The Snowshoe Fiasco

Note from the Author: All of the pictures in my post today, with the exception of the Pixabay snowshoe picture, are of the hike I was on courtesy of George Mach, an exceptional photographer and friend.

I went hiking in the mountains on Saturday. My friend invited me to hike Spreading Ridge on the Icefields Parkway, the majestic, mountainous road linking Lake Louise and Jasper. There would be seven of us. I was told to bring cleats and snowshoes, as there would still be snow. Temperatures would range from +5 °C at the bottom to -5 °C at the top. It was a two hour drive from Calgary and as we travelled North, the landscape looked gradually more wintery. I’ve never been a huge fan of winter, but in the last number of years, I’ve tried to embrace it more, as it’s an inescapable reality in Canada.

We met others, those travelling from Edmonton, at the trailhead. The sun was shining and the sky was blue, as we strapped on our snowshoes. My snowshoeing knowledge was minimal, as was my experience and this would be to my detriment. I had received a second-hand pair for Christmas and had tried them out once before on flat terrain with no major issues. Once we started going up, it was apparent that my shoes were too big. I couldn’t cinch the binding upSpreading Ridge-1 tight enough around my foot. Consequently, my foot slid around in the binding and the shoes never seemed to land where I planted them. As the incline became steeper, there were numerous places where the shoes wouldn’t bite. The snow was too slushy and often I was walking in place for a few steps, before I could gain some traction. There was one very steep section where I couldn’t get up at all and someone suggested I take the snowshoes off and climb.

I started looking at the shoes of those in my company and noticed they were all the same and very different from my own. Their shoes were much more streamlined and compact with additional teeth running down both sides of each shoe, whereas my shoe only had the requisite cleats at the underside of the toe and down the foot to the heel. Their shoes also had a bar under the heel that they would flip up when they were going up and their heels would rest on that bar and push up against it. This bar was absent on my shoes.

Spreading Ridge-4I’m not a fast climber, no matter the conditions. I go slow and steady and I always make it to the top. Sometimes, I’m at the middle of the pack. Mostly, I’m the last one up. My friend tells me it’s not a race and I take him at his word and do my best and try not to worry that there are others far ahead of me. On this day, I was struggling, dragging these clunky, unwieldy snowshoes up a mountain, not even realizing that these shoes weren’t made for mountain climbing, but for flat ground. While I wrestled with my body and my snowshoes, I recited scripture in my mind over and over. It’s as much a mental game, as it is a physical one. I knew it would get ugly in there, if I didn’t program it myself. Every once in awhile negative thoughts would creep in; “Why do I like doing this?” or “Why is this so hard?” or “I’m never doing this again!” or a stray curse word would bounce around like the ball in a pinball machine. 

By the time I reached the top, I was so fatigued, I didn’t think I’d be able to perform the easy scramble required to get there. I was worried about my balance and felt I might pitch overSpreading Ridge-38 the side when trying to stand, I was that exhausted. My lady friends encouraged me and I was able to join the others for lunch with the most spectacular view, but I was quiet, all the while wondering if the nourishment would be enough to get me back down.

I thought the going down would be easier, but it wasn’t. I continued to slide around. I might as well have been drunk, lurching and careening. I spent more time on my backside or on my knees than my feet. I had so much snow down my pants, I was a walking snow cone. One of the guys stayed with me, encouraging me, which I’m very grateful for, but being that needy stings. I felt humiliated at my inability to do what everyone else was doing.

Spreading Ridge-47

At one point, the people out in front lost the trail and we were forced out of the trees to traverse a steep slope. The guy in front did his best to make a path across the wet snow and the rest of us followed. At the halfway mark, my one shoe sunk in so far, I couldn’t see it anymore, nor could I pull it out. The rest had all made it safely and I was stuck. I tried digging it out, but to no avail. One of the ladies came back and tried, as well, and then left to get one of the men. My mind went to dark places involving plummeting to my death and/or dying of exposure on a mountain. My friend assures me these were crazy thoughts, but when one is exhausted and grappling with fear, the mind goes where it will. I was glad that in the past number of months, I’d read books and listened to seminars encouraging me to question my thoughts and feelings, especially the extreme ones. I called out to God for help. I attribute my ability to stay calm in that situation to the presence of Jesus. I’m so thankful I didn’t overreact in that moment. I was nearing the point of tears, but didn’t succumb. I reasoned that panicking wouldn’t improve my situation, but compound it. I worked at getting my shoe out of the binding, thinking that taking my weight off the snowshoe would solve my problem. By the time more help arrived, I had accomplished this and my friend and I were able to retrieve the buried shoe and get on with the hike. The others had recovered the trail and we were on our way again.

