“Uh, dad…this tastes like plastic!”

What do you do with two kids and a raging case of cabin fever? You go snowshoeing of course! Now I know what your going to say…yes, they are expensive….yes, they can be hard to find…no, it’s a lot of fun to go trudging through the snow! It’s even more fun when you’ve used snowshoes you’ve made yourself!

So I got this idea that the kids and I should make our own snowshoes…ambitious I know, but it has all the makings of a great project! Coming up with a design, material choices and execution…YouTube to the rescue! I found a video that gave a step by almost step instruction on how to accomplish this task. After a quick trip to home depot we had settled into the basement to construct our shoes. The process was surprisingly simple and within a few hours, they were done. The kids enjoyed the build process and were all smiles with the finished products.

A few inches (like 5!) of snow fell over night and the next morning they tried out the shoes. Wow! They actually worked! The kids trudged around the front yard compacting the fresh snow and getting a feel for how they worked!

Later that week we had another snowfall and I decided it was time for a winter hike! Loading up a sled with food and beverages, off we went into the woods! It was absolutely breathtaking. Snow covered the trees and the ground hushing sounds and giving everything a fairytale kind of look. As we hiked down the trail you could just hear the little rapids gurgling under the heavy ice with the creek splashing out of holes here and there, letting you know that it was still flowing under it’s winter covering. The park seemed more alive than ever with tracks in the snow betraying their makers and being evident to the goings on in this oasis of trees surrounded urban sprawl.

The deer tracks were outnumbered by coyote and closely followed by fox running to and fro and criss-crossing the trail. Most were old but some were fresh. Fresh enough that I kept my head on a swivel looking out for hungry predators. We climbed up to a fantastic overlook and rested while taking in the beauty of the frozen woods. After our break we ascended a bit more until the trail began to wind down off the tree line and plunge straight into the woods. We came to a clear, flat open area that is a vernal pond during the summer teeming with life. This day, the only evidence of life we saw were yet more tracks crossing the frozen pond desperate for food.

We stopped at some felled trees who’s stumps made for nice seats and a table to set my stove upon. The stumps were in a bit of a divot opposite the pond and worked well because it gave me the opportunity to teach my two how to hunker down and get out of the cold wind! First order of business was making the hot chocolate. Sure, the packets were a little old…sure it tasted a bit plastic-y but it was hot and it was chocolate and that was all that mattered!

Down and out of the wind, they sipped hot chocolate and ate Pb’n J sandwiches while I heated up a pot of spagettio’s. With now full, warm bellies Noah and Zoe set to doing what most normal children do when unplugged from electronics and released into their native environment…they began to play and use their imaginations! Gasp, imagine that! They ran around, rolled around in the snow, climbed over logs and played with sticks!

The sun was starting to go down and with it the temperature. Gathering our things, we packed out our trash, reloaded the sled and began the hike out. We rested again at that same overlook and watch the shadows of the trees stretch out long and grey over the undisturbed snow below.

By the time we got back to the truck we were plum wore out! Once loaded and inside, the warmth from the heater felt good. We stripped off our heavy outer layers and sat silent for a moment reveling in the heat pouring out of the dashboard! On the drive home we talked about the tracks we saw, laughed about the funky hot chocolate and what a good time we had together!

Enjoying the outdoors is one thing but being able to share it with your children just makes it so much better! I love you guys!

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