Hit the Trails at Your National Parks

July 27th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

From Alaska to Maine, the United States National Parks Service provides protection for epic vistas, pristine valleys, and soaring peaks for our enjoyment. Read below about snowshoeing in three of the nearly 400 National Parks; Denali National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, and Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Snowshoeing in Alaska

DENALI NATIONAL PARK

Covering over 6 million acres in Alaska’s interior, Denali National Park includes various landscapes including forest, taiga, and tundra. In the park’s center, Mt. McKinley towers above, reaching over 20,000 feet in elevation.

During the winter the National Park provides free use of snowshoes. Visitors frequently snowshoe a trail to Mt. Healy, or take a trail to Horseshoe Lake. Another favorite is the McKinley Station Trail, which takes park visitors across the Hines Creek and to a suspension bridge over Riley Creek.

At its lowest, the temperatures can reach -40F to -50F, but the average December temperature is around 7 degrees F, Jan is 3 degrees F, and Feb is 7.6 degrees. One park ranger mentioned, “We really like it when its above zero!”

Couple snowshoeing in Alaska

Snowshoe tour in Alaska

For more information about snowshoeing in Denali National Park, please visit their website linked HERE.

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snowshoeing seattle

MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK

Located in Tubbs’ backyard, and known to natives as “Tahoma,” Mt. Rainier is a part of Pacific Northwest culture. The park that surrounds the volcano offers perspectives of the glaciers hanging on to the granite, and waterfalls flowing from snowmelt. Beyond the landscape, the wildlife is a sight to be seen—black bears, mountain goats, marmots, and pikas roam the meadows.

During the winter, Ranger lead snowshoe tours help new snowshoers feel more comfortable in the wilderness. In the summer, snow sticks around the higher elevations that are accessible to visitors until nearly September. This provides opportunities to snowshoe in shorts and tshirts, and LOTS of sunscreen!

Two Tubbs Ambassadors recently spent time at Mt. Rainier, with great success.

Family Ambassador John S., doesn’t let snowshoeing season stop until all of the snow is gone. He proved this by heading up in elevation, with his three kids in tow. Read More >

Backcountry Ambassador Tim T., flew from Minnesota to successfully summit the 14,411 ft. peak. He shares his determination and experience on our blog. Read More >

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Sandshoeing snowshoes

GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK

Containing the tallest dune in North America, Great Sand Dunes National Park is located in Southern Colorado and covers almost 85,000 acres. Considered a “high desert,” temperatures reach 100°F in the summer, and dip below 0°F in the winter. Dig just a few feet down, even at the top of the dunes, and you’ll find wet sand!

Snowshoeing on the snow-covered dunes in the winter provides sweeping views of the mountains in the distance, but our Ambassador Kathy decided to take her family to the dunes this spring, for an attempt at “sandshoeing.” Read about their fun HERE.

Great Sand Dune National Park

Snowshoeing in Summer

July 23rd, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador

Authored By John S., Family Ambassador

Psst. Want to know an honest-to-goodness Pacific Northwest secret? Keep it quiet because they might kick me out of the state if I tell you. The truth is… you can snowshoe all year long out here. Yeah. Even in Summer.

As long as you’re willing to chase the snow there’s snow to be had. It can be a lifesaver when the temperatures here skyrocket into the 80s. (Once, we even had a high temperature of 90 degrees! And you thought it rained all the time in the Northwest.)

By far the easiest snow to access, not to mention the most scenic, is in Mount Rainier National Park. There are two visitor centers located high on the mountain that have snow or make access to snow much simpler.

Sunrise is in the northeast corner of the park. It’s the least developed of the two high elevation visitor centers and doesn’t open to the public until late June or sometimes July. When the snow covers the meadows you can make your own trail up to the ridge to look into the basin on the other side. That is, if you can take your eyes off the Mountain itself.

From the ridge you can hike toward the mountain to join a network of trails including the Wonderland Trail that circles the peak over 93 miles. Some easier, but still magnificent destinations include Frozen Lake, the Fremont Lookout, or the three peaks of Burroughs Mountain. All have amazing views as well as their own special features. Be on the lookout for hoary marmots and mountain goats.

