Snowshoeing on Christmas

We got fresh snow in Taos on Christmas Eve, several inches on the mesa, a lot more in the mountains, and then a blue-blue sky. I convinced Hank to haul out our snowshoes.

No one in our small neighborhood had left their homes so the only tracks we saw along our road were ours and those made by rabbits and coyotes. We took a left onto an old ranch road, stopping at a shallow hill to catch our breath. It’s over 7,000 feet where we live so the air’s oxygen is thinned out a bit. Plus we were working to break the snow.

Hank and I got the snowshoes years ago when we lived in Worthington, a small town, population 1,400, in western Mass. That winter was a snowy one. On Saturdays and Sundays we headed to Liston’s, the only bar in town, to park in its lot. A network of snowmobile trails filled the woods and a few stopped at the bar, where thirsty riders could stop for a beer or three and some grub.

Our tracks on Christmas

Hank and I strapped on the shoes and walked to a trail head. We learned early on these groomed trails were fine for walking because the snow was packed tight. When we heard the motor of a machine come our way, we hopped off the trail and gave the rider a wave.

Our blood got going on these treks. Even on the coldest days, we slipped off our gloves and unzipped our jackets.

We liked being in the parts of our town where no one lived except for wildlife. There were no roads. I imagine this was how Worthington looked when the first settlers came.

Eventually we made it back Liston’s, where we went dancing weekends. Sometimes we stopped for a beer after our hike on snowshoes. A local might ask, because we wore leggings, if we had been cross-country skiing. No, we answered, we’ve been snowshoeing. The local’s demeanor changed. He said something like, “snowshoeing’s tough,” which translated to, “you’re okay.”

Since moving to Taos, we gone snowshoeing once in a while because of the scant snow on the mesa.

On Christmas we stayed in our neighborhood. We need to carry water and something to eat if we decide to venture on the old ranch roads that cut across the mesa to the Rio Pueblo, where eagles nest in its cliffs. The first snowshoe hike out of the way, we decided that’s where we’re going the next time.


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