A severe weather warning was issued for Saskatchewan yesterday. My phone weather app kept buzzing about once every hour to let me know that it was -28 C outside and with the windchill the temps dropped closer to – 40 C. I started ignoring the warning and felt drawn to go outside.
Living in the Buffalo Pound Lake Valley it is somewhat sheltered and wind is not immediately noticeable. After five days in indoors I felt a strong draw to venture outside and explore the turquoise lake ice, something we don’t usually experience during the winter as the lake is generally covered with a layer of snow. With the strong winds for two days prior the snow had been displaced and the ice is once again exposed.
I realized that just walking on the ice would be a bit treacherous, so decided to dust off my snow shoes. The last time I ventured out on snowshoes was three years ago and when I unzipped the little backpack and the snow shoes tumbled out I could not remember for the life of me which way to put these contraptions on my feet. (They never did come with instructions…)
What confused me more than anything was the red numbers. I thought they would be best placed to the outside… on went the snow shoes and after 30 or so shaky steps down a gentle hill toward the lake… I encountered the white fluffy stuff up close and personal. Within a split second I had landed in the snow face first. Embarrassing… I looked around and realized nobody had seen this clumsy attempt at snow shoeing. The good thing about the cold is that the ice fishermen are staying home, so there were no witnesses!
Shaking off the snow and holding on tight to my ski poles I walked three meters and … promptly repeated the earlier tumble. The snow was still cold and didn’t taste like much. That was the confirmation that I must have put the snow shoes on wrong. Finding a place to sit I switched the snow shoes around (as pictured above), numbers facing inward and the fronts opposing each other, which goes completely against this former downhill skier’s experience.
Putting on and fastening snow shoes is not a quick and easy feat…
…but eventually they were affixed to the correct feet.
Wait, snow shoes on, the smart outdoor enthusiast cannot forget to use ski poles to aid balancing . After my initial close encounter with the cold, white, fluffy stuff I wasn’t going to leave these behind.
The single most important outdoor accessory when the thermometer hovers around – 40 C are my trusty mittens purchased during a stay in Yellowknife. The group I visited there shared some valuable outdoor survival tips and these mittens came highly recommended. I have never been more grateful for this advice than yesterday! Yeah, Yellowknife! Those Northern Canadians really know their winter clothing…
…It’s not important to be stylish when it is cold, functionality and warmth top the list!
Off I was, finally! I found myself alone on the lake in the late afternoon sunshine, breathing in crisp, cold air that immediately transformed into snow crystals .upon exhaling and depositing on my wool scarf wrapped close to my mouth and nose. It was fresh, quiet and peaceful and all I wished for was that I could stay out longer than the 45 minutes I managed. Much of that was taken up figuring out the snow shoes.
Scenes like these capturing the ever-changing lake shore is what I appreciate the most. Just last Friday the snow completely covered the rocks and ice, now the ice is exposed and shows how dynamic a landscape can really be. I walked and walked and the thought “Der Schnee knirscht unter meinen Schneeschuhen.” (transl.: the snow “squeaks” under my snow shoes) drove home to me that I have seldom experienced extreme temperatures like these other than from the studio or living room window. I guess I have become a real nature nut…
I am a great proponent for exploring the environment close to home. I do love these winter days (I don’t like the cold!) when I can get on the lake and see a completely different and ever-changing shoreline. Thanks for tagging along to explore the Sand Point Beach shoreline of Buffalo Poud Lake, SK.