Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wood and Rawhide Snowshoes

There seems to be no doubt that bindings-or what holds the feet to the snowshoes-are the most controversial part of the whole apparatus of snowshoeing.

William Osgood and Lesile Hurley, The Snowshoe Book, 2nd edition, 1975


16 inches of snow at 5am and an inch fell in the hour that I took the dogs for a walk this morning at 7am. Josey is bugging me to go out and play in the snow as I write, I guess I should strap on the old Indian webs.

The snowshoes on the left are the Huron/Maine/Michigan style, as you can tell they are claimed by several different groups of people and the ones on the right are the Alaskan style. The Huron pair I bought 15 years ago and the Alaskan pair my wife got me 13 years ago, I've used them every winter when we've gotten snow. Many people think that these old styles webs don't work in the snow anymore, they say that only modern snow shoes give the best flotation. I disagree, I have snowshoed with people who used the modern shoes, they "post holed" through the snow and I skimmed along the surface. It's hard to beat 6,000 year old or more technology. Snowshoes, or Indian webs as the old timers called them when I was a kid back in the 1960's, were the mainstay of folks who lived were it snowed until the 1930's when the first skiing craze really began. My great uncle told me that when he was 12 in 1912, there was a Swedish immigrant who worked at a nearby sawmill who made skis, or snowshoes as they were called then, for all the kids in the community and sold them to adults. My uncle told me that he got good enough on the "snowshoes" that he could jump logs and fly over 20 feet! He owned a pair of Indian webs to walk the trap line the he operated along Battle and Panther Creeks.


I should have titled this blog, Why Woodwork When You Can Snowhoe. The National Weather Service is forecasting an additional 7 to 11 inches of snow today, gotta love a Winter Storm Warning.

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