I have been not so patiently waiting for a chance to try out my new Crescent Moon snowshoes, the women’s version from the Gold 15 Backcountry series. Today I had planned to drive into Philly for yoga and rock climbing this afternoon and a jazz concert tonight, so when it started snowing more heavily than anticipated with not a snow plow or salt truck in sight, I was initially annoyed. After waking up from an angry nap, I realized there were already eight inches of snow on the ground and it was the perfect opportunity!

I was vaguely aware of some trails within walking distance, but I thought they were either on private property or I’d have to go through private property to get to them. Turns out that’s not the case. It’s a jointly owned, unimproved county / township park and where there used to be a house (what I was familiar with) is now trailhead parking. Apparently Ceres Park has over ten miles of trails in it so I’ll have to go back and explore a lot more later. It’s mostly maintained by a local mountain biking group but the trails are multi-use. There has been some drama this year with the county taking down bridges and other improvements the group had made but the future looks promising for the park.

Back to snowshoeing. I put on my winter gear and ran over to the trailhead with my snowshoes. There were some tracks already in the snow but as it was getting late in the day, I didn’t see anyone else still out. I stopped to put my snowshoes on and the bindings were very easy to work with – intuitive and easy to adjust with gloves on. I just had to ratchet the back strap down to lock my heel in, and then pull on one loop to tighten the binding around my forefoot. Then I started off down the trail.

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The snowshoes are so narrow in their tapered teardrop shape that I really didn’t have to adjust my stride much, if at all. I could walk normally and not worry about hitting the shoes together or stepping on one with the other. The binding is mounted to the shoes with a fixed rotation so that when my heel comes up, the shoe follows close behind, and I don’t have any dragging issues. They were altogether very comfortable to walk in, and have three crampons on the bottom of each shoe to provide great traction.

My only complaint for these snowshoes is that they were incredibly noisy. The included paperwork tells me that I can just put some liquid soap between the frame and the decking to solve that problem so I will try that out next time.

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Some other gear I was wearing were my old Montrail boots that I have not worn in a long time since I’ve switched to trail runners, even for winter hikes in snow. There hasn’t been much deep snow locally for a few years though. Still, I thought the boots would be the best option for snowshoes and they still fit and are still waterproof, thanks to Gore-Tex and Bear Guard. I also had on my Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters to keep my lower legs warm and dry.

Finally, I had on my new Sporthill 3SP Saga Tights. They are very comfortable and designed for cold weather, good for 0-40° in temperature and up to 35mph wind. Their stretchiness is great for this type of activity and I stayed at a perfect body temperature the whole time, not overheating, but not getting chilled either. They also dry quickly, which was useful since I was occasionally kicking up snow onto the back of my leg.

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I probably only walked for a mile or so as it was getting dark, and I’d been so excited to try the snowshoes that I’d run out of the house without the ten essentials and I didn’t even have a headlamp. I stayed on trail that I could see others had previously been on since I wasn’t familiar with the trail to know where it went or when it crossed streams, and I had seen a “Bridge Out” sign at the trailhead. It’s hard to tell what could be under eight inches of snow. I look forward to coming back when the snow melts to get to know the trail better. That will probably be very soon as rain is forecast to wash it all away by tomorrow.

These snowshoes are rated for two hundred pounds so I will be able to carry a full pack with them. I can’t wait to have enough snow for a whole weekend of backpacking!

Written by Siren

8 Comments

Susan McLane-Maxwell

I always wanted snow shoes!!! I also thought that cross-country skiing would be a lot of fun, too. Any plans to try that in the future?

It looks like you had a virtual winter wonderland to try your new snow shoes in. What a lovely was to spend a few hours or the day.

Take care, honey, and I hope I get to see you over the holidays.