On the south side of the park is Paradise. With year-round access and a great visitor center (not to mention the Paradise Inn open during the Summer) it’s where first time visitors should start. Paradise gets about 641 inches of snow each year that lasts well into the summer. (Yes, that’s more than 50 feet of snow!) Until the meadows melt out the snowfields close to the visitor center are covered with visitors enjoying the novelty of snow.

Snowshoe up only a few hundred feet and the crowds thin almost to nothing. Climbers make their way toward Camp Muir, about 5,000 feet higher on the mountain, or train for glacier travel on the safer slopes. You wouldn’t think such a short distance would make a difference, but the views get better with every step. And for every foot you climb, that’s a foot you can glissade. Just remember to take off your snowshoes before you slide down.

Glissading Mt. Rainier

Even late in the summer you can find snow by packing your snowshoes up the trail from Paradise. Pass by the amazing displays of wildflowers in the meadows until you get to the snow. The Muir Snowfield has snow all year long and provides unmarred intimate views of the southern face of Rainier. (If you start up the Muir Snowfield you need to be prepared. WTA has a good route description.)

Make sure you have sunglasses, plenty of sunscreen, and dress in layers. Weather can move in quickly so you’ll need warm layers in case a storm hits, but also t-shirts when the sun comes out.

As good as they sound, beware these trips. They’re so good you’ll find yourself pushing higher and higher on the mountain. Before you know it, you’ll be climbing for the summit like Backcountry Ambassador Tim. When you go, make sure you do your Tubbs proud.

 

Inside Scoop: One Intern’s Insight to Tubbs

July 14th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

Tori H., Marketing Intern

To all you snowshoers and hikers -

I’m Tori, and I’ve spent the last few months of college working as a marketing intern with Tubbs Snowshoes.  It’s been a blast working with the marketing team, and having the opportunity to connect with awesome people like you in the outdoor industry!

Here’s how my days typically went at Tubbs, along with a few things I learned:

9:00am – arrive at the office – with coffee in hand – our headquarters are in Seattle after all!

9:00am-noon – I worked on various projects with the marketing team – anything from attending meetings, writing press releases, monitoring social media, or connecting with brand ambassadors.  It was really great getting to work with other people who love the outdoors and snowsports as much as I do, which made our projects fun and collaborative.

12pm – lunch break – there were plenty of opportunities for Tubbs team bonding, and a few of our lunch breaks included skating on Alki Beach nearby or watching the World Cup games at local restaurants. (There’s also a trampoline and a gym in the Tubbs warehouse!)

12pm-2pm – since I was only at Tubbs part time while I finished school at the University of Washington, I typically left around 2pm. The later half of the day I had more time to work on my own projects for the brand. One of the most fun things I got to work on was planning a group hike for National Trails Day. We got together a group of brand ambassadors and friends to represent Tubbs at Lake Serene in the North Cascade mountains.

My time at Tubbs really gave important meaning to my college experience and prepared me with some essential skills for my future marketing career within the outdoor industry. Connecting with people who share my love for the outdoors is definitely something that energizes me to go to work everyday, and it brings energy into the industry. I think it’s safe to say that one of the prerequisites for working at Tubbs is a love for snow and the outdoors.

Even though my career in the outdoor industry is just beginning, I’m looking forward to mixing my work with time outside and bringing energy into the things I’m already passionate about – spending time in the mountains with awesome people!

Tubbs Snowshoes Marketing Intern

Thoughts on Mt. Rainier

July 6th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

Authored By Tim T., Backcountry Ambassador

Successfully summiting Mt. Rainier seems likes a daunting, near impossible endeavor from the flatlands and “thick air” of the Midwest.  Literature, blogs and the wisdom of those we spoke to who had been on “The Mountain” suggested that if the weather cooperated there was always the clear reality of succumbing to AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and having to turn back short of the summit. Yet there it stood. Silently waiting, enticing the adventurer to try, regardless of state of origin.

Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador Mt Rainier

So the Midwest crew was assembled, training plans were set and executed but in the back of our minds, as we had heard so many times, we knew there was truly no adequate way to train for the difference in elevation. We could only hope our mental fortitude would make up the difference and get us up—and safely back down!

The four of us arrived in Ashford in mid-June, drank a few beers, talked a little smack but, on training day laced up the boots in all seriousness. This day was well spent time in understanding what we could expect to see on the mountain as far as slope, crevasse crossings, rope travel, etc. We also had the chance to meet the other half of our 9 person team which was of semi-concern as we would undoubtedly be “roped up” with complete strangers during the most dangerous parts of the climb. The day also served its purpose in calming the nerves. I find taking physical action is the best remedy to slowing the mind from creating all kinds of potential untruths, and this is a strategy I employed throughout our trip.

Departure for the climb itself came quickly and we found ourselves on the shuttle to Paradise (~5400 ft.). Less nervous now but still full of anticipation, I felt like a race horse at the Kentucky Derby, being held by the gate but completely focused and ready to run! I was happy to feel the weight of my pack and let the slope of the mountain and my legs be the cause of the increase in heart rate. We reached Camp Muir (~10,300 ft.) without incident, for me somewhat tired but not exhausted. This was obviously encouraging and I mentally reviewed my training plan. Maybe it wasn’t as inadequate as once thought however, I knew deep down inside the Muir Snowfield was nothing compared to the upper mountain.

Tubbs Ambassador Summits Rainier

Based on reading that Camp Muir had a capacity of 110 climbers I anticipated it would be highly populated. In reality it was busy but not really over crowded, especially for a beautiful weekend in June! The climber’s shelter was a trip, big enough to fit 18 climbers shoulder to shoulder in sleeping bags, little room to sit and a shelf to hold hot/cold water. It created an interesting experience the night before the summit attempt as we all, all 17 climbers, laid down to sleep at 6pm. I didn’t sleep a wink but some (of the lucky ones) managed to catch intermittent periods of shut-eye. With 17 climbers it seemed at least one was always on the move: shuffling gear, peeling off layers, drinking water, running to the head. Every time a flashlight went on I thought the guides were coming in for the “morning” wakeup call. This actually occurred at 11:30pm. Game on! We had one hour to eat, take care of business, load the packs, gear up and clip into our rope team.

We started the climb on time: 12:30am Monday, June 23rd. Everyone was pretty much silent as we left in total darkness, a result of nerves and anticipation I’m sure. We only heard the sound of our ice axes scrapping the snow, our crampons crunching on the frozen ground and the site of headlamps scanning the mountain side out in front of us. As we moved on through the night, time and spacial awareness seemed to disappear; just the focus on the placement of each foot step upon the steep grade in the glow of our headlamps seemed to matter. The best time marker was seeing the sun on the horizon and with it the summit came into view. I knew then there was enough gas in the tank to reach the top and get safely back down. I also then realized just how massive and steep the upper portions of Mt Rainier are. We continued climbing through the early morning hours, stepping over several crevasses, clipping into anchored ropes in the steepest sections and finally, after six and a half hours of climbing, at 7am, Monday, June 23rd, we were standing on the summit of Mt Rainier! The summit is amazing! One can immediately identify that Mt Rainier is in fact a volcano. The crater is unmistakable. Part of our crew elected to take a rest break near the crater rim while the rest rambled across the crater and up to the official summit, Columbia Crest (14,410 ft.).

Sunset

We spent about 40 mins on the summit in total and then had to start moving down before the day heated up and the snow pack softened. The way down was much more difficult. Each step seemed to need more care and control or, maybe now that we could see our surroundings better, we stepped more carefully, fully understanding now the consequences of falling. We made it though! At noon we were back down at Camp Muir. We had one hour to eat, pack up our remaining gear (sleeping bag, etc.) and rest before starting the final leg back down to Paradise. We reached the parking lot without issue around 4pm. Our mountain experience was over, safely. The shuttle ride back to Ashford was similarly quite, now not due to nerves, just exhaustion.