I’ve never been so happy to be done with a hike. I thanked God, as I removed my snowshoes and stepped on to the asphalt near our vehicles. The next day, I consulted the Google regarding snowshoes and finally understood why I had such a difficult time. It’s critical yourraquette-g0e827a405_1920 snowshoes fit snugly no matter what type of land you’re travelling on. A snug fit enables the snowshoes to track straight without swaying, which is what I was experiencing. There are also three different types of snowshoes and one of them is designed to handle slippery, mountainous terrain. These were the shoes those in my cohort were wearing. It turns out that bar called a “heel lift” is a critical piece of a equipment. According to this article from Backpacker, which I encourage you to read, if you’re considering purchasing snowshoes of any kind, this bar, flipped up while ascending, places your foot “in a more natural, flat position while the shoe continues to grip the steeply angled incline. The lifts reduce Achilles tendon and calf strain and fatigue.”

I don’t regret going on this hike and I would do it again, but only with the proper equipment! It was beautiful and hard all at once and that’s life. I saw awesome sights that most people will only see in pictures. I got the most incredible work out and, thankfully, my body recovered quickly. I was able to maintain my composure and, hopefully, not sour the hike for the others and I was humbled by their kindness and patience. They met my need and blessed me. They reminded me that I can’t always do everything I want to do on my own, that I need help. Last, and most importantly, and this happens every single time, I was drawn closer to my Lord, in the toil and sweat, in the camaraderie and repose, in the beautiful ecstasy on the mountain.

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Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to follow me or sign up to receive my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram. Take a peek at my Redbubble store Pollyeloquent.redbubble.com. Thank you for giving me some of your precious time!

A Prayer for Ukraine

I woke and took up your word

And read about the gift you gave

The sacrifice you made to redeem the human race, an endless procession of hapless sinners

One man to save us all

And I stare stunned at the television

Watching war play out before the world

Like it’s just another blockbuster I’m bingeing on

Something to give me a jolt

To make me feel alive

Except it’s no screenplay playing out on my big screen

No calls of “It’s a wrap”, where cast and crew go off to celebrate what they’ve accomplished

While the set is dismantled

No, one man

A real live villain

An aggressive expansionist

A raging thug

Let his fury fly on his unsuspecting neighbors

Desecrating their doorsteps, businesses, and gathering places

With bullets and bombs

Displaying power, wreaking havoc, creating carnage, and inciting fear

And as people flee their homes, their homeland

Looking back in horror and disbelief

Looking forward to confusion and uncertainty

I remember the one man

Not the angry tyrant

But the gentle Saviour, the Almighty God, the Sovereign Lord

And I call out to Him

To explode light into the darkness

To bring the perpetrators to swift justice

To shatter the chaos with peace

To rain down provision and protection

To quell the suffering and grief with comfort, strength, and healing

I pray

It’s all I can do

It’s the best I can do

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Thanks for reading! The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine. The feature pic is a combination and edit of a flower pic of mine with a praying hands from Pixabay. The footer is from Pixabay. Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to follow me or sign up to receive my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram. Take a peek at my Redbubble store Pollyeloquent.redbubble.com (images below) and my clothing design page on Le Galeriste. Thank you for giving me some of your precious time!

