Thursday, March 12, 2009

3/12/09 Moonlight Snowshoeing

The Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC) at UMF offered a free opportunity to community members: Moonlight Snowshoeing. I signed up! The event was postponed from its original schedule due to inclimate weather so we went on Thursday night instead of Tuesday night. The sky was clear but it was a bit nippy (13 degrees when we arrived, 9 degrees when we left--that's 23 degrees colder than the temperature at which water freezes). We met at the Fitness Center, had our snowshoes issued to us, and got in the van. There were only 11 of us, and I actually knew 6 of my fellow snowshoers! Three were former students, one was the brother of a former students, one holds the record for most appearances in my class videos than any other non-class member, and the other is the friend of a faculty friend whom I had met at a party.

We drove about 20 minutes from campus to the home of the director of the FRC. He lives on a lake and has his own snowshoe trail! There wasn't any moonlight, but it was a beautiful clear dark night. So it started out as "Starlight Snowshoeing". We used flashlights and it was actually very fun. The trail was easy to follow, even by flashlight. About halfway through the hike, the moon started to rise. It was gorgeous. The rest of the hike was by moonlight! And there was hot chocolate for all at the end. I tried to take photos of the moonrise but my camera wouldn't work. I got one faint message about needing to replace the batteries (which was odd because they were just fine earlier in the evening) and then nothing. Later that night, in the comfort of my own apartment, I took out the camera to see what was wrong and it worked just fine. I think it was so cold out there that my camera wouldn't operate! I've read that warning on technology before but I've never worried about it before. Wow. It was actually so cold out there tonight that either my camera or my batteries (or both) wouldn't function.

For me personally, I had a very hard time snowshoeing in weather that cold. Being out of shape didn't help but having subfreezing air in your lungs makes it very hard for oxygen to get to all the places it needs to get. At one point, I didn't think my lungs were going to work anymore, even going slow didn't help! Fortunately, it was only when we were going uphill. Flat land and downhill were manageable. And the trail was a nice mix with most of the uphill at the beginning. I don't want to admit that it might have been because almost everyone on the trip was half my age. I'm still 21 so it can't be that! There were three FRC employees in the group and they spread themselves out throughout the crowd. In the second half, Jennifer, the Aquatics Director just hung out with me and we stayed waaaaay behind the rest of the group. ;-) She's a very patient woman. The consistently slower pace along with the more even slope helped a lot. I felt badly for her but I had a blast. I just hope she wasn't looking for any kind of workout.

Here we are helping each other put on our snowshoes (well, I didn't help anyone...I didn't know what I was doing).

These two photos were taken for Alison, my friend who introduced me to David, shown in these photos. She encouraged him to come and even 2 hours earlier they were on the phone and as far as he knew, she was planning to go. But she didn't show. That's okay, we had a great time anyway. Sorry to miss you Alison!!

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