The winter of 2012 is off to a slow beginning at least when it comes to “feeling” like winter. Part of me is thrilled with the mild temperatures in Chicago. There has been no great need to break out the long underwear or even to keep your car brush handy in the morning. However, the other part of me though misses admiring the glistening white powder drifting down from the sky and of course playing in it!
To date, total snowfall accumulation has not reached 10 inches. Luckily though, last weekend we did get a sizeable dump of snow. The timing of it was not the best with snow falling at an inch per hour around rush hour. The end result was five inches comfortably resting on the ground. Finally some snow to play in!
Naturally, Matt was thrilled with the snow fall. Almost immediately, he suggested we go snowshoeing. My vote was for snow angels. Unfortunately I lost. But, I’m a good sport and being game for anything, I of course said yes.
Our first stop in our outdoor adventure was to rent snowshoes. Matt’s car magically routed us to REI. Looking to increase my winter apparel; I picked up a new pair of wind resistant mittens. No time like the present to test out a new pair of mittens while snowshoeing! Restraining himself very well, Matt only picked up a repair kit for snowshoes.
Finally making it to the rental desk we were able to secure the last pair of snowshoes. As a member of REI you can rent snowshoes for a reasonable $20 per day. Not too bad when you think a movie costs about $10-12 and lasts about two hours.
With snowshoes in hand we headed back to get all of our gear and proper winter attire. We packed a water bottle, a few snacks and a first aid kit, just in case. As soon as we got on the highway ramp, we got off just as quick. At first I was just a little confused. Matt parked us literally right off the highway ramp. Yes, there was a wooded area in front of us, but my initially reaction was, “really? This is it?”
The location could not have been better to test my snowshoe legs out. There were no other people around to watch me fall. Which for the record was only twice, and I’ve been told by reliable sources that is very good.
As we moved into the thicket the noise of the highway faded away. My faithful guide found a cross-country skier’s path that we used to complete about a three and a half mile trek. We kept our eyes out for animal tracks and spotted a few deer, squirrel and maybe even a fox or coyote. About after a half hour of walking, the sun started to peak out from the clouds illuminating the snow and trees. The winter scene was quiet beautiful. Who knew secluded places like this existed in our own backyard of Chicago!
My first experience snowshoeing went splendidly and I’m totally ready for my next. Maybe it will be up in Michigan or Wisconsin….who knows! I’m looking for other fun spots around Chicago, so feel free to add a comment about your favorite place for snowshoeing and/or other winter activities.
All I can say is that I’m very lucky I have an experienced guide and a REI membership.