Door County is one of those summer destinations coveted by so many Chicagoans. But until late last year, I never considered heading up to the Wisconsin pennisula during the winter months. Why drive five hours to find a place that is even colder and snowier than Chicago?
Because it’s so beautiful once you get there. And because of the snowshoeing.
Bear in mind that I am not a winter person (in case you hadn’t already guessed). Just ask my friend Susy, whocalled while I was getting ready to head out on my snowshoe adventure.
“Where are you?” she asked.
“In Door County, getting ready to go snowshoeing,” I answered.
“No, really. Where are you?” she responded.
Really. I was in Wisconsin and I was going snowshoeing. And I would go again. In fact, I may go again in February in northern Michigan.
Why? Because it’s magical. Unlike the snows that fall in Chicago and immediately turn into brown slush waiting for the next bus to splash all over you, the snow in Door County is hushed and pristine.
I was visiting as a guest of the Door County Visitor Bureau when I first strapped on the snowshoes. We rented our snowshoes at Nor Door Sport & Cyclery in Fish Creek ($4 for the first hour, $15 for the day) and headed into the freshly fallen snow at Pennisula State Park.
First, let me bust a couple of possible misconceptions about snowshoes.
1. These are not your grandparents’ snowshoes. Don’t think, as I did, “tennis rackets strapped to my feet.” Think “high-tech chrome frames attached to your toes.”
2. It’s not hard to walk in snowshoes, although it is a good workout. It took me a few fumbling steps to get used to the feeling of walking with the wide stride necessary when you have chrome frames attached to your toes. But once I did, I felt like I was on top of the world.
3. You don’t walk on top of the snow, but you do sink less than you would if you didn’t have chrome frames attached to your toes. I admit, I found this a little disappointing. I had envisioned myself gliding across the top of the snow, leaving barely a trace behind.
But it is no misconception that snowshoeing is a wonderful way to commune with nature after a big snow.
I had a moment of weakness during which I actually considered buying snowshoes for my family and me. Then I realized that walking around the streets of Chicago with snowshoes strapped to my feet would look just as silly as wearing that Mexican sombrero or Hawaiian shirt in Chicago. And they would make it harder to get out of the way when the bus starts spraying that muddy water around.