The calendar indicated the first day of spring as Monday, March 20, however the deep snow on the ground at the MCS Farm painted a different picture. During nature classes, the 8-9s needed to don snowshoes in order to negotiate the two feet of snow left from last week’s winter storm. The students learned the history of the snowshoe and discussed what inspired early peoples to create them. Originating in Central Asia thousands of years ago, the concept spread fairly quickly to other native peoples in cold climates.
The kids were quick to identify snowshoe hares, bobcats and cottontail rabbits—animals with large paws that were successful at staying on top of the snow—as the snowshoe inventors’ inspiration. During their exploration, they discovered tracks of white-tailed deer, whose heavy bodies and narrow hooves cause them to sink deep in the snow.
Some students wore modified bear paw snowshoes while others had beaver tails. Modern snowshoes are made of lightweight aluminum and neoprene, but the Farm still keeps some wooden and rawhide shoes on hand. While snowshoes don’t prevent you from sinking, they do help spread your body weight over a larger area.
Snowshoeing is currently the fastest growing winter sport. This trend enables many people to hike through deep snow in beautiful places while enjoying the winter, or in our case spring, season.