Posts Tagged With: snowshoes

Found Photos: Mid-20th Century Vermont Beaver Camp

There are no dates on these photos I found but I am guessing they were taken in the late 1940s or early 1950s. They record a group of men who traveled on snowshoes for a couple days of beaver trapping. Blurry and badly exposed, these photos were probably a big deal to these guys. Back then, the cost of a roll of film, plus processing, confined picture taking to special occasions and events. When the pictures finally got back from being developed these men probably got together again to look at them over coffee and cigarettes after dinner, before spending the rest of the evening playing cribbage and telling stories.

I don’t know how these pictures ended up where I found them, and I don’t know where they’d have gone if I hadn’t, but I wanted to preserve these old records of our outdoor heritage. Wanting to share them is the reason for this post.

In case someone missed it the first time, these pictures are of beaver trappers. They had a successful couple of days, hung their catch from poles and posed for pictures in camp. There’s nothing here to disturb the squeamish, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Heading out on Snowshoes

Heading out on Snowshoes

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Categories: nature, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Tapping Out

(A new tab at the top of this page (or this link) will take you to a collection of photos and links following the production of maple syrup this spring from the sugar bush of some friends. Their new enterprise is called Bobo’s Mountain Sugar, and the taps are in on Bobo’s Mountain — all 2500 of them.)

In mixed martial arts, tapping out is an act of submission, the end of a fight, and often the result of a violent twisting of arms. In maple syrup production, tapping out is a declaration of victory, the end of a job that no one’s arm had to be twisted to do.

big old tree

The snow was deep when I started helping on the hill above the sugar house, but I waded and floundered and stomped my way along the lines, tapping trees for a few hours each afternoon, doing what I could. The steepness of the hill, combined with thickets of beech and short balsams, had me convinced I made the right call in leaving my snowshoes at home, even as more flakes fell every day. After struggling in the wake of an additional 14+” from one storm, I finally gave in and strapped them on the next day.

If, as they say, snowshoes make the impossible difficult, it was a very hard afternoon. Without my snowshoes I had sunk to my knees; with them I still sank to my knees and had to high-step to clear the holes I’d made, with the decks weighted down with snow. Lifting a leg, expecting 25 pounds of resistance but getting none because the snow slid off, resulted in a few sharp blows to my chin and twice I kneed myself in the ear when my right foot sank deeper as I lifted my left. Continue reading

Categories: +Uncategorized, Maple Syrup, Rural Life, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A Scientific Method for Determing the Depth of Late-season Snow in the Woods

Rain and slightly warmer temperatures this week raised water levels and the ice on the river, upstream of our village, is breaking up. Snow on the banks is collapsing, adding to the floes, and a jam yesterday forced water out of the channel and into the fields. The water has receded somewhat today but, if the ice jam lets go, there could be big trouble in town.

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Categories: Humor, nature, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

On the Snowshoes (Video)

Took a break from working a shovel on the roof, strapped on the snowshoes and took a little walk. Shot some video, too. No one working for National Geographic or Discovery Channel has anything to worry about from me.

I’d turn down the volume if I were you.

Categories: nature, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Walk in the Woods

There are times when any opening in the trees seems as good as another but things are not always as they seem. There is a trail around Fish in a Barrel Pond and, no matter how many times I tromp it down, regular snow-fall fills it back in. If it was only me using the trail, I wouldn’t worry about keeping it open, but it is not so I do. Some members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society like to get out once in a while, and when two of them came up last week I told them I hadn’t been out since the last big snow but they said it wasn’t a problem; they knew the way and they would be happy to break the trail for me. Continue reading

Categories: nature, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

With My Snowshoes

With my snowshoes, the impossible becomes difficult. Snow that would have been waist-deep only comes up to my knees and high stepping through the powder means lifting extra weight as the decks collect snow. But my legs are long and strong, allowing me to stride purposefully (remember – I don’t run) in pursuit of poachers, trespassers and other miscreants.

With my old school wood and rawhide snowshoes I can blaze a trail through fresh, deep snow with nary a sound other than the occasional creak of the leather bindings, which sounds like nothing more than a tree in the breeze. These are my woods and I can head off most any incursion, taking great delight in startling intruders into exclaiming, “What the …?” or “Where’d you come from?” or even, “How come we didn’t see you with that screaming bright orange hat?” Continue reading

Categories: Humor, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Without My Snowshoes

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. Continue reading

Categories: Humor, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Quill Gordon Channels Natty Bumppo

Animal tracks show up well in fresh snow and some people enjoy getting out and “reading” the “stories” those tracks have to tell, but generally the plot lines aren’t much. The woods are full of the apparently random ramblings of rodents and lagomorphs.

“A squirrel went from this beech to that maple” or “a hare passed by this log yesterday” are recurring themes in the woods.

There are times, though, when the story might be interesting, and you don’t even need to be Natty Bumppo in order to cipher it out.

If a large man on large snowshoes trudges across the frozen January crust it looks like this:


If a Northern Hawk Owl comes down on a vole it looks like this:

And if a coyote walks by and a rodent panics, “swims” to the surface and makes a break for it, that rodent is not long for this world. When the trait that causes poor decision making is eliminated from the mouse gene pool it looks like this, with coyote #1 on the left flushing the mouse, which skedaddled to the right where it was promptly pounced upon by coyote #2 :


Not really a thriller, and not much of a mystery, but at least somebody got a snack out of it.

Categories: Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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