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.

Add a crossbar

Add a crossbar


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).

Binding them to the boots

Binding them to the boots


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.
Ready!

Ready!


These worked almost as well as my regular snowshoes – as far as keeping my weight above the snow.

They sank to the same depth as my "real" snowshoe

They sank to the same depth as my "real" snowshoe

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.

Folded fir failure

Folded fir failure

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.