Jan 20 2014
This area being characterized by very steep terrain, Canadian snowshoes are sometimes of limited usability, same with skis. The traditional snowshoes of Norway were usually made with a juniper frame and birch withies as webbing. They don’t float nearly as well on the snow as the traditional skis used in the area being quite small and with very coarse webbing. In loose snow they don’t really help all that much, but when the snow is a bit denser or with a crust where your foot just about breaks through with each step they are perfect and make walking about a lot easier.
Since these conditions frequently are quite wet, rawhide webbing would stretch a lot and become unusable. The withies are virtually unaffected by moisture and are very, very tough.
I’ve never quite bothered making this kind of snowshoes before, because I assumed (without having tested) that juniper at this time of year is difficult to bend. Not so! Jonathan, who was visiting, gave it a go and it seems that this time of year is perfect for bending juniper. You can nearly bend it as far as you want without it cracking!
So we both made a pair. His pair was quite a bit bigger than mine. There is a limit to how big these snowshoes can be without them becoming impractical of two reasons:
- To be useful going uphill, the front toe has to be all the way to the front of the snowshoe.
- They’re fastened securely to your foot and doesn’t drop back like Canadian ones.
These snowshoes closely resemble native Californian snowshoes and probably a number of other very simple snowshoes. They are real survival equipment that can easily be made in a day even with stone tools.
Jonathan will probably do a tutorial on how to make them soon, so check out his site in the time coming. His snowshoes are the ones at the top, showing how they are attached to the foot.
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