Instead of getting up early, drinking coffee and unwrapping presents, My girlfriend, her brother and I, along with Marshall, got in the Element and drove up Mt.Washington. About half way up the rain that had started to fall upon leaving the beach in Merville, turned to snow. We pulled into a parking lot off the side of the road. This parking lot is outside of the Mt. Washington boundary. It is free to use this land with out buying a ticket from the resort. This spot is popular with snowmobiles, snowshoer's and tobogganers. Fortunately for us the lot was empty and we had the place to ourselves. The previous day I rented two pairs of M.S.R. snowshoes from Valhalla Pure Outfitters in Courtenay. They lent me the EVO and Lightning model. I was able to try out both of these shoes on out 2.25k trek. We walked on a compacted road and also on some undisturbed snow. I was super happy with the binding. They didn't loosen off at all, and were very easy to secure. I could have used more float on some of the fresh snow, as I sunk a little more than I would have liked. The traction was without a doubt the best out there, bar none. 360 degrees of traction around the shoe frame versus just the toe crampon on most tubular aluminum shoes.
I went into Valhalla today and brought the rented ones back. I ended up purchasing a pair of M.S.R. Lightning Axis shoes, with the 5 inch add on tail. This system is designed to allow for less float on packed or wet snow but the freedom of having a smaller shoe. When the snow gets deeper the tool free installation of the tail allows for more float and an easier time. The Axis also has the Speedlock binding for quicker on/off. This was the main selling feature for me on these shoes.
I look forward to testing these new shoes on and taking my daughter out with me. She also has a new pair of M.S.R. snowshoes under the Christmas tree.