On one of this winter’s hikes in the Big Woods, when the ground was covered with less than two inches of snow, I came across the tracks of several other people who had been out in the forest. A couple of those folks had been wearing snowshoes of all things!
Now snowshoes are wonderful things, reportedly invented by peoples who lived in snowy areas of central Asia between 6,000 and 4,000 years ago. Those snowshoes apparently were flat wooden planks; the traditional wood and rawhide snowshoe with which we are familiar was developed from the solid wood types by migrants from central Asia after they arrived in North America.
I’m a big fan of snowshoes, having made five pairs of traditional snowshoes from scratch and re-laced even more sets as explained in an earlier post.
Snowshoes are appropriate whenever snow depth exceeds 10-12 inches and the snow is anything other than extremely light and fluffy, not when there’s only an inch or two on the ground.
Perhaps those folks felt obligated to use the snowshoes they’d purchased, or maybe they’d read some book or magazine that left them with the impression they need snowshoes whenever there’s any snow on the ground. Wearing snowshoes when there’s hardly any snow is an extremely unpleasant and miserable activity – Were they nuts?
Winter’s about half over and now’s a good time to reflect on the cold but relatively snowless winter that northcentral Pennsylvania has had thus far this season. The entire northeast has had cold weather, although the next day or so are forecast to have-spring-like temperatures – unusual for recent decades but just a reminder of how winter used to be. Projections of future snow cover don't bode well for the need for snowshoes in Pennsylvania, or skiing or snowmobiling –
|30 days of Snow Cover from "Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment"|
This winter it’s only portions of North America that have been cold, most of the planet has been warmer than in the past –
Research on the Greenland icecap indicates that the earth’s climate is now warmer than it has been for most of the time modern humans have been on earth. In spite of the cold weather in early January, the warmest years on record have occurred in the last decade – and global temperatures are continuing to rise.
At the same time there’s now an administration in Washington filled with a bunch of people who deny that the climate is changing and have ties to the extractive industries which provide the fossil fuels that are dumping carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere. Are they nuts too?