Directions, who needs ’em?

This weekend we went snowshoeing. It was the same place we went two weeks before when the family was in town for a visit, but this time we decided to make it a little more interesting. I’m not sure if you know this but snowshoe and cross-country ski trails are rated with the same system as downhill skiing. When the family was here, we went on the trails that were rated green and blue (easy to moderate), but when it was just us and the dog, we decided that the trails were too crowded. Of course we didn’t see anyone on the trails while we were out there but we knew other people had been there recently and therefore, they were too crowded. Instead, we decided to explore on our own and let the trails behind.

When we started out, we weren’t too far away from the trail, but were able to get into the deeper snow and just explore. This is the thing I like best about the winter equivalent of hiking, there’s no need to stay on trail. After about twenty minutes, we stumbled back on to the trail and followed it for a while to let the dog catch his breath. We then noticed on the map that we could cut through a short section and get into a new area with a different trail to take us back to the parking lot.

We started off trail by going down a slight dip, then it became less slight. Soon, it was steep enough that the snowshoes could ski down the hill a little. We were realizing that we were well beyond the greens and blues by now. As this section bottomed out and we started to go up the other side of the ravine, I was convinced we would be able to see the other trails from the top. This turned out not to be the case, but we were still confident we knew where we were going so proceeded down the other side.

Turns out that this side of the hill was even steeper. Trying to get a footing in the steep snow, I fell over with almost every step. The quick off-trail route was starting to seem like a bad idea and I wondered if maybe we should have looked at a topo map before attempting it, but how would that have been fun? I was starting to remember a few years back when I was working in Roanoke for a week. My friend Brett decided to drive up from Georgia to meet me. Neither of us had cell phones. I told him I was installing an exhibition in the mall and that was all the direction he had to start his eight hour drive. Someone asked how he planned to find me and he just told them that he knew I was in a mall in Roanoke. To the two of us, it seemed like that was more than enough information, but apparently to some people, that isn’t even a start. Well turns out there are (or were) two malls in Roanoke and he found me at the second one, but he found me all the same.

We eventually made it to the bottom of the hill, found the trail and ended up exactly where we had been aiming. It may have been the second valley rather than the first one we went down, but that just added to the adventure. I should probably stick with the trails a little more or find out more about the terrain before diving into the woods, but that just wouldn’t be as interesting.

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