Manchester Land Trust hosts snow shoe clinic

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Tue., Feb. 22, 2011
Gary Gunn of Manchester crosses the spring-melt stream that feed Risley Park. EMS guide Reed McKinney assists. Photos by Martha Marteney.
Gary Gunn of Manchester crosses the spring-melt stream that feed Risley Park. EMS guide Reed McKinney assists. Photos by Martha Marteney.

The Manchester Land Conservation Trust recently paired up with Eastern Mountain Sports to host a snow shoe clinic at the Land Trust’s Risley Park. More than 20 people joined the clinic to learn about snow shoe equipment, packing supplies for winter activities, proper gear and how to snow shoe.

“This is a beautiful area,” said Greg Gunn of Manchester. It was his first time at Risley Park. His wife bought him snow shoes last year, and he wanted to take advantage of this walk to learn more.

Susan Pierce has been with the Land Trust for 10 years, is on the Board of Directors and serves as program coordinator. She had wanted to coordinate the snow shoe clinic for the past few years, but lack of snow was an issue. That was not a problem on Feb. 19. Pierce thanked Jerry Reid for plowing the parking area of all the recent snow.

“I always wanted to snow shoe,” said Manchester resident Deb Flower. “It’s a great opportunity to learn something about it. I’m glad the Land Trust is doing it.”

Reed McKinney, EMS guide and floor supervisor of the South Windsor store, opened the clinic with a discussion on the different types of snow shoes available. Aluminum frames work best on flat or rolling terrain, and have less aggressive cramp-ons, or teeth, to grab onto the snow or ice. Plastic snow shoes are more flexible and have cramp-ons the length of the shoe, which helps for walking on side slopes. The plastics are tested to be flexible, even at 60 degrees below zero, he said.

“Layering is important,” said McKinney, “and cotton is not your friend.” Synthetic fabrics have wicking properties that keep any moisture off the skin so that it can dry quickly. He suggested layering with a lightweight t-shirt, followed by a slightly heavier weight long-sleeved shirt. For the outer layer, McKinney prefers a non-down pima loft, because it is more wind and water resistant than fleece. He also prefers wool or wool-blend socks versus sock liners, which can bunch up and cause blisters. Layering is also important under pants, and gators can be used to extend the boot up the knee and keep snow out of the boot. It goes without saying that a comfortable, waterproof boot is essential.

EMS guide Darrell Delong, a Manchester resident, addressed the need for packing supplies, even for a short hike. “In the winter, you’re using twice the energy,” he explained. In addition to water, he recommends packing some snacks that are sweet or salty. He also carries a first aid kit, a small repair kit, a second pair of gloves and a foam mat. The mat can be used for multiple purposes, but is especially useful to avoid sitting in the snow and getting wet.

Once equipped with snow shoes, which were available for rent from EMS, the group headed out across the trails. Although snow shoeing is very much simply walking, it does take a few steps to become adjusted to the large shoes. Some people use poles to help balance on uneven trails, and to prod under the surface of the snow. For many, the poles came in handy crossing the spring-melt stream feeding the pond.

“I’m glad I came and learned the accessory knowledge,” said Diana D’Angelo of Rocky Hill. “I also came for the beauty.”

The Manchester Land Trust is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that owns more than 336 acres, primarily in Manchester, but also in Andover, Bolton, East Hartford and Vernon. Risley Park is comprised of 130 acres and can be used for all types of outdoor activities, including hiking, snow shoeing and fishing. No motorized vehicles or motorized boats are allowed, and swimming is prohibited. Risley Park is located on Lake Street in Vernon, and the parking area is located opposite Amy Drive.

“We’d love if people are interested in volunteering to help in any way,” said Pierce. For more information about the Manchester Land Trust, visit the website at, or contact Susan Pierce at 860-646-7447.


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