Kim, Day Hiking Ambassador
Well, yes, it should come as no surprise as we had heard the predictions for months now. But being a glass half full type of person I didn’t really allow myself to believe it. I mean, we had been looking forward to snowshoeing season ever since we stowed away our snowshoes last April. To our great surprise we even had our first snowfall, enough to make the first snowball by mid November. But now, since that first snow had completely melted away and we have entered into our first full week of December with no new snow, just rain, it appears as though the predictions just may have become our reality. The reality of an El Niño winter in Michigan.
OH NO! El Niño?! What exactly does a Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador do when an El Niño winter is predicted? Well first of all, you snow dance (A LOT!) and maybe even say a little prayer? That’s exactly what we did back in October while on our annual UP (Upper Peninsula) of Michigan Fall color tour road trip. We made a spontaneous visit to a place that we had passed by many times before, but we felt quite compelled to stop in this time. We stopped in to visit the Baraga “Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest”.
The Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest is located on a stretch of highway (US 41) between L’Anse and Baraga, Michigan. This hand-wrought brass sculpture stands 35 feet high and weighs four tons. It floats on a cloud of stainless steel supported by five laminated wood beams perched high on the bluffs overlooking the Keweenaw Bay. Holding a cross seven feet high and snowshoes 26 feet long, the statute was erected in tribute to Frederic Baraga, who became the first Bishop of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The title of “The Snowshoe Priest” stemmed from his many long trek’s through the winter months to visit churches in his jurisdiction. Snowshoes permitted him to travel despite heavy snowfall. He was known to travel over 700 miles in one winter, which attested to both his strength of will and physical stamina. Keep in mind this was all done with the rustic, hand made, hardwood snowshoes of days past, and not the lightweight, technically engineered Tubbs Snowshoes which we are accustomed to today. Thank goodness for the advances of modern technology and Tubbs Snowshoes is all I can say 😉
Getting back to El Nino, and our upcoming winter. All is not lost, as it is still very early. Being born and raised in Northern Michigan I know it is inevitable and that the snow will come. How much? Only time will tell. Until then, this Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador will keep that glass half full and the positive thoughts going, by continuing to get outdoors, and exploring old and new trails for our future snowshoe adventures to come. Stay tuned!