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A Frigid, Slippery Trek for No Good Reason other Than Beauty

March 6, 2012

It’s been so warm, I’ve been watching for leaves to pop out on the trees. I was able to dig up 6 or so wheelbarrows of soil and add them to the new garden, and Tim hooked up the hose and watered the trees and the front grass. We decided to check out some chutes to see if there was enough snow for any snowboarding. We’ve been scouting them with binoculars and it looked promising, but not so much that we were going to haul our boards up there without a recon mission first. We drove the truck at least two miles closer than the last time we hiked it when it took us 7 hours to get our single line, and as we parked and grabbed our packs, we could see that the ridge on one side of the draw was melted off. We left our snow shoes in our pack and hiked across the calf high crusted snow in our boots until we got to the bare ground. Side-mountain hiking is not the most fun, but we wound our way into the draw and progressed toward the base of the chutes. As we neared, it was easy to see that the snow was as limited as we feared, but the beauty wasn’t. Tim wanted to investigate a snow slide. I said, “Go on ahead with that, I’m just going to climb this little mountain here.” The dogs stayed with me, backtracking every 5 minutes or so to check my slow progress. Each step was a double push as I navigated the steep slippery face using root clumps to anchor my footfalls. Our sun disappeared behind arriving clouds and as I ascended out of the draw and onto the exposed mountainside, the wind whipped my back. I couldn’t see Tim, he was around down in the lower draw of the chute. It got a little creepy out there. I made some distant trees my goal, thinking there might be a touch of flat ground to stand on. Silly me. The trees were growing right out of the vertical pitch. When I caught a glimpse of Tim, I yelled for him to come up. The temperature was dropping rapidly and the sun was a memory. We decided to stay high and head for the top of the ridge. Slipping down what I just climbed wasn’t too inviting. We found a game trail in the high forest that came and went between knee-deep snow patches and finally we found some decent footing near the top. We took a moment to feast on the view despite my frozen right index finger. We were higher than we realized and we could see all the way to the Copper Basin. A moment is all we could spare. The frigid wind infiltrated our layers, speared right through our wooly caps, and snow niggled into the tops of our boots and melted to pools of chilly water. We split up again. I wanted to drop over to the lee side of the ridge to escape the wind, but the snow was deeper and the crust was sharp. The act of securing my snow shoes warmed my fingers and I clomped along the high ground making good time until I dropped into a group of trees. It was an elk poop wonderland with exposed grassy areas (brown of course), lovely shelter from the wind and I slipped off my gear. As I left the protection of the trees, I saw Tim coming out from his own cloister. Our truck in the distance had grown from a speck to a recognizable vehicle. As we drove the 20 minutes home, our exhausted doggies crashed out in the back and we dreamed of dry feet and my left over homemade pizza with the brown rice crust.

This morning, our world is white again. New snow covers the pasture, the front yard, everything. I see the horses munching their breakfast from where I’m enjoying my coffee in bed, compliments of my darling husband. The wind is blowing loose snow off the house and the mountains are shrouded in clouds. I think I’ll read a few more pages of my book. I’m reading To Kill a Mockingbird, and each page is an inspiration and challenge to be a better writer.

Almost Home!!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Cesar Padilla permalink
    March 6, 2012 8:07 pm

    I felt the cold in my bones but your commune with nature warms me. Dad

  2. Laura permalink
    March 14, 2012 1:13 am

    Your winter adventures amaze me. Plus, I enjoy finding out what writers are reading.

    • March 14, 2012 5:42 pm

      Reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” brings me to this question. Do you have any reading suggestions at the moment…

      • Laura permalink
        March 18, 2012 10:31 pm

        Have you read Anna Karenina? Tom and I are reading it (my third time) and it’s fun to talk about it together. Also, I slip in a chapter from an MFK Fisher anthology here and there. You’re an excellent cook and you might like her writing about food. I read Cutting For Stone lately – tender and illuminating about Ethiopian life, the medical profession, family relationships.

      • March 31, 2012 2:11 pm

        I need to reread Anna Karenina because at this point reading something 30 years ago doesn’t count! I love Cutting for Stone. I recently finished the book you sent me, Drop City. It took me down memory lane and brought me around full circle. I’ll check out MFK Fisher – new to me. Just started reading tinkers by Paul Harding.

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