The trick with snowshoes is to find a place to walk where you actually need them. When Erik and I first arrived at the Sucker River, we wondered if we were wearing unnecessary encumbrances.
The new fallen snow lay sparkling on the river’s ice bed, billowing over underlying formations and giving way to openings where the water flowed rapidly downstream. Overhead, tall pines framed the deep blue sky and the wilderness beckoned. But although we had the river to ourselves that day, we were hardly the first ones there. A well-beaten path headed upstream, trampled by snowshoes, boots, fat tire bikes and skis.
The good news was that the trail showed us where it was safe to walk. I had no qualms about skirting the watery openings, stopping to peer at the ice bubbles that formed around the edges. Dozens had done this before.
Even on the ice, I could hear the water below, burbling. The sounds accompanied our walk and I stopped frequently to admire nature’s artwork.
We clambered up waterfalls, and as they got progressively steeper I was thankful for the ice teeth on my snowshoes. They were just as useful on the way back down.
Before long, we lost our fellow hikers and the trail narrowed to one set of ski tracks and fat tire treads. When those petered out, only animal tracks crisscrossed the river. Dare we follow them? We made our way to the river’s edge to continue, happy to have our snowshoes.
Sunlight warming our backs, pristine snow and deep silence rewarded us for venturing far upstream. When the river flattened out, the snow depth thinned. We hoped to reach 3 miles inland, but stopped a little short when the ice visibly changed and appeared to be slushy up ahead.
The return trip delivered new views on the banks, different snow and ice sculptures on the river, and deep breaths of crisp clean air. An escape through a corridor accessible by foot only in the winter. And worthy of snowshoes.