There wasn’t even a Sproing! or a Snap!, but when I looked down at my snowshoes there was a piece of the binding sitting on the snow; not very helpful. Well, one important thing is to get a workout, and anyone traveling in or near wilderness has to be prepared for a bit of an adventure. But, having all of the straps snap? Sigh. OK, universe, evidently you wanted to teach me a lesson – maybe about trusting to the past a bit much? Time for upgrades, or repairs, or trying something else for a while.
My doctor prescribed one hike per week. (This was independent of the Canadian initiative allowing doctors to give patients passes to their parks. Hey, my doc’s a trendsetter!) I may resist the rest of the prescriptions but having to spend time in the mountains is not a burden. It may be a long commute, cost a bit in gas, and be humbling at times; but I feel better when I am visiting the bits of nature that we haven’t paved over. The prescription was for hiking, but I a three-book series of hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and skiing at three places in the Washington Cascades throughout the year. (Twelve Months at Barclay Lake, Twelve Months at Lake Valhalla, and Twelve Months at Merritt Lake) Finally, snow in the mountains. Time to tromp several feet above the forest floor.
I don’t want to give people the impression that the books were some macho exercise. I’m a chicken adventurer. That does not involve adventurous chickens. It means that, to my adventurous friends, I am chicken; I turn around at avalanche slopes, or carefully scoot off them if I find myself on one. It also means that to my more urban friends, what I do can sound adventurous. I know the truth. Almost all of the trips in those books were sweet and innocuous – with a few episodes of “Uh Oh”, “Dumb guy, dumb guy”, and “I’m so glad no one saw what I just did.”
The books were written over a decade ago, during which I’ve been working so much that I didn’t have the time and money to go for a hike. (Hence, getting out of shape, working myself too much by necessity, and getting a finger wag from every healthcare professional involved – and why a prescription was inspirational.) I wasn’t going to be silly about it. The me that took those trips and wrote those books was in the his mid-forties, had relatively new gear, and was in better shape than I knew. (I actually thought I was out of shape because I had more criticisms than encouragements, and I turned that lack into a poor body image. See Just Keep Pedaling for a lesson in that.) I was going to take it easy and slow.
Easy and slow meant a hike that wasn’t very wild. Drive until I find snow. Find a cleared and safe place to park. Make sure it’s okay to be there. Change clothes. Put on gear. Get up onto the snow with the shoes and go!
Maybe I should’ve driven higher. Instead of a snowpack I was on two feet of slush. Even the snowshoes wanted to sink. After several steps it makes sense to readjust the straps that hold the snowshoes to the boots. Hmm. Each snowshoe has three straps across the top, and one that goes around the heel. They keep everything in place, and have redundancy. So, when I saw that each snowshoe had a partial crack in one strap I wasn’t too worried. A decade in storage didn’t prevent rubber from aging. It was aging. I was aging. I felt its pain.
Tromp. Tromp. and I’ll speed up the story. Within less than a hundred meters each snowshoe had two snapped straps. Each was being held on by one strap on top and one around the back. Uh. That’s a good good time to turn around and abandon the effort. Perseverance can be taken too far.
Halfway back to the car all of the top straps had snapped. That left the heel strap, and it was shoving the boot through the front of the snowshoe. Not good. Stepping out of them wasn’t good either because – well – stepping through two feet of slush at every step was tiring and a knee and ankle twisting opportunity. Gingerly, tenderly I scooted a step, readjusted the remains of the snowshoe, repeat – and detour around a trough of big holes I stepped across at the very start. Another fine moment when no one was watching.
I survived. Duh.
Back home I checked with the manufacturer to see if they were still in business (yes, though they were bought out along the way), and if straps from 2022 would work on shoes from 2002. Yes!
Yes? It’s 2022. Supply chain issues mean they are out of stock. It’s already mid-February. By the time those straps arrive the season will be over.
What worked then, should work now, but not necessarily. Snowshoeing may be about as low tech as a winter option can be, but assuming is a risky strategy. I aged. They aged. The world changed.
I own stocks that are older than those snowshoes. My house is older. I am older. Even buying stout equipment from a reputable business, and knowing how to use it does not mean it is eternal. Cars aren’t expected to be eternal. My backyard fence certainly hasn’t been permanent. Even society and the economy aren’t the same. (The environment isn’t the same, either; and those changes were apparent even back then.)
We are in the midst of change, and were, even before the pandemic. I welcomed the shutdown because I remember my parents’ worries about polio. That inspired me to better understand previous pandemics. Mask up? Yes, please. Get vaccinated? Definitely.
As we un-mask, re-socialize, re-arrange our lives we’ll also be adjusting to schisms in society that weren’t as apparent a decade ago, to the Great Resignation, to conventional wisdom being questioned and measured against what we’ve been through.
This blog is about personal finance. For me, inspiration about what’s personal about finance comes from life more than from books. What will I invest in? What will I spend money on? (Will my books ever pay enough to more than compensate for the effort in time and money that went into them? New boots? New tent? New sleeping bag?)
I did nothing wrong. The manufacturer did nothing wrong then or now. But those straps snapping is a reminder that budgets require funds for maintenance, repair, and replacements as necessary. It isn’t always about buying the new new thing. (That’s also true for infrastructure, as I reflected on the potholes and rusted bridges I saw on the way home.)
My snowshoes aren’t necessities, as long as I’m already somewhere safe. A few hundred meters from the car and they became dire necessities. I’m safe and at home. Unless my finances and the supply chain improve I’ll postpone snowshoeing until the end of this year. That’s easy enough to do. I’m simply more inspired to re-assess old, reliable gear to make sure it is still reliable; and maybe do that to attitudes and assumptions, too.
In the meantime, there’s snow in those mountains. It looks like I’ll have to drive higher and farther. You see, I have these cross-country skis that I haven’t used in a decade…