January 13, 2013

Snowshoes help vets get outdoors

Profits from shoes made by veterans go toward taking other vets and active troops on wilderness adventures.

By RACHEL OHM Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Dave Giampetruzzi, 63, of China, a 43-year Army veteran, fabricates a snowshoe in his cabin at Pine Grove Lodge, a 50-room hunting and fishing lodge in Pleasant Ridge Plantation. Giampetruzzi teaches snowshoe making for the Pine Grove Program, which hosts veterans and service members on select weekends for therapeutic wilderness adventures.

Photos by Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

click image to enlarge

Dave Giampetruzzi laces a one-of-a-kind snowshoe in his cabin at Pine Grove Lodge.

After the boards are bent, they are dried for about a week, Howe said. Then holes for the lacings can be drilled and the board can be sanded. The sides can be cut for the toe and heel bar and the shoe is sanded again. It is then ready to be laced. Traditional snowshoes were laced with rawhide, but today the veterans at the lodge use lightweight rope.

Giampetruzzi said the tying usually takes about two hours per pair of shoes, and then they are dipped in polyurethane three times to stiffen the lacings and preserve the wood.

"Once that's done and they're dry, they're ready to go," said Giampetruzzi. The shoes are sold online or at one of the many shows and fairs Howe travels to. They are also used recreationally by visitors to the lodge who want to explore the woods or by people, like Howe, who rely on them to make a living.

As a hunter, Howe said, he is in snowshoes from late November sometimes through April, when there is still snow in the mountains. "A lot of people make their living in the snow. Biologists, hunters, fishers -- for them, these shoes make a difference," he said.

For others, the art of making the snowshoe is a reward in itself.

Terri Perry, 43, of Gorham, an Air Force veteran, began making snowshoes at the lodge last year. A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and a car accident involving a moose in Alaska put her in a wheelchair and she isn't able to work, but she said making the snowshoes provides her with a sense of accomplishment.

"It took a while to get down the pattern and the measurements. There's definitely a learning curve, but I love doing it. It's a really rewarding feeling," she said.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

rohm@mainetoday.com

 

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