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January Snowshoe Fun

With so little snow and unusually warm temperatures in Southeast Michigan, I decided to head north and see if I could find some snowshoeing. I love snowshoeing and winter hiking, but it had been so warm near me that it wasn’t too appealing. Yes, I do like warm temperatures, but it’s fun to be able to do the winter activities too!

On my way north, I stopped in at a park in Bay City for a short hike. There was still some snow on the trail… but there was a lot more slush and puddles! It was a fun slosh, but not what I envision when I think of winter hiking. However, it was a good chance to test out some waterproof socks I bought. They held up surprisingly well.

I was staying with a friend in the Alpena region, so we went snowshoeing at Reid Lake the first day. Neither of us had tried out our snowshoes, so it was a learning experience for both of us. His were an old-school style, very heavy with a metal frame. My snowshoes were more modern, but I’ve always struggled to find waterproof boots that fit my feet well, so I was hoping my socks would stay waterproof.

I ambitiously thought we might go maybe five miles, but Reid Lake has several loops, so we weren’t committed to that, fortunately… The first half mile or so of the trail was fairly well used, because there is a little lake there that is popular for ice fishing. After that, the trail was basically non-existent. In a way it was fun, we were like early explorers. It was also a great workout! A few times we wandered off, definitely for exploration, not because we didn’t know where the trail was.

We saw a lot of animal tracks and a few ice fishermen, but other than that, we only encountered one other person on that section. We decided to take a shorter route back because our feet were not as dry and warm as we might have hoped. But the last section was really a “type-two fun” activity. The snow seemed much deeper, and there were frequent fallen pine trees. Snowshoes are not good for climbing. It was exhausting and exhilarating in the way that kind of thing can be. My friend eventually gave up on his snowshoes and just post-holed the rest of the way back. We were both relieved to see the car and limped back to it. I added up our distance... shockingly, it was just under three and a half miles. With all the climbing that short distance had somehow taken us about three hours.

One of many obstacles.

I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to go the next day too. My friend was busy, so I went solo to Norway Ridge. This area was much more heavily used and had much less snow. It was much closer to Lake Huron, I’m not sure if that’s the reason for the light snow. But it was a warmer day and very slushy as well, my feet were soaked at the end of it; the waterproof socks did not live up to their name. With those conditions, I was able to go five miles much easier than the previous day. The snowshoes were marginally helpful.


Back at the house, my friend and I swapped snowshoes and we went around the yard a bit to try them out. His were terrible! I could barely move my legs, and not just from the muscle soreness. After trying those, I was extremely impressed that he was able to make it even those three miles. After he tried my snowshoes, he loved them but was much less impressed that I made it that distance.

The next two days we did some more snowshoeing, at Hoist Lakes. The trails were completely unbroken, and it was a lot of fun to see so many animal tracks. It’s a beautiful area. I’ll admit by this point my legs were very tired. Snowshoeing feels like it uses different muscles than hiking, and its just slow going. Or that’s my excuse at least; it can’t be that I’m out of shape! It was a very fun trip and I’m glad the snow lasted long enough for me to go enjoy it. Winter isn’t my favorite time, but there really are some fun things to do.

Below are some more photos. I didn’t include any screenshots of GPS recordings because they really weren’t very impressive.

If you’re interested in visiting the Alpena area with a fun hiking group, we have several beginner-friendly group backpacking trips coming up in August.

1 comment

1 Comment

Really nice pics, looks like a nice break from indoors anyway!

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