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.
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.
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.
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!