I planned to begin this post by saying that I am the only person in Vilnius or Kaunas wearing pull-on ice cleats over my boots. However, last weekend I met another American who wears them, which only serves to prove my point — I am obviously a foreigner.
Vilnius is a dangerous place to walk these days. It snowed last week, then it warmed up and the snow turned to slush. When the temps dropped below freezing again, all that slush became sheets of ice covering the sidewalks. That’s when I pull out my trusty pair of ice cleats. In 2009, I used Yak Traks. In the process of packing for this trip to Lithuania, I somehow misplaced them. Now I have a pair of ICEtrekkers and I am very pleased with them.
I’m amazed that more people don’t use pull-ice cleats given the amount of ice on the sidewalks. I frequently see people slip and fall on the ice. Yet I always get stared at when I am putting mine on or taking them off when entering and leaving buildings. The look doesn’t say “wow, she’s smart to wear ice cleats”; it’s more of a “what’s that strange woman wearing” kind of look.
Sometimes I let my vanity get the best of me and I don’t put them on. Last Saturday I chose not to wear them for a two-block walk from the drug store to home. Sure enough, I hit a patch of ice and down I went. Pride does goeth before the fall. I decided that I’d rather be embarrassed by ICEtrekkers than embarrassed by ending up on my fanny on the sidewalk or, worse yet, breaking an ankle or wrist.
I don’t need the cleats as much in Kaunas. The temperature has stayed below freezing so the snow doesn’t melt and then form ice. The daily fresh snow mixes with the dirt spread on the sidewalks and is much easier to walk on. Laisvės Alėja does have patches of ice, but they can mostly be avoided by walking on patches of clear sidewalk and packed snow. But I still make sure that I have the ICEtrekkers in my bag just in case I need to slip them on.
Photo courtesy of gear.com