50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #34 – Snowshoe race

20160131_101053 1Because this is the way I roll I got up early after being out at a passion party the night before and did a 5K (actually 4K… thank God!) snowshoe race. I’ve only been on snowshoes a few times but I enjoy it and find it relaxing. It works different muscles than my usual activities and I have a shorter stature which makes it pretty tiring, but I do love it. I’ve heard about the North Face Dirty Feet Snowshoe races before and, when in a crazy year, one must do these types of things.

The race was at Stake Lake and a bunch of friends and I were all going to do it. Originally we were going to do it in costume but we didn’t get that organized. Hopefully next year we can make that happen.


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Crazy things are always better when shared with friends!

The course was a lot more difficult than I expected it would be. The trails at Stake are pretty packed down so shorter snowshoes are fine. The shorter the snowshoe the better they are on packed snow and the worse they are on deep fluffy snow. I chose to wear mom’s snowshoes that are about 4” shorter than mine. After all, the trails are packed… right? Wrong! The course veered off the packed trails and into the deep, two feet in some places, untouched powder. The track was narrow and Jody and I found ourselves in the middle of a pack of about 20 women we didn’t know.

I don’t know one person who didn’t fall at least once on that course. I fell a bunch of times. I would put my foot down and it would slide sideways and down I would go. One woman behind me fell and I turned around to help her up. She was going uphill and her friend was holding her from behind. It was a major effort to get up again.

Lee and Matt, who work in the ticket booth for the ski club cheered us on when we got close to the parking lot – that was sweet. I had already brought them a thermos of coffee so they were probably celebrating how warm and dry they were while I was lamenting how cold and wet I was becoming.

The guys who came in the top three for the 10K race lapped us right near the finish line. One of them, we noticed, wasn’t wearing socks. My boots were drenched from getting so much snow in them when I fell. Trying to get over so they could pass was an obstacle course in itself. For Jody and I, I wouldn’t actually call this racing. It was more like a really fast walk. We were stuck in the middle of the group and the people behind us didn’t want to pass so we were stuck with this pace that was a bit quicker than I was comfortable with.

Towards the end I could smell hot apple cider from the finish area. I think that propelled me forward. When we got to the finish line we weren’t even last (I was shocked!) and they had the best banana bread ever. They also jelly beans. I don’t often eat them but when I do they are heaven! I had been worried about this being super competitive and me coming in last. I realized quickly that it wasn’t like that at all. Everyone was in a partying mood and Jody and I, and all of our friends, agreed that it was awesome. We had a great time.

Why was this crazy?

I was “racing” in a sport I was an extreme beginner at.

Would I do it again?

Oh yeah, next year I might do a couple of them. It was a tremendous workout and a lot of fun. It was a challenge to keep someone else’s pace for that long and still finish with a smile.


50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #25 – Make a Snow Angel

20160103_134905 1Sometimes my crazy things are just reminders that it’s important to be young and remember the joy that can be found in doing things that children do – swinging on swings, hopscotch… the list is endless. If we only did adult things then we get stuck in an adult world and that can be boring, limiting, and it likely means closing the door on joy.

Early in the ski season I saw a snow angel on the side of a ski trail. Just out in the middle of nowhere particularly special. It made me smile, and I tried to remember when the last time I made one was. I couldn’t remember actually ever making one. I must have made them when I was a kid, bundled up in a snowsuit, but I had lost it. That door to childhood was closing. I knew then that a snow angel had to be a crazy thing.

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Jody Lenarcic and I went for a challenging but awesome snowshoe up to the bluffs at Stake Lake on January 3rd. While were out enjoying the sunshine and sparkly white snow (my favourite days) I mentioned it. She looked at me… she has a look… it says “let’s make this happen!”… kinda scary sometimes! As we progressed up toward the bluffs the snow was deep, powdery, and bright white. It was perfect. The bluffs rose above us, basking in the sunshine. The snow was at least two feet deep and it was pristine – completely untouched. We both knew this was the spot!

Setting this up to get good pictures was actually trickier than we first thought it would be. We wanted to get video and photos. The first problem was having me pass her on snowshoes on the deep narrow trail – not a lot of room and it was almost a game of twister but we managed to survive. Next, I had to figure out how to fall backward on snowshoes. They are long in the back so it’s actually kind of difficult to fall backwards. I have no problem falling sideways – I’m a pro at that.

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Basalt Bluffs

Once we got that organized I fell backward into the deep, fluffy snow and flapped my arms and legs. It’s hard to flap in deep, pristine snow, and I learned that snowshoes don’t really flap very well – this had a high degree of difficulty. Once I’d done enough flapping to make a decent angel we realized Jody would need to pull me up so we didn’t disturb the pattern. We spent a lot of time thinking about how we would manage this feat and all the while my butt, back, and legs were freezing and starting to get pretty wet – should have thought of that sooner! Where was the snowsuit of my childhood???

2016-01-03 21.50.14 from Vesta Giles on Vimeo.

When Jody finally got me vertical, and we could breathe again after laughing so hard, we looked down and saw the most perfect snow angel ever. It was awesome! The deep snow really did the trick.

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We made our way back to the parking lot – it was a long snowshoe and we were pretty tired at the end of it, but I noticed I felt just a little bit lighter – not in body, but in spirit. Every once in awhile I picture that angel and I wonder how many people went by on the trail and smiled at the angel beaming up at them. It makes me smile more.

Why was this crazy?

I propped open the door to that childhood energy that dictates we do things purely because they are fun, make us laugh, and just feel good.

Would I do it again?

Any chance I get!