Editor's Note: The following is a verbatim transcription of a chapter from Spalding's Winter Sports by James A. Cruikshank, published in 1917 and part of the Ray Ruge Collection at the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Many thanks to volunteer Adam Kaplan for transcribing this booklet. This is our final installment - thank you for reading along!
Perhaps in no outing of the year will the confidence and assurance of the beginner bring such unfortunate punishment as in the winter cruises over the snow and in the cold. Neglect of the simple precautions which the expert has learned to regard as absolutely necessary may bring trouble, not merely to the individual, but to the entire party. It is no small trial to find that, because some over-confident amateur has rushed off on the trip with insufficient preparation or equipment, the entire plans of the party must be changed, or perchance the individual will become the ward of the group. A severe frost-bite, a shoe too tight, an ill fitting binding of snowshoe or ski, a broken snow implement- these are generally things which can be avoided with a little anticipation and forethought. It is no joke to attempt to guide or carry home some husky amateur who has paid the penalty of foolhardiness by starting out ill-equipped; nor is it pleasant to be left alone by a sputtering fire in the heart of the snow laden woods while somebody strains to get help. One such experience will cure anybody, and it will also break up a pleasant outing and some of its friendships.
The best plan on all winter outings which take the party any considerable distance from headquarters is to select and appoint a captain known to be familiar with the work in hand. His opinion should be final. He should even have the authority to refuse a place in the party to those who are not properly equipped. This is the custom among many of the oldest and strongest winter organizations of the country, whose winter outings increase in popularity and interest every year.
It is important to keep tally of the number of persons in the party and to “count noses” occasionally, especially where the going is bad and when teams are taken for the return trip or for distant points. In laying out trails, care should be taken to leave marks indicating any possible deviation in the route, either by arrows drawn in the snow, paper stuck in a split stick and stood up in the trail, snow mounds, or broken branches laid across the trail not to be followed. In snowshoe work the leader should adapt his stride to the shortest member of the party. In hill climbing he should make short steps, and the following members of the party should place their snowshoes accurately in the first track so that the steps do not become ragged and useless. Among the valuable items of the equipment, for either individuals or parties, are maps of the country, a compass, drinking cups, matches, knife, extra length of rawhide for possible repairs, safety pins, length of strong rope wound around some member as a belt. A folding candle lantern will often be very useful.
It is not always agreeable to make an extended stop for lunch, and many of the most enthusiastic winter cruisers carry only such lunch as can be conveniently eaten while en route. Shelled nuts, raisins, sweet chocolate, triscuit, malted milk tablets, and crackers, are some of the best quick rations. Snow should not be eaten. If thirsty, a few raisins, lime tablets or even a bit of lemon eaten with a little snow may be used.
Frost bite is the special thing to guard against in most amateur winter outings. It occurs with so little warning that the best plan is for each member of the party to watch the faces and ears of others in the party and give warning. The presence of a white spot should immediately be called attention to, and remedies applied. The first aid in this case is brisk rubbing with a woolen mitten, or glove, on which fresh snow is placed. In the case of frozen parts keep in the cold air and apply only cold treatment such as snow and very cold water until color and sensation return, when warm applications may be gradually used. Vaseline or any other greases should be applied after the frozen part has been brought to normal appearance.
The continued use of snowshoes when the snow is very deep and heavy may bring on Mal de Raquette, most dreaded of all the winter troubles of the far north. It is caused by unusual and severe strain upon the muscles of the lower leg. The veins become clotted by overheating and the blood is kept in the lower extremities. Sometimes the limbs swell to two or three times the normal size and turn black. The premonitory symptoms of this very serious trouble are numbness of the limbs, lassitude and exhaustion. The remedy is to bare the legs to the skin, jump in the snow and stay there until the pain is unbearable, then rub the legs upward, toward the heart, until the flow of blood sets in. When symptoms are slight, the men of the north content themselves with elevating their feet and legs above the level of their heads as they lie and smoke, in which position the blood flows back into the body.
Snow-blindness is frequent among the habitual outdoor folks of the north and should be guarded against by amateurs. There is no glare in all the year so severe as the glare of the sun from ice and snow. In Switzerland, in midsummer, the glacier travelers apply burnt cork to their faces, not merely to avoid sunburn but also to save the eyes. Automobile goggles are an excellent addition to the winter equipment, or smoked glasses, which should be fastened with a cord to the person. In case neither of these things are at hand, and the glare of the sun seems likely to cause trouble to any member of the party, a very simple prevention consists of a bit of flat wood, roughly whittled into the shape of goggles, and in the middle of which a narrow slit is cut. These are the Indians’ snow-goggles.
No winter outing is complete without a photographic record of its interesting episodes. From the snowshoe tumble, which is so excruciatingly funny- to the other folks- to the tracks of wild creatures in the snow, there ranges every form of pictorial possibility. The equipment, however, should be light, simple and carried in waterproof and snow proof case. A box Kodak of set focus is always ready, and has many advantages. The postal size folding camera crowds it close in winter value and has scenic uses the cheap instrument lacks. One should remember that at no time of the year is there so much white light as in a mid-winter noon, and that the early day and the late day have deceivingly small amount of white light.
James A. Cruikshank was an expert on outdoors sports during the first half of the 20th century. Born in Scotland but spending most of his life in New York, he was the editor of The American Angler magazine, Field and Stream, and wrote numerous articles for a wide variety of other magazines and newspapers throughout his career, including the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He also published at least three books: Spalding’s Winter Sports (1913, 1917), Canoeing and Camping (1915), and Figure Skating for Women (1921, 1922). He also contributed a chapter on artificial lures to The Basses: Freshwater and Marine (1905). In addition to his writing, Cruikshank was involved in public speaking, doing talks on outdoor sports sometimes illustrated by motion pictures. An avid photographer, Cruikshank’s photos often featured in his illustrated lectures, his articles, and his books, as he encouraged readers to take their own cameras out-of-doors. He had a home in the Catskills as well as a home and offices in New York City, and in the 1930s he helped found the Hudson River Yachting Association. At one point, he managed the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink, and another in Rye, NY. His wife Alice was also an avid camper and hiker, and they often traveled together. In 1909, Alice went “viral” in newspapers around the country by being the first person to blaze a trail between Mount Field and Mount Wiley in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (James brought up the rear). James and Alice eventually moved to Drexel, PA and were vacationing in Lake Placid in July of 1957 when James died unexpectedly at the age of 88.
James Cruikshank went on to publish another book, Figure Skating for Women, in 1921, and remained a steadfast supporter of women in sports and outdoor photography.
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