A few weeks ago Snowshoemag was up in Estes Park for WinterTrails Day. I thought I’d make an appearance to appease my public, fuel my burgeoning celebrity status and try out my new Atlas 1230s.
Being mobbed by adoring fans is not as easy as it sounds, dear readers! Think squealing teary-eyed teeny bop girls in old “black and white” Beatles concert footage. Intense!
I stood there proudly with my shoes strapped on, gazing past the cameraman with a disinterested look while Ryan watched behind me and rolled his eyes. I made statements like “that’s right, I’m Marcus the Intern” and “sure, you can touch my ratchet bindings, but I don’t autograph body parts.”
That’s when I noticed a certain onlooker; a kindly older gentleman observing amusedly as I stomped around drawing attention to myself. Dave Felkley, who goes by the moniker “Bigfoot” and endearingly resembles a grizzled mountain prospector, approached to dispense a single pearl of wisdom.
“Your snow shoes are on the wrong feet, son.”
I blushed. I yammered. “Of course they are…I wear them like this because…of the angle…and I’m right-handed…with the snow…oh who am I kidding?! I don’t know what the hell I’m doing!” The cameraman who was gathering shots for “WinterFeelsGood” thought it was a Kodak moment and caught it all on tape. Thank God that moment was immortalized. From then on, at least for that day, Bigfoot would be my snowshoe guru. It turns out he was more than willing to oblige, and his energy and ardor for the sport were contagious.
Bigfoot is an interesting fellow. Born in California, probably last place on Earth I would have guessed, he’s made his home in Nederland, Colo.
“I find California is a nice place to be from, but I’ve traded the sand dunes for snow dunes,” Bigfoot said.
He practically wrote the book on snowshoeing. Literally. He was the editing author of the fifth edition of “Snowshoeing: From Novice to Master” the first edition of which was written by the late Gene Prater, co-inventor of the Sherpa brand snowshoe. “It’s more of a how-to rather than a where-to book.”
Dave’s clever contributions to the book include a series of side-bar tips entitled “Bigfoot Says” where he offers pointers, often humorous and always helpful. Advice for noticing the gigantic “R” and “L” on your own snowshoes apparently did not make the cut.
A resident of Boulder County for more than 30 years, he did some competitive mountain running in the 80s (he’s climbed Pikes Peak 12 times) and now enjoys spreading the gospel of outdoor activity and snowshoeing. He teaches several clinics and leads guided hikes around Boulder Valley.
“I just did an event with the Blackhawk Rotary and I work with Lifelong Learning through Boulder Valley Schools,” he said. “I also take the local scouts out on snowshoes and do a lot of fun stuff with senior groups as well.”
Bigfoot offered this sagely observation about the nature of snowshoeing and winter in general. “Snow changes all the time. You can go over the same trail, one that you’ve been on before, and when it snows it’s different. I’ve heard that some Native cultures have thirty words for snow, and they use them as adjectives. Where we’d say ‘hard packed’ or ‘powder’ or what have you, they use these words.”
“Native words like ‘Sasquatch’”, I thought with a chuckle.
My conversations with the dedicated and optimistic Mr. Felkley made me appreciate the tracks he’d left on the trail. With my shiny new snowshoes clamped on tight, I ambled down the trail behind him.