On my first snowshoeing trip, at 18, I never stopped shivering. On my second, at 39, I never stopped laughing.
Well, I must admit that I was shivering in the parking lot of the REI, meeting our guides and waiting for the rest of our party to arrive and be packed into the 9-passenger van. (One seat was removed to avoid that pesky professional drivers license.) Soon enough, though, we were snuggled into our seats and enjoying the heater as we climbed I-80 to Donner Pass.
Eighteen-year-old me would probably have been intimidated by the three hot young guys leading our party of four, but thirty-nine-year-old me just enjoyed the eye candy and making them uncomfortable with off-color jokes. On the trail, I kept asking when the naked snowshoeing portion began and who brought the booze. Being the dirty old lady is a lot of fun.
On that long ago trip, I felt so alone. I knew no one in the party and was too shy, and eventually too miserable, to make connections. While I’m still introverted, I’m no longer shy, and I brought a buddy. When I wasn’t flirting with the staff, my sister and I were making inside jokes and laughing at our lack of snowshoeing prowess. We were absolutely giddy with mountain air, sunshine, and sparkling snow.
Lunch was at least a two-hour affair - not because we had twelve courses, but because the guides had brought the wrong fuel to heat water for soup at 7,000 feet in December. All was not lost. The guides hadn’t brought cocktails, but they produced charcuterie, mandarin oranges, slightly stale Halloween candy, and hot coffee from their packs. By the time the lukewarm, overly-concentrated soup was prepared, we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves lounging in the snow, taking silly pictures, and all trying to two-finger whistle. We never got to the advertised s’mores (inappropriate fuel), but I don’t think anyone missed it. We were high on life, not sugar.
The silliness continued down the trail and back to the van. The guide sharing the bench seat with my sister and me fell asleep, so we maintained our jesting at a lower volume. Eventually, I mellowed and fell into quiet reflection as we followed the sunset home.
I’m glad that I added snowshoeing to my 40 B4 40 list. How often do we have the courage or opportunity to “redo” a negative experience? I’m waiting for the spring sales to purchase my own pair of snowshoes. In the meantime, I returned to Donner Pass in January with my doggies to hike the well-packed trails in snow boots. I’m no longer afraid of the snow or cold or being alone. It was just me and two border collies and I was laughing all the way.