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Snowshoes, The Gateway Drug

Last week Snowmageddon approached, threatening to bury our fair nation's capital with 30 inches of snow. Citizens mobbed grocery stores, stocking up with weeks worth of groceries that would likely get crammed in their freezer and forgotten. Meanwhile, I prepared with an impulse buy of my own. Snowshoes!
What would possess someone living in the MidAtlantic region, with an average annual snowfall of just 16.6 inches, to buy snowshoes?

Let's go back about seven years. Once again it was Kerry Owens who got me in over my head.
It was my first time showshoeing. I did not yet realize the essential role of gaiters. The snow I kicked up landed in the back of my shoes. When I decided it would be wise to turn back - my fingers getting numb, my socks wet and the familiar tingle of blisters developing on both heels - she convinced me I should go on. She told me we could hop on a bus on the other side of the mountain if necessary.

She lied. When we got to the other side, my blisters were full-blown. I declared I was bailing for the bus. She admitted she had no idea if they were even running or exactly where to catch one. I had no choice but to trek back the entire way, numb, wet, heels on fire.

We snowshoed for nearly four hours. I had blisters on top of blisters. They took weeks to heal. Other than two marathons (on nice flat courses, sans altitude or snow) it was the longest I'd gone on foot. But after it was over I thought, if I could do that, I can suffer through a 50K.

So maybe it wasn't an impulse buy. Snowshoeing had been the 'gateway drug' that led me into the ultramarathon world.
Whatever the reason, Snowmageddon delivered the white stuff and we got our fix, touring the city in our new snowshoes. There were gaggles of Washingtonians out braving the elements: walkers, runners, photographers, sledders, snowball fighters, even a few fellow snowshoers. A big snow turns the whole city friendly and giddy and even an introvert finds it easy to strike up conversations with complete strangers.

I even got in a couple of sledding runs. It was a great day to be out in the snow. I may be addicted.