It was raining today. I don’t think the temperature dipped below 40 overnight, and that does not bode well for the snowpack. It won’t be around much longer. So this morning as soon as I had eaten breakfast and got dressed, I set out to finish the survival snowshoes I had started on Friday.
The next thing I needed to do was to add a sturdy crossbar to which I could bind my boots. I wanted to do this while the tree from which the snowshoe was made was still standing, but the best piece of wood I could find from which to make the cross bar was that same tree, just below the snowshoe. I suppose I could have cut down another green tree, but that seemed pretty wasteful. So I cut this one down with my pocket knife.
It would have been easier to cut it down with some pruning shears, but since these were supposed to be survival snowshoes, I wanted to make them with the tools and materials I would likely have on hand in a survival situation.
I used about two feet of rope on each end of the cross bar to square lash them to the rim of the snowshoes. Then I used a three-foot length of rope to attach them to my feet. I started with two half-hitches around the cross bar (which I placed at the bottom of the snowshoe).
Then I passed the rope under my shoelaces, and used a trucker’s hitch to tie them to the other side (a truckers hitch is a great knot for tying a rope tightly around a load). Then I ran the rope around my heel and finished it off with another pair of half-hitches. I was ready to try them out.
These worked almost as well as my regular snowshoes – as far as keeping my weight above the snow.
As the photos show, they are quite a bit wider than my regular pair, so I had to walk with a wider straddle. I walked back to the house with them, both in untrodden snow where I’d need to break trail, and along the trails I had already made. I expect these would require a bit of maintenance after a mile or so, but none was needed for the 200 yard trek I made in them.
I went back out again to make a second attempt with the fir bough pair. I had verified that I had indeed put them on backwards, but it didn’t matter. The boughs folded up and I sank to my knees with them.
I suppose this approach could be made to work, but my experience could not be called “success” by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe thicker boughs would have done the trick.