TIMELINE

Sunday 6pm: Bunked out

Sunday 11:30pm: Wakeup call

Monday 12:30am: Climb starts at Camp Muir (10,300 ft.)

Monday 7:00am: Summit reached (14,410 ft.)

Monday 12:00pm:  Back at Camp Muir (10,300 ft.)

Monday 4pm: Back at Paradise (5400 ft.)

TRAINING PLAN

I trained for Denali to climb Rainier, that was the original plan anyway. I’d say I reached about 65% of that goal so felt I could have trained better. Training consisted of 5-6 days per week: Cardio (T-mill @ 15% grade, biking or swimming), 30-40 mins of Weights after Cardio, At work climbing 9 flights of stairs with 40 lb. pack 3 times per day, Cutting the lawn with 40 lb. pack and monthly backpacking trips in winter with 40 lb. pack and snowshoes.

 

CONTEST: Camp like a Champ

July 2nd, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

Enter for a chance to Camp like a Champ with two (2) Tubbs Snowshoes camp chairs, and a 2-Burner HYPERFLAME Stove from Coleman!

Camp like a Champ Giveaway

Coleman 2-Burner HYPERFLAME Stove

How to enter?

  • Simply use the contest widget below to share your best camping tips
  • Extra entries can be earned for following Tubbs Snowshoes on Facebook and Twitter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Great Sand Dunes National Park — attempt at sandshoeing!

June 30th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

Sandshoeing

Ever since I moved to Colorado and heard about the Great Sands Dunes National Park and Preserve, I’ve wanted to go there and see this marvel for myself. The thought of all that sand in the middle of Colorado intrigued me to no end. Several months ago, we decided time was awastin’ and we put our reservations in for the campgrounds for three days in June. Then finally, this past Father’s Day weekend, my husband, John, and I, our son, Shawn, daughter-in-law, Julia, and granddaughter, Jillian, and Dexter the dog, packed up our gear – including snowshoes – and headed west!  Snowshoes?  Sand dunes?  What?

Yes, we packed our snowshoes with the intent to extend our snowshoeing season and try out SANDSHOEING!  Fun!

As we approached the Sand Dunes from the west (we had to circle around the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to get there from Cañon City, our home), I was not initially very impressed. Sure, there was a mound of sand where there probably shouldn’t be – sand belongs at the ocean to the mind of this native Jersey girl – but the dunes didn’t look all that big.  Initially.

Once we had our tents set up, gear stowed where it needed to be, food safely stashed in the provided bear boxes (yes, bears live there), and dinner consumed, we took a reconnaissance hike to see what we were getting into for the next day’s planned trek. That’s when my initial nonchalance about the Sand Dunes was blown away. “Blown away” was also a literal thing that weekend as the wind was strong and almost relentless! These things are HUGE!

Anyway, by the time we reached the edge of the Medano Creek and stood at the foot of the Sand Dunes, I was in total awe. The dunes were hugely high, massively long and ridiculously steep! As we gawked in wonder and the sunset cast shadows in the sandy ripples, I could not wait until the morning’s fun to begin.

We had a particular spot in mind for our adventure, so headed up the Medano Pass Primitive Road early. This alone was an experience as it requires a high-clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle and you actually have to let some air out of the vehicle’s tires to navigate the soft sand and creek crossings. Once we parked the car, Jillian with some whoops and hollers ran down the hill and across the Medano Creek to stand at the base of the dunes. From our vantage point at the car, she looked like an ant at the base of a very, very tall anthill. We adults unpacked our gear for the day from the car and followed her as quickly as we could.

strapping in

Once we caught up with Jillian who immediately started to scramble up and slide down the ever shifting sand, Shawn and I decided to try out our snow/sand shoes. Since I had my Tubbs, it took me next to no time to be locked in and ready to go. Shawn was trying John’s Tubbs’ for the first time and thanks to the easy strapping system was right behind me.

My first few steps onto the dunes had me grinning. “Oh yeah! This was going to be fun!” However after just those first few steps, that optimism changed to: “Uh-oh, this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it would be.”

