To the east of our house, on a short trail through the woods, is a pond/marsh, in the approximate middle of which is our property line. In the summer months one can barely see the pond from our house but as fall progresses into winter, and the vegetation withers and the trees lose their leaves, the pond becomes visible.
Each of the past three winters I've made a ski trail around the frozen, snow-covered perimeter of this pond. It's a place that affords me a quick outing without having to drive anywhere and I appreciate it for that reason, even if it is a flat and relatively short loop.
The first two winters, I broke out the initial trail with only my skis. I later found that if my skis deviated from the tracks, even a little bit, they would slip off and sink into the soft, unpacked snow.
So last winter, I finally got smart and stamped out the initial trail with snowshoes, giving a wider packed footprint. I made a pass all around the pond in one direction and then retraced my steps in the opposite direction. Only then would I take out my skis to set a track on the packed snow.
The surface a few days ago, before I stamped out a trail.
Setting this snowshoe path first was especially important last year because of the large amount of snow we received off and on all winter. To keep the track viable, I have to pack it down after any significant snowfall. And if it's windy, the trail can be completely obscured in places by drifting snow. Sometimes, only the faintest indication of the trail I previously made can be seen. That happened a few days ago when I went to repack the trail after a recent snowfall of a just a few inches. Wind-drifted snow on the eastern edge of the pond made it almost impossible to see where I had packed the trail before, leaving me to make my best guess.
Sometimes, the pond freezes over before much snow has fallen, and small drifts, here and there, dot its windswept surface.
Curiously, even though the pond has other homes besides ours around its perimeter, I've never seen any other people out on the pond. But I do often see tracks of wildlife, deer and other critters, who make use of the trail I've broken.