Mountains are for Climbing

Many of you know, if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, that I struggle with an eating disorder. You can read more about that here. Lately, with the ongoing threat of Covid and the increased patient load at my workplace (you can read about what I do here), I’ve been succumbing to the urge to rapidly consume the contents of my cupboards, healthy or otherwise. I recently took the important step of booking an appointment to see a professional about my problem. I’ve always been a self-helper. Whenever my behaviours resulted in too many unpleasant outcomes, I would read widely on my issues and adopt new coping strategies. Often, this would produce small, lasting changes, but I’m finally ready to admit that I’ve done what I can and I need another’s perspective and guidance. Continue reading “Mountains are for Climbing”

Embrace the Chaos

After fashioning

A messy bun

One stray tendril

Lithely slithered down

And curled about my neck

I smiled

And left it 

For I am learning

Not to be afraid

Of disorder

Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Feature pic and border by Pixabay . Scroll down to the bottom of the page to follow me or sign up to receive my posts via email. Take a peek at my Redbubble store. Pollyeloquent.redbubble.com. Thank you for giving me some of your precious time!

Impervious: Pondering the Pandemic

Let fear dictate your path and there won’t be a path to dictate.

In 2019, we visited our neighboring province at the end of October. “Why on earth would you do that?” some may ask, as Saskatchewan is not known for being a vacation destination due to its austere scenery. We happened to be on our way back from Manitoba, where we attended a seminar for my husband’s work as a pastor. We decided to take a day and explore Regina. Even though it wasn’t very wintery where I live in Alberta, I decided to throw in my winter wear as a precaution. Canadians know that winter often shows up unannounced, without regard for your preparedness, especially when you’re still sporting shorts and flip flops. On that note, last winter I did something I haven’t done in 20 years. I bought a new winter coat and not just any winter coat, but the mother of all winter coats. It’s a burgundy puffer jacket with a faux-fur trimmed hood that effectively turns me into the lion king. My daughter has informed me that it makes my head look like a shriveled pea, not a very attractive thought, but, let me tell you, I put that baby on and go outside and, despite the cold, I still feel nearly, and delightfully, feverish. Continue reading “Impervious: Pondering the Pandemic”

Mushy, Gushy Spider

I don’t like spiders. I don’t care that they eat mosquitoes. I can kill my own mosquitoes. spider-452489_1280It’s their appearance that makes me half close an eye and shudder. I can’t even look at pictures without convulsing. They’re hideous from afar. Their supreme ugliness is comparable to the most beautiful flower. I don’t discriminate either; the hairy, hand-like Tarantula, the gawky Daddy Long Legs, the infamous, poisonous, big-bellied Black Widow, the nameless house spider with the chunky body and appendages that looks like it does steroids, the little one that jumps at you when you go in for the kill, I hate them all.
Continue reading “Mushy, Gushy Spider”

Nobody Cares

Be bold enough to do more than just leave the house.

I’m remembering a visit to the dermatologist. I had a nasty mole that kept burrowing up through the skin on the tip of my nose, a place, in my estimation, a mole should never be moleallowed to surface. I had it removed previously, but it’s stubborn and wants to be seen. What I didn’t realize until I sat down in the examination room was that the fee for removal had doubled. Unfortunately, at that moment, I had more mole than money and I sat there agonizing over whether or not I should go through with the procedure. When the Doctor came in, I shared my misgivings with him. What he told me has never left me. He basically said, “Nobody cares”. He went on to explain that people are so focused on themselves and their moles that my mole would have to be the size of the Eiffel Tower for anyone to take notice. He graciously allowed me and my mole to leave the office, free of charge, relieved and a little less self-conscious.

Continue reading “Nobody Cares”

Coming Back from the Dread

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

Years ago, I worked as dental assistant. I handed instruments and materials to the dentist while he worked, took x-rays and impressions, and suctioned a lifetime of other people’s dentistry-316945_640spit, but the bulk of my work was cleaning; scrubbing blood and saliva off of instruments, bagging and sterilizing them and disinfecting all surfaces in the dental operatory between patients. I find cleaning grueling and so avoid it, certain that I don’t want to spend my diddly allotment of time here elbows deep in a pail of bubbles and that regret over a spattered mirror won’t haunt me on my deathbed. Consequently, this job was not a good fit for me. Over time, and I lasted almost six years before taking maternity leave, I descended into dread. Every day I had to work, I woke up with it sticking to me like sweaty sheets. There was a brief reprieve on the weekend, but its sour stench returned promptly on Sunday evening whenever I had to work Monday morning.

Continue reading “Coming Back from the Dread”