Sandshoeing

At home, I had reasoned that the larger footprint of my snowshoes would help me to “float” above the sands better. Once on site at the Sand Dunes, I found that floatation was not going to be the problem while attempting to climb the dune. The Sand Dunes are, for the most part, very steep with about a 60 degree angle AND that angle is not a solid surface but a constantly downward-moving slippery surface. Unlike on snow/ice, there is no purchase to be gained with even the aggressive crampon-teeth of the Tubbs Snowshoes. And, thanks to the shifting sands, the snowshoes even while standing still, quickly got covered with sand and became ridiculously heavy and almost impossible to lift up for any forward motion.

Less than 20 feet up the 500+ feet dune, I was exhausted, on my knees and defeated. There went my summit bid! Turning around and going back down brought its own set of challenges. I had to try and extract one snowshoe at a time from under 3-4 inches of sand that had been buried by the still shifting sands, turn it to point downhill and then do the same for the other snowshoe without getting twisted into a human pretzel. I’ve had the same experiences in snow, but, let me tell you, sand is way heavier! The upside to sand vs. snow, is sitting in the sand while trying to extricate myself is a lot warmer than sitting in wet snow! The downhill “slide” did go easily as the snowshoes acted almost like skis with the traction being negligible.

Great Sand Dune National Park

John, Julia and Jillian having watched Shawn’s and my struggles, never even bothered to put on their snowshoes and just resorted to crawling up the dunes on their hands and knees, towing plastic sleds and careening down the dunes until they unceremoniously bale out before hitting the Medano Creek. Shawn and I joined them and had a blast the rest of the afternoon doing the same.

Dang!  After all this time, anticipation and preparation, was I not going to sandshoe?

If I am nothing else, I am stubborn (ask my husband!). So, the next night when we decided to go on a night hike on the dunes, I was the only one who carried my snowshoes with me in the faint hope I might have better luck at another location.

sandshoeing defeat

This trek was up a much less steep section of the dunes down closer to the valley floor. It was still too steep and unstable for climbing in the snowshoes but we did get up high enough to reach a small plateau. That’s where I unstrapped my snowshoes from my backpack and quickly put them on my feet. I love how easy these Tubbs are to slip on!

I’d love to tell you how I powered past the rest of my family while gliding around gracefully on the sands, but alas, that was not the case for me.

I was fine walking slowly and carefully and did stay above the sand for a while but, unlike when in the snow, if I so much as bumped the tip of the snowshoes into a ridge, I would stumble and fall in a very unladylike and ungraceful way. The sand ridges are unyielding and as it was dark and I’m very visually-challenged in the dark, I bumped into, probably, every other ridge of sand! Thankfully, it was dark enough that no one saw every one of my falls, though they certainly heard them and were tactful enough to not razz me about my attempts to sandshoe.

Double Dang! I had to admit defeat ON THIS TRIP! I definitely plan to try again, on another day and on another part of the Great Sand Dunes.  I know that others have tried sandshoeing and reported success and would be anxious to hear how and where they sandshoed. Advice, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

 

 

Trail Mix Trio

June 27th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

Keeping your energy up during long treks is important for your health and performance. Trail mix is a popular way to munch your way up the hill, and make it back down. Packed with a nice balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, trail mix is also extremely versatile and can fit your personal taste!

Below you’ll find three trail mix recipes that we love. Be it sweet, savory, or for those following a Paleo diet, you’re sure to enjoy one of them!

trail mix recipe perfect for long hikes

  • MIX ALL INGREDIENTS
  • ENJOY

 

savory trail mix for long hikes

  • PREHEAT OVEN TO 360º
  • MIX ALL INGREDIENTS
  • BAKE 5 MINUTES
  • ENJOY

 

Paleo Caveman Diet Gluten Free

  • PREHEAT OVEN TO 360º
  • MIX ALL INGREDIENTS
  • BAKE 5 MINUTES
  • ENJOY

10 Best Summer Hiking Trails in the US

June 23rd, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

The snow may not be lining our favorite trails anymore, but that doesn’t stop us from adventuring outside! From alpine lakes to red, rocky canyons, we love to get on a new trail and enjoy what nature has to offer. Take a look at 10 of the best hikes in the United States:

