Without my snowshoes, I would have to charge into the woods, leaping over or plowing through the drifts along the edges to reach the deep even blanket of snow within. If that interior snow was especially deep I would have to lift my legs high and somewhat sideways to make forward progress. In soft, waist-deep snow I could wind up wallowing in my own tracks, pulling myself deeper with my struggles and packing snow around my feet to the point I would need to lie down and attempt to extricate myself by rolling out of the hole I’d made. I could flop around like that for a couple of hours, straining, toiling and burning so many calories that I would ironically overheat and freeze to death if I didn’t suffer a heart attack first.
Without my snowshoes I might be able to walk across a slick January crust atop the snow, but as anyone of any size who has tried it will tell you, sooner or later one of my feet would punch through that crust and all my weight would follow that foot down. I might scrape a shin on the rough, hard edge of my track before hitting solid footing again but I could also wind up with that leg going down a three-foot hole, quickly bringing the knee of my other leg into firm contact with my chin, laying me back, bleeding, unconscious and unable to call for help. Or there could be a hidden snag or dead-fall beneath that crust. A toppled spruce, perhaps, with mangled, broken branches upon which to be impaled. A sharp poke to the groin or through a femoral artery would most certainly signal the end of more than just that day’s outing.
Without my snowshoes, I could die in any number of ways, alone in the cold, quiet woods. There might be time to ponder ultimate questions and deny the futility of further struggle but, likely as not, there might only be time for a quick curse or prayer (just in case). No matter how the end came about, though, when April warmth melted my drifted, frozen tomb, my friends would comment on how the crows always go for the eyes first and they would talk about what a number the squirrels did on my beard. And before they began the long trudge out of the woods with my body, someone would be bound to ask, “Why wasn’t he wearing snowshoes?”