It sounded fun.
For a half a second, when I made the plans, it actually sounded like it would be a good time.
I have been wrong about many things before, but I have never been more wrong about anything, than I was about the snowshoeing.
Once upon a time, in the winter of 2002, we had decided that a snowy vacation in a new place would be a marvelous adventure.
My oldest son, who was 7 at the time, wanted to take snowboarding lessons, so we packed up and headed to Whistler BC, Canada for a relaxing stay at the Whistler Village.
I had every intention of sitting in front of a crackling fire at the Grand Lodge, drinking hot chocolate and admiring all of the “adventurous” people doing ridiculously adventurous things while freezing their asses off and slipping around on the ice…
while I watched, from a warm and cozy perch.
It wasn’t until we went to the winter sports orientation for my son’s snowboarding lessons, that we received the hard-sell on the “Snowshoes and Smiles” excursion, that was apparently a must on the to do list.
I was intrigued.
Well, it sounded innocent enough…snowshoes AND smiles? Hells yeah!
I thought to myself, “it’s probably like walking with giant shoes…on the snow, right?
I walk…I wear shoes…how hard can it be?”
In retrospect, it is now clear that all of the following statements are true:
-I should not have been in charge of anything.
-I should not have been thinking for myself.
-I was an idiot.
Let’s recap some of the reasons why I had avoided this type of activity up until this point.
I was pushing 300 lbs, and my idea of working out was walking upstairs to put away the laundry.
The extent of my winter wardrobe was a hat, a scarf, and a pair of sweatpants.
The only winter coat I owned was two sizes too small, and made me look like the Michelin Man.
I did not have any snow pants, or snow boots, or thermal underwear, or common sense…
Because I was not an outdoor creature, I was what you might call indoorsy.(Thank you Jim Gaffigan for that most appropriate word)
At the very worst case scenario, and I had visions of myself slipping, and falling down a hill, while gathering so much momentum that I would become a rapidly descending, accumulating, giant snowball of mass destruction, in a dicey game of Snow bowling, with me as the bowling ball, and all of my unsuspecting fellow snowshoers as the helpless pins.
However, the one other inevitable consequence of gravity (that I did not account for) was the one that actually ended up happening.
As it turns out, fresh, fluffy, soft snow, plus a stationary heavy object (me), equals an enormous sinkhole.
“Snowshoes and Smiles”????
Nay nay nay…
Oh, there were snowshoes…
But the smiles???
The smiles were buried at the bottom of the Mt Everest of my regret.
It was probably THE most embarrassing public display of ineptitude and folly I have ever encountered.
Every single time I took a step, my foot would sink all the way down the entire length of my leg, leaving one leg up on the surface at crotch level, and the other, all the way down, buried in the fresh powder.
All of the other well meaning fellow snowshoers tried so hard to keep straight faces as they came to my aid while forming a human chain, time and time again, pulling, and trying to get me upright.
But in the end, I was not only the weakest link, but also the anchor on the end of the chain. And our guide was forced to offer an incentive to some poor sap to make the sacrifice to stay behind with me, while everyone else forged ahead.
We had to wait for someone to come for us, and I then I had to make the walk of shame back the starting point.
It was humiliating, and it gave me all the proof I needed to close ranks, and stay barricaded in my safe place, putting the kibosh on any future endeavors.
I went home defeated, and swore I would never don another pair of snowshoes again.
Then, in December of 2013, when I finally hit my goal weight, I had all but forgotten about those difficult days.
There were so many things now that I had on my to do list. So many new and exciting things that I wanted to tackle, I had all but forgotten about the old ones that I NEEDED to conquer, to avenge my former defeats.
So, for Christmas that year, when I spotted a gift under the tree with snowflake wrapping paper that had my name on it, I never imagined that what was inside would be so triumphant.
As I ripped away the wrapping paper to reveal a beautiful new pair of snowshoes, I had mixed emotions.
I felt like Cinderella, waiting to put on the Glass Slipper, to see if it would fit.
She had run away from the Ball at the stroke of midnight because she was afraid of facing her truth, and it seems that I had done the very same thing.
And now, by putting on the Glass Snowshoe, all was about to be revealed. It was upon me to take my former defeat, and turn it into my try newest triumph.
I knew it was time.
Since all fairy tales begin with once upon a time, and end with happily ever after, I wonder if my new love of snowshoeing IS my happily ever after?
Because after all, “Cinderella” is just a story about a girl and a shoe, right?
Maybe Cinderella’s slipper wasn’t a Glass Slipper at all.
Maybe it was actually a hiking boot,
or a running shoe,
or a soccer cleat.
Or maybe, Cinderella’s slipper WAS indeed a snowshoe.
For in the end, the shoe DID fit perfectly…
Cinderella shops happily ever after…at REI.