Friday, December 17, 2010

Mal Due Raquette - snowshoe sickness

The French Canadians had a great name for it, when you went lame while using snowshoes.

Mal due Rackette or Snowshoe Sickness must be experienced to fully appreciated.

It can occur as a result of a person using snow shoes for the first time and/or is not physically fit. Even an experienced snowshoe user can get an attack when snowshoeing long distances in deep snow.

The main muscle on the inside of each leg at the groin becomes over taxed with the constant lifting of each foot and snowshoe out of the deep snow in order to take the next stride. The nose of the snowshoe must be lifted high enough to clear the snow and this results in an exaggerated lift of the knee.

The weight of the snowshoe and the snow on it, seems to get heavier and heavier with each mile trod.

Eventually a person reaches the stage where all the will power cannot lift the snowshoe up out of the hole one more time. If you are miles from home and in deep snow you are now trapped. You are an invalid in the wilderness. Sometimes a rest of a few hours can improve the situation and if you are not alone the other person will break trail.

The experienced outdoorsman will pitch camp and try again after a good night sleep. Some times it can take a few days to recover. The experienced outdoorsman usually has learned about "mal due racquette" many years previously and starts building up his muscles on short snowshoe trips before risking any long distance journeys.

Personally I learned my lesson the first time and went to considerable trouble to make sure it did not happen again. When it strikes you have trouble walking on flat snow free ground and shuffle along like a very old person. It can also strike the ankle joint but that usually occurs with people who are totally unfit and should stay home by the fireside.

Never go on a long snowshoe journey without making sure your companions are all fit. Society does not look kindly on people who abandon their trail mates and leave them behind to freeze or starve to death


  1. I haven't snowshoed in quite sometime, but back in the day, I was in snowshoe daily running a small trapline and hunting small game. I have never heard of this condition called; Mal due Rackette. Surely, I have experience tired legs, but not to the point of the flatlander shuffle was the way to get around.

  2. Well, I had to Google it! The spelling that was often returned was; mal de racquette! Looks a bit more french like, eh!

  3. On a beaucoup dit et écrit sur le mal de dos, desormais pour remedier definitivement a ce probleme, Acheter Tramadol sans ordonnance en pharmacie en ligne avec livraison rapide partout dans le monde.

  4. In his book "The Wild North Land" published in 1873 Capt W.F.Butler, from page 162, he describes his problems with "mal de raquette" along with his failed remedies. This journey was in 1872. Of course he was running at some pace, next to his dog sled, often for 18 hours a day and covering over 50 miles, in that time and on a near empty stomach. I think that this might explain why Bill thankfully did'nt encounter the condition.