This same time last year, I was fortunate enough to visit my son and his girlfriend for a long weekend out in Vail, Colorado. They were working there for the winter months and my son had been assured by his girlfriend that it would be the last time they would winter there.
Knowing I have always wanted to ski at Vail, he urged me to come visit while he could still provide me with a place to stay, free rental equipment and a drastically reduced lift ticket. I didn't have to think long. This was a golden opportunity, so I packed some gear and off I went.
I had never visited Colorado before, but after a few days of skiing, eating delicious food and trying something new — snowshoeing — I was mesmerized. The landscape was strikingly beautiful.
The snow was glorious too, of course. I spent my first 25 years living in California and cut my ski teeth on some pretty big mountains in Lake Tahoe. Vail's slopes were reminiscent of my early days and didn't disappoint, but my 45-year-old legs did; they are too cranky to downhill it a whole day anymore.
On my second day, we went snowshoeing through a beautiful canyon to try and give my aching legs a break. I fell in love with it for the same reason I enjoy cross-country skiing: you can go places where it's quiet and nature is untouched, and where your trespassing doesn't change either dynamic.
When I came home, I told my husband how much I had loved my experience hiking through the canyon and wanted a pair of snowshoes of my own. He looked at me like I'd grown two heads, responding with some nonsense about how we "don't get enough snow around here."
"There's a line on the map Katherine," he explained. "Above it, you need snowshoes. Below it, you do not. We live well below that line."
Really? Because lately, it's starting to look an awful lot like Vail, except we don't have those cushy heated streets or have to pay quite so much for our cheeseburgers.
Ironically, we had a large snowstorm just before Christmas and I mused to myself (loud enough for my dear husband to hear), "Hmm, this seems like a big enough snow to warrant snowshoes. Isn't that interesting, considering we're below the line?"
He would smile and nod, and pretty much hold the party line of "Honey, you don't need snowshoes!"
I know I don't need them, but I sure did want them.
Even though I would mention my desire for snowshoes off and on and my husband would always respond with a heavenward look and a shake of his head, he relented and bought me a really nice pair for Christmas. This is because he loves me. He might even define love, in part, by doing things one finds ridiculous all because it will make one's partner happy.
Friends who knew he had gotten me the snowshoes beseeched him to give them to me before Christmas, so I could enjoy them before the "big" snow melted. He wouldn't budge. Christmas is sacred in our house and we don't give gifts ahead of time, even in extreme, obvious circumstances such as this one presented.
These friends were concerned for nothing, we now know. It has snowed an even bigger snow, with snow on top of that snow.
It goes without saying that on day two of "snowmageddon," I strapped on my snowshoes and took them out for a test drive. I was so excited to finally give them a try, doubly elated that I would also be proving my husband wrong.
To my dismay, I sunk right to my thighs with each step. It turns out, thirty inches of snow is a bit much for my variety of snowshoe, which require either fewer inches or packed snow. I still tottered around in them, taking giant, not-so-graceful steps along the way.
My snowshoes have come in handy for packing down trails and preparing the sledding hill for all the kids, but it's quite a workout in the process.
My lofty ideas about swishing along on top of the snow have been slightly dashed, but I remain undaunted. I shall continue to carve out trails and then, someday before this icy world we now find ourselves in melts, I will be swishing merrily along for as long as I can.
As for my husband — the love of my life — I served him a big steaming plate of crow for Valentine's Day dinner. Ca-caw!