What had me a little worried were the frames. They are prototypes and they were a little overcooked during the steaming process. Steaming wood is not an exact science, you gotta have a feel for it, and oversteaming can make the frames too soft and prone to cracking. These were on the ragged edge of acceptable, but I tested them a little, flexing them against little slopes climbing up and out of the pond. I won't be jumping up and down on them and bridging them across gaps, so they'll work just fine.
The lace pattern worked great. I was a little worried that consolidated snow would build up on the decking due to the tight weave. Again, I was pleasantly surprised. The powder didn't stick, and the thicker stuff didn't either. Cool.
These also floated an inch or so higher than my standard weave 'shoes. Not that the other ones are bad at all, they aren't, but these are amazing...very good flotation. I stepped off one and post-holed to my knee.
I'm walking on a good foot of snow in this picture. I might be sinking 4-5 inches. Sweet.
After the initial "these aren't going to snap in half under my body weight" trial, I wanted to get out a little with some of my friends. I didn't want to stay at work, and I needed someone to make sure that I could feel like I wasn't playing hooky alone. So I called Pete at Pemba and said that we needed to get some snowshoe time. Pete and Brad agreed to come along for a quick jaunt around Monona Bay.
We started from PembaBase and walked down to the bay, which was dotted with ice fishing shacks and guys in snowsuits sitting on buckets. We'll be back to join them someday soon, but we were snowshoeing today. We were heading for The Curve, the second-to-greasiest spoon in Madison. Three-quarters of the way across the bay we realized it would be closed, so we detoured to Lane's Bakery.
Pete and Brad were wearing Atlas Snowshoes, since Brad and Pete are sales reps for Atlas snowshoes so they have to wear them. Truthfully, they're my favorite "modern" shoes...they're well-made and have excellent bindings. I especially like the ten series. That said, for the sort of snowshoeing I like to do, traditional shoes work far better for me. There is a certain aesthetic consideration, of course, but that is an extra bonus on top of their performance.
Once we got to Lane's, we had hot cocoa (the stuff in the envelopes that tastes like brown chalk dust and hot water) and warmed up a little. When we walked in, T.J. (right) spotted my snowshoes and lit up like a Christmas tree. Apparently he has snowshoed before at his preschool, and he's only five. That is a considerable head-start on my snowshoeing experience. His mom explained how he really enjoyed it. I asked him if he wanted to try them on. T.J. nodded vigorously, not taking his eyes off the snowshoes.
His feet were tiny but I cranked the binding down and he stayed in. He swayed back and forth on the carpeting, shuffling the snowshoes back and forth, forward and backward, and I could see the little wheels turning...if only these shoes were just a little smaller...
I hope I see T.J. in the future.