Tubbs Snowshoes 10 Best Hiking Trails in the US

Maroon Bells, Snowmass Wilderness, Aspen, CO
Trail Info Here 

 

Tubbs Snowshoes 10 Best Summer Hiking Trails in US

Vernal Fall, Yosemite National Park, CA
Trail Info Here 

 

10 Best Summer Hiking Trails in US

Grinnell Glacier, Glacier National Park, MT
Trail Info Here 

 

10 Best Hiking Trails in US

Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park, VA
Trail Info Here 

 

10 Best Hikes in the US

Precipice Trail, Acadia National Park, ME
Trail Info Here 

 

Top 10 Hikes in US

Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, WA
Trail Info Here 

 

Top 10 Hikes in US

Long Trail, Jay Peak Long Trail North, VT
Trail Info Here 

 

10 Best Hikes in US

Eagle Mountain, Boundary Waters, MN
Trail Info Here 

 

10 Best Hikes in North America

Corona Arch, Moab, UT
Trail Info Here 

 

Top Ten Trails in United State

Olomana Trail, Oahu, HI
Trail Info Here 

 

 

National Trails Day

June 13th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

Group of happy hikers snowshoes
 
Tori Hartman, Guest Writer

Hey Tubbs Hikers!

Even though we said goodbye to winter a while ago, our passion for the outdoors didn’t just melt away with the snow. We’re always looking for opportunities to get outside and go on new adventures as often as possible, and this weekend we celebrated National Trails Day!

To show our support for the American Hiking Society and the awesome trails that allow thousands of people to get out and explore the mountains, Tubbs Snowshoes planned a group hike to Lake Serene, WA on Saturday June 7.

National Trails Day began in the ‘80’s to bring awareness to the 200,000+ miles of trails across the country that give people access to the natural world. It takes place the first Saturday of June every year, and anyone is welcome to organize an event to get outside.

Tubbs brand ambassadors gathered with friends, families, and one dog, for a beautiful 8 mile hike. We wore our custom-designed National Trails Day shirts and brought along some Tubbs hiking poles for support on the trail. We began the trek by crossing streams and fallen logs, and stopped at Bridal Veil Falls about 2 miles into the trail. Cascading water sprayed a mist our way, providing a brief refreshment before we started the more arduous portion of the hike. We tackled switchback turns and a 2,000 foot elevation gain—definitely a great early summer workout!

The kids in our group—ages 12 to 7—had plenty of energy bouncing up the trail and greeting everyone with a cheery “Happy National Trails Day!” and a high-five!

Our group arrived at Lake Serene with cheers of delight—what a beautiful alpine oasis tucked into a basin just below the peak of Mount Index in the Cascades Mountains. The crystal clear water reflected the gorgeous sunny skies and the remaining snow banks on the side of the  mountain peak.

A giant lakeside boulder made a perfect spot for a sunny lunch break, and the peaceful setting gave us a chance to appreciate spending time with other outdoor adventurers as a refreshing break from the busy city life in Seattle.

We’re looking forward to plenty more Tubbs hikes in the future- we’ll see you in the mountains this summer and next year on National Trails Day!

Spring alpine meadow

 

Tubbs snowshoes ambassadors

 

National Trails Day

 

Board walk north cascades

Snowshoe Photographs

June 9th, 2014 - Posted by tubbs snowshoes

Authored By Rich K., Day Hiking Ambassador

An impenetrable sky of pallid blue has collapsed upon the mountaintop, and the snow has rendered rock indistinct from cloud. This is a snapshot of December 2013 captured at the summit of Hunger Mountain. The nearby town of Waterbury, Vermont is lost in the storm, three thousand feet below.

Snowshoe Photographs Vermont

The month is now May, and in a sky of solid blue a spring sun holds without interruption. The cool of the morning dove has given way to the short chirps of finches and the alien resonance of the cardinals, interrupted periodically by the sound of an airplane overhead. The spring bloom is imminent, and the anticipation of its arrival seems to be all the birds are talking about. I am sitting in the shade of my porch, looking over old snowshoe photographs.

