Many make their own snowshoes as sport grows in popularity - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Many make their own snowshoes as sport grows in popularity


Fall Creek, Wis. (WQOW) - The snow is falling and the temperature is rising, which means many people will be itching to get outside.  One winter sport that is gaining in popularity requires nothing more than walking. With names like the Sasquatch Shuffle, Treehaven Tromp and, around here, the Powder Keg, snowshoe racing has become so popular many people are choosing to make their own snowshoes. 

"If you can walk, you can snowshoe. You don't have to walk like a bow-legged cowboy who rode a horse for too long, like many people think you do. It's just a natural stride," Jim Schwiebert of Beaver Creek Reserve says.

The crunching of snow under foot is becoming so popular; many people are weaving, knotting and burning nylon to make their own snowshoes at Beaver Creek Reserve in Fall Creek. 

"Aesthetically, they're beautiful but they're functional too. These people will be using them. They won't just be hanging on their wall, they're made to work. We offer three styles at Beaver Creek. Green Mountain Bear Paw, which is rounded at the tips and the tails. An Ojibwe style shoe, which is pointed at the tips and tails. An Alaskan, which is a longer shoe that is pointed at the toe and tapered at the tail," Schwiebert says.

But on our frozen tundra, one style stands out.

"I did research on all three different styles and the Ojibwe is more suited's kind of utilitarian. It turns well, it's able to handle the different conditions that we would experience in this area. The other two are good as well but I figured since I'm just starting, I should get the easiest to use one," Tessa Bunn of Eau Claire says.

"The Ojibwes were developed by native people in Wisconsin. Because we have a lot of swamps and wetland areas here, the pointed toe allows you to more easily go through brush and grasses and things like that," Schwiebert says.

"The weaving part is the hardest, trying to figure out where you're going next," Kathy Hanson of Chippewa Falls says.

Two days to weave but 30 days to wait.  That is how long the varnish takes to set and turn the nylon web rough and tough, like the rawhide the Ojibwes used.

"My daughter is making the other one so we decided to learn two different ones at the same time," Hanson says.

"It's a lot of fun to do. And we get to use them after and we have snow in Wisconsin," Myra Hanson says.

"A lot of the parks have snowshoe trails. The nice thing about snowshoes like this is you're not confined to going on trails. If  you want to go in the forest, and we have 55,000 acres of Eau Claire County forest, and you want to go off in the woods with your GPS or compass, put these on and go," Schwiebert says.

If you're feeling inspired to take a hike, Beaver Creek Reserve has snowshoes you can rent to take on their trails. But, if you want to make your own, there will be another class in January.






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