Raquette à Neige

Entrance to the cross country skiing/snowshoeing trails.

Entrance to the cross country skiing/snowshoeing trails.

I’ve tried skiing and snowboarding and usually went sledding every year back in Oklahoma, but last weekend I tried a winter sport that was new to me. Along with Liza and Lindsey, two other American assistants, I went on my first snowshoeing (or raquette à neige en France) outing. We drove to the Parc Régional du Pilat in the Loire département, which is northwest of the Drôme département where I live. The Parc is free to use and has beautiful winding trails through a snow-covered forest that might as well be Narnia.

This is the forest we walked through.

This is the forest we walked through.

The snowshoes were pretty cheap to rent, although I didn’t realize that you usually wear your own shoes on top of them and I had stupidly worn Vans. So, I rented boots as well. There is basically no learning curve for snowshoeing. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. The snowshoes are big plastic ovals strapped to your feet that keep you front sinking into the snow. They also grip the ground, making it easier to walk up icy hills.

We had our picnic just to the right of this statue of Mary.

Statue of Mary on top of the mountain.

After about an hour of walking through the trails and admiring the snow covered trees, we had a picnic overlooking a snowy village. It was decadent. It will be hard to have a picnic that beats eating a Camembert sandwich and drinking Orangina while surrounded by powdery snow and mountains. We then did some more exploring through the trails and off. I saw a lot of cross country skiers and I think that will be my next new winter sport to try. I hear it isn’t too hard, but that it takes a lot of muscle. Unlike snowshoeing. Okay, we weren’t really doing hardcore snowshoeing. I saw some professional-looking people with ski poles that seemed to be heading for more difficult ground. But I’ve been getting enough pain from snowboarding, so I didn’t mind a sport that was slow and injury-free.

View from our picnic.

View from our picnic.

After our day of snowshoeing, we got ice cream in the restaurant down below. I know that ice cream is an odd choice for when it’s cold, but I can’t resist Mövenpick, one of my favorite ice-cream brands. Plus, you could watch skiers falling on the surface lift. I know it is horrible to be entertained by other people’s misfortune, but I have had bad run ins with the surface lifts and considering how much I fall snowboarding, I think I have earned it. I’m going to Deux Alpes this Saturday, so entertainment value for others is predicted to be high.

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