Pictures. In his writings on conservation Aldo Leopold described a photograph as a ‘trophy.’ “It attests,” he wrote, “that its owner has been somewhere and done something…These connotations which attach to the trophy usually far exceed its physical value.” There is truth in this definition, for without these photographs there would be no testimony to my December trek up Hunger Mountain but my own fading memory. These photos are taken neither with the highest skill nor with the best equipment, and were I to demand a market price for them, I would find the buyers lacking. On the hard drive of my computer they are digitized possessions without monetary value, important as a demonstration of the experience from which they were derived.

Snowshoeing Vermont

My photos are replete with the “summit pose,” arms raised with a landscape background, standing one foot in front of the other atop a high point. These photos are my trophies from my many excursions into nature. Likewise trophy-seeking lies at the heart of the photo ‘selfie,’ which can be defined as any photo one takes of oneself. The selfie emerges out of an absence of other individuals, forcing the merger of photographer and photographed to mark an occasion or accomplishment. The selfie I am now looking at is of me at the top of Hunger, bulged by two winter coats, hat crusted in frozen snow. My eyes are narrowed against the wind, and they impart to me a stern look.

The fact that I refer to these photos as ‘trophies’ should not be taken to mean that I think they are inherently negative. They are, as Leopold wrote, “the prerogative of youth…and nothing to apologize for.” Whether a landscape is photographed ten or one hundred times is of no consequence; there is no negative effect to the landscape. “The camera industry,” concluded Leopold, “is one of the few innocuous parasites on wild nature.” The action of taking a photo is the sole mechanism by which an individual can engage in trophy-seeking behavior without negatively impacting the corresponding environment. For this reason I always pack a camera.

Snowshoeing Photographs
But there remains a greater value in our snowshoe photographs, and we must move beyond Leopold’s definition of trophies in order to find it. Short of video, photography remains our best attempt at mimicking reality. It is a poor imitation. The photos are limited by the camera’s field of view, megapixels, and light sensitivity. Absent from the still images are the wind and the cold. There is little of the physical challenge of reaching the top, and once up there, even less of the camera’s initial failure to operate in the cold. Like a bit of flash fiction, photography is limited in spectrum and scope to that which is most restricted and immediate, and in so being, the outlying infinite is lost. The shutter falls, and all that remains is what can be gathered toward it in a few brief milliseconds.

Yet when I look at these images, I do not see their limits. Instead I see only the mountain, and I remember. I recall how the snow squall washed in from the west, obscuring Waterbury beneath a roll of gray. I remember watching as windows of blue sky wisped in cloud like phantoms, wraiths portending messages, fleeting, and lost. I remember the way the krumholtz spruce bent from the gusting wind, and the way I bent into it. I remember being cold when I took my gloves off in the direct summit snow to operate the buttons of the camera. I remember wanting to stay and knowing I could not.

Snowshoeing snow storm
Like a runaway fusion reaction image collides with memory to become something far greater than either alone could be. A photograph is insufficient to form an event, as is human recollection. Together they comprise an experience. I look back further in my photographs to December 2012, to a snowshoe trek up Hunger Mountain occurring almost a year before the last. In these pictures the same location is presented as an altogether different landscape. A quilt-work of snow-covered mountains and valleys is unfurled beneath a high gray shield of altostratus clouds. There is distance, over which only the shortest lengths of light carry through, and they color the far mountains blue. Upon the near hills the trees appear as beard stubble, while the dense snow hangs thick beards over the stunted spruces, imparting to them a look of old Hasidim standing a mountaintop watch. It is a landscape of mysticism and clarity, and it cuts sharply through the photographs.
Time is perhaps the only element that remains absent. There is nothing of the year that passed between these two sets of photos, nor of the turning calendar between each and the present month of May. It is a welcome absence. Without the element of time these two contradictory ideas of Hunger Mountain in December occur simultaneously, and they do so in the present. Through image and memory all occurs at once. It is May, and I am on the mountain of December, 2013 and 2012. I have reached the summit, and I do so through my snowshoe photographs.

Snowshoe photos