February 18, 2008
Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column wanting a new pair of snowshoes, pronto. We say this after a short weekend expedition in some deep powder when we floundered in drifts up to our thighs, struggling to stay on top of the fluffy white stuff. We thought snowshoes were meant to stay afloat on the snow, but that wasn’t the case for us. So we’re thinking we need the old-time version. You know, the kind worn by French-Canadian fur trappers during the 1800s, 4-feet long and made from willow branches and woven elk guts. THAT would keep us from sinking deep, we just know it. We’re not sure these can still be purchased, but we know of a few lodges around here where they hang on the wall as decorations, which seems kind of a waste.And while we’re at it, we’re also wishing for some of those groovy and super-warm fur hats, preferably with a foxtail hanging down the back, along with big, fluffy fur robes, maybe made from snowshoe hare pelts. Then we could live out our long-running Jeremiah Jones mountain-man fantasy, living off the land, which could be kinda cool if it means not having to pay rent or mortgage. We’d roam the hills by day, tracking critters and wiping the snot-cicles off our noses with moss from the trees. We’d set out traps and chop through the ice on the rivers to catch trout. At night, we’d hole up in a cozy log cabin (with our dog, of course) and feed the fire whilst sipping whiskey and tootin’ on our harmonica by starlight.In the morning, we’d brew up some cowboy coffee while whittling on a stick and sittin’ and cussin’ and writing in our journal. Ahhh, the good life …Yes, all this came to us as we were tromping through the deep snow on Swan Mountain, wondering why our darn snowshoes were sinking so deeply below the surface. For the second part of the winter duathlon, we headed over to the local sledding hill, thinking it would be safer than venturing out on the slopes during the holiday weekend. For us, that hill is a fairway at a local gold course surrounded by “Keep-Off” signs, which nobody seems to mind. That suits us just fine, seeing as how we have a bit of a lawless streak. Nothing like a little renegade sledding to keep the adrenaline up.What really caught our attention was the fact that we saw a bunch of kids wearing helmets, and they didn’t even seem bummed about it. Now, we haven’t checked the accident statistics as of late, but we’re pretty sure there haven’t been a whole lot of serious head injuries associated with sledding, especially on a wide-open golf course slope, with nary a rock, tree of any other obstacle in sight. OK, there was a fence way down at the end of the run, but you would have to be cruising super-fast to make it that far, and even if you did, you just wouldn’t be going fast enough to do any damage. So is it just us, or are parents getting too cautious these days? We certainly respect the right of each family to make its own decisions when it comes to personal safety. Being parents ourselves, we can relate to wanting to protect one’s offspring. But wearing a helmet while sledding on a gentle bunny hill just seems to be going a bit far, and we’re pretty sure more people get hurt while getting in or out of a bathtub, or crossing the street to catch a bus. ***So we’d like to hear from our readers: Helmets while sledding, a good idea or not? Send a piece of your mind to firstname.lastname@example.org.We out, whittling sticks.