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Siren

I have not tried cross country skiing before but I’d love to try that too. The only time I tried downhill skiing did not work out that well but I work better at a slower pace. 🙂

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Steve Williams

I feel odd commenting, but I wanted to say I read your blog as you hiked the AT this summer/fall. You were the first thru hiker that my son and I met on the AT on our first day of our 100 mile south to north hike in Shenandoah NP. I think that day, we ended up camping at the Calf Mountain Shelter but you kept going to Blackrock. We flew in from Colorado to do our 100 mile hike as a big event before my son went off to college at the Univ of Colorado in Boulder. When we saw you, we had stopped to take a standing rest for a few moments and you came along. We talked to you about your gear in terms of the weight of it all. Shortly after we were talking, Jungle Jim and OD came along and stopped for a short chat as well. Anyway, when I got back to Colorado, I did a search for blogs for the AT hikers we met (you, Duct Tape, Jungle Jim, Snacks, Rambo, Brother Bear and so on). Yours was the only blog I found and a very good one since you were posting comments for every day. I was reading your blog periodically as you made your way to Katadin. In my early years I hiked many sections of the AT in North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Maine so I could relate to some of the places you passed through.

The reason I am replying to you, is with this snowshoe post, I realize you live in New Jersey fairly close to where I grew up in Runnemede. I was back there this fall staying with my brother in Williamstown to attend a wedding. I drove very close to Ceres Park on my way to Mt Royal for the rehearsal dinner. By the way, your snowshoes are made by a company in Boulder where my son is in school.

Anyway, thanks for your posts, I enjoyed them. I dont really get on here much now as your hike is over. But then I noticed the post about the Grand Canyon (where we have been), and then this about New Jersey. If you ever go to Colorado, I recommend the San Juans down around Durango…incredible hiking. I did a week there by taking the narrow gauge train and hopping off at one of the 2 trail heads. When you come out of the wilderness, you flag the train down so it stops, and catch a ride back to Durango. Awesome experience, very high altitude. Take care of yourself; enjoy your life. steve

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Siren

Hi Steve! I remember meeting you and your son! I’m glad you commented as I love knowing who reads my blog. I think there are a lot of people like you who never comment but followed along the whole time. I actually grew up in Williamstown and my grandmother grew up in Runnemede so I know exactly where you are talking about.

I’ve only been in Colorado once, staying in Boulder one night as I passed through on a road trip, but I hope to get there soon for some hiking, maybe the Colorado Trail this summer. I hope you guys enjoyed your Shenandoah hike!

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Steve Williams

I think my son found the hike fairly easy since he was always waiting for me chugging along. It seemed grueling for me at times, but I wouldnt trade it for a minute. It is a life time memory. My spouse busted my chops for not being in better shape! We were out 11 days. We took a zero day at the Skyland Lodge on day 8 which turned out to be a great day to zero since it rained all day. I was letting my blisters heal. I dont usually get blisters, but I picked the wrong boots for that hot, humid climate. I used boots I had been using for a few years around here. We ended at the 4H center and were showered up before our friends from Charlottesville picked us up. Not counting the zero day, we averaged about 10 miles/day.

The Colorado trail goes from Denver to Durango or vice versa. I have never hiked any of it despite all the hiking I have done around here. You may find it easier than the AT. Usually not much in the way of mosquitos or gnats during the day, and no humidity, and a high probably of no extreme heat especially at altitude. The only issue is the high elevation but at your younger age, you should adjust after a few days. Just drink a ton of water, and enjoy the views. Many more views than the AT since you are above timberline so much. There are plenty of mosquitos when the sun goes down, but you can retreat to your tent. You may have to get down into the trees on some days due to thunderstorms. On some hikes, I have had lightning bolts below where I was watching from. Scary.

If you do plan such a trip and have any logistical questions, let me know. We live in Fort Collins which is way north of that trail. I tend to hang out in Rocky Mountain National Park a lot since it is an easy hour drive away. Way more people in the Park than you would see on the Colorado Trail. I retired from the Forest Service a year ago, so now I have more time to enjoy the state.

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Siren

Thanks for all the information! I do worry a bit about the elevation but I would probably arrive a few days early to adjust. I’ve rarely hiked that high before.

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