Thursday, December 11, 2014

Snow isolation

Tuesday evening around 9 p. m. I finally got around to picking up the mail. By then there was a good foot of heavy snow on the ground. The town had yet to plow. Only one car had driven on the road. His vehicle was low enough that the snow between his tire tracks was all churned up from the car's passage. A few more inches and he might not have made it home.

Now imagine there were no snow plows. The roads would soon become impassable until spring. Without modern snow plows distances were a whole lot longer in the old days.

Did you ever wonder how roads were plowed in the horse and buggy days? They weren't. Large heavy wooden rollers would be pulled by a team of horses. The snow would get complicated into a hard layer that people and their animals could travel on. No wonder trips into town back in the old days was a big deal. Some of the old folks in town remember how it was, so it wasn't all that long ago.

Those horse teams are long gone. So how would someone travel any distance in the winter? Snowmobiles work. Unfortunately, they don't work as well as they used to. Newer machines, with a few exceptions, are designed to travel on packed and maintained trails. Few can make their way though fresh deep snow.

Let's assume that the roads are not being plowed because there's either no fuel or an EMP type event has disabled the machines. How can someone travel?

With great difficulty. Skis maybe, but most cross country skis are designed for groomed trails. You'd better have ones designed for virgin snow. Snowshoes would do the job, but they are an awful lot of work. Breaking trail in deep snow is exhausting. This is where it pays to have more in your group. The first person in line has a hard time. The second person finds the going a lot easier. The third and fourth person in line are walking on packed trail. The trick is for the lead person to break trail for a short while, then step aside to let the rest of the group do the hard work. He falls to the back and eventually makes his way to the front again as the others tire.

There is one advantage to snow travel. It's possible to carry a heavy load in a sled. That's good as snowshoe travel is slow and it could take days to get anywhere. That takes a lot of survival gear in the winter.

Then there's dog sleds, but that's a major investment in dogs, training and equipment. It's a great hobby, but no one is going to keep a dog team, “just in case.” However, it is possible to keep a good pair of skis or snowshoes, along with a toboggan. If you live in serious snow country, it's something to consider.



  1. Or, you could sail south for the winter. lol

    1. If it wasn't for all those grandkids and Christmas I'd be there now.

  2. Living in the deep south, I have a lot of respect for the people who choose to stay up north in the winter. People up there have a whole other set of rules to live by during that time of year. A whole wardrobe of clothing that is set to deal with those conditions. Vehicle maintenance and equipment to make sure are installed. And like you said, "going into town" requires a lot more care.

    Our area is a destination for 'snow birds', people who move South during the winter. I can't say as I blame them, watching the news.

    1. Even in summer, we think of winter. It gets harder as one gets older.

  3. I just don't think I could do it. Having to deal with all the snow after being used to mild Winters all my life would mean a major lifestyle change for this old man!

  4. in the old days one would be prepared for months of "snowed in"

    nowadays it is called "prepping"

    in any case too much snow and one particuliar snowbird will have to stay north this winter...

    unless you get her to pull the sled....