- by a California miner
When snow lies deep on every hill,
Silence reigns, the birds are still;
Where gold is nestling in the mines,
And dark clefts rest among the pines;
The earth is robed in purest white,
THe sun gives out its dazzling light;
The snow-shoe racers each in place,
The given signal starts the race.
People in cities never can know
How jolly it is to glide o'er the snow.
Down the mountain side, like birds in flight,
or meteors on a starry night--
Bending low to miss the breeze,
Flying past the stately trees,
Rushing down to the flat below,
dancing over the "beautiful snow,"
Falling, rolling, seeing stars--
Then hear the laughing crowd's hurrahs.
Away down the valleys, where oranges grow,
They miss all the fun we have in the snow.
The ladies too with modest grace,
Will take their chance to win the race;
Their hearts may beat with fear or hope,
But each has got her lightning "dope"--
The signal's given, off they go;
Pull wild at starting, scratching snow.
And if the dears are not experts,
The air seems filled with snow and skirts.
They try it again, with faces aglow,
Determined to win or die in the snow.
When darkness o'er the hills advance,
The sport ends with the social dance;
Chill winter thus his pleasure bring,
And water flows with early spring,
The glittering gold that lay below,
is brought to light by melting snow;
The track is gone, but beaming faces
with glee recall the snow-shoe races.
People in cities and valleys may know,
when it's falling there's gold in the snow.
(This appeared in the Mountain Messanger, February 1, 1879)
Though they were called Norwegian Snow Shoe Races, early pictures clearly show that they were early ski races. they did this on primitive hand made skis, often 9 to 12 ft long and had a single pole. Snowshoe Thomson was an early mail carrier that used skis to go his route. A book that I am reading tells of a race in an early Californian Mining camp called La Porte. Snowshoe Thomson traveled 200 miles on his skis to attend and participate, but was defeated. Appareantly, he knew nothing of using "dope" and a crouch position. His crossing the mountains to deliver mail didn't call for that, he was an expert at skiing the backcountry. In the back country he had to turn to avoid obstacles and run up and down hills. The miner's form of skiing was more of a tuck and fly ahead as straight as one could. They considered Snowshoe Thomson's upright style to be effeminate.
Women raced too, but because they wore dresses to race, they generally raced in an upright position. Racing in a crouched position often ended with skirts flying over head. Some women did master this using their single pole to hold the skirt in place, however.