have much snow this year, but it was just enough to protect our snowshoes from damage. I lead participants along a beautiful trail through the woods. We walked for a while and found ourselves in an area that used to be a clearing. Today, Northern yew, a beautiful evergreen, has overgrown much of the clearing. A large wood-chip pile allowed us to practice how to ascend and descend with different steps on the slopes. We used a herringbone step, kick steps, and more! After practicing all of our steps, we moved back into the woods and walked among the maples and hemlocks adorned with snow. We were lucky enough to flush out a rough grouse from his log and it was an incredible sight to see! After watching him fly off, we continued on our trek and began to make our way back to the schoolhouse.
By this time in our afternoon, everyone’s balance and movement had really improved! With a faster pace, we moved down to the cliff edge to overlook the beautiful Bay of Green Bay. It was a breathtaking sight and certainly one of the most memorable parts of our journey.
I’m honored to be a part of this class every year & even when the ground isn’t covered in as much snow as I hope for, my time in the woods with these folks is always memorable. I look forward to seeing what next year’s workshop will behold!