SEC T I ON T WO northern Minnesota to tromping up ice-glazed slopes during Search and Rescue missions in Alaska. With ease use, whether for work or pleasure, a bit of the lore inherent in each style starts to permeate up through my body and into my soul the instant that binding is cinched around my boot. And while I truly appreciate the convenience of sturdy aluminum frames, high-tech’ harness/binding systems and hard-steel, bear-claw crampons embedded into their underside, the worn wood, varnish-stained, rawhide-webbed “old style” still kindles my spirit with a brighter, warmer f lame. Snowshoes have become the lead character in at least a dozen articles over the years, too. Just as an old wood- strip Prospector canoe can take the spotlight in an otherwise ho-hum f ishing experience, so, too, can a pair of snowshoes capture the spotlight in a story on winter camping, ice f ishing or just romping through a winter wonderland. I’ve written about the history of snowshoes, the benef its of each different style of wood-frame designs, the components and materials used to make modern snowshoes. Each time the theme of the story was founded in my own experiences and adjusted for the media in which it was to be presented. Each round of maintenance or repair task became a segment of a story line, each process was photographed to illustrate a point in an article or presentation. Like so often with our many treasured pieces of equipment, my snowshoes become a dynamic subject whenever I refer to them in the context of a piece of topical writing. There’s been more than a few occasions where my initial intent was to plow a trail through a thick mantle of snow for a dramatic lead-in to a story on camping, or scratch my way along a drift-blown frozen shoreline for an anticipated photo opt. Many times I have become literally frozen in my tracks by an uncaring - and unimpressed - Mother Nature. Fortunately having snowshoes strapped to my boots was a bonus - providing me with an option for a new, albeit humbling, story line. In my mind, a high-tech metal-tube framed shoe is one of the most advanced ways of walking on snow - a fantastic, utilitarian piece of winter gear. The classic bent ash frames and rough, rawhide strips that form the traditional wooden snowshoe, on the other hand (or foot) carry a much deeper spirit of tradition with each step - one that seems to always prompt a story - or at least a good sidebar - in it’s own right. It speaks about the essence of “outdoor” writing as well - just like a good angling story can be more about the f ishing than the catching - sharing the journey along the way can be so much more enriching than just describing the destination. ‡‡‡ PHOTO CREDIT: KRISSIE MASON