The last time I was in Tahoe in the winter, Valentina, Margo and I went snowshoeing. The guys went skiing, but we girls weren’t up for that. Maybe it was the house party the night before, or maybe it was a fear of snowboarders taking us out as we meandered down the slopes.
Full disclaimer, I hadn’t been skiing in decades, and I was never very good. That was before I knew I had flat feet with a right foot that rotated out and hurt my knee. It was hard to get up from a fall (if only I’d turned my bad foot to the hill), and hard to stay upright while getting off the lift. Now I’d do better with orthotics, but alas, I had new concerns about broken bones.
Valentina drove us to the Nevada side of the lake, parked along the road, and led us as we followed the crowds into a clump of trees. It was windy and cold. We were bundled for it. We strapped on our snowshoes, mine from Costco, complete with poles and a bag.
I am tall, Margo is short, and Valentina is in-between. It was Margo’s and my first time. She kept falling over when she crossed one snowshoe over the other with her short legs. I didn’t have that problem with my 34” inseam.
We pushed on and ran into groups of women coming down the hill. Occasionally a solo guy on snowshoes would go by with a big dog.
My telescoping pole wouldn’t hold the tallest setting. Finally, it broke. I am too tall for Costco stuff. Valentina offered me one of her poles since she was experienced and wanted to help me out.
“Just lean your pole against this tree,” she said. “We’ll get it on the way back.”
It seemed reasonable. We were on a well-traveled trail of mashed-down snow.
We worked our way up the mountain, taking off layers as we went. Finally, at the top, we were rewarded with a killer view of the lake and sunshine. The wind wasn’t as bad, either.
Valentina took off her magic backpack and started producing our lunch. She pulled out cheese, fruit, chocolate, French bread, and finally a bottle of wine! We sat on a cold log and ate, laughing and taking in the scenery.
More women passed us by on their way to another peak. I was ready for the downhill pay-off and then realized there isn’t one in snowshoes. You still have to walk down the mountain.
By the time we were done with the lunch and wine, we were in a jolly mood. But we took the wrong trail down the hill. We ended up farther away from the car than where we entered the clump of trees. And the broken pole – we never found it, of course. There were thousands of trees that all looked alike.
It was a fun day for girlfriend bonding. I’ve only snowshoed one more time since then. One of these days I’ll get back to Tahoe when there’s snow. But really, I lived in the Midwest until I was thirty, so that’s thirty winters. Snow isn’t that big of a deal to me.
Now the ocean, on the other hand . . .