18° outside this a.m., 57° in the bedroom. Fahrenheit. Prediction is for 10° below 0n Sunday morning. Our last post was a prayer for snow. New England neighbors well south of us got more than enough at that time, but here, where there is plentiful use for it, snow on the ground was patchy, old and stiff. No good for skiing or shoeing. It’s been like that all winter. Yesterday we got a very pretty fall of 4 in. which helped some. Usually by this time we’ve posted some snowshoeing entries. We went through level woods past the snowy stream and our neighbors’ on shoes, exhilarated, impressed of the great beauty all around us. And the sun shining through trees from above the slope opposite. This picture was taken this morning at temperature check.
In previous winters it went something like this:
It can feel like a mistake during the struggle. The up-and-down, back-and-forth; the climbing over, bending down; all while wearing the webbed giant shoes—full of holes to get hooked on snow-hidden deadfall and send one down, twisted, maybe not to rise again. Or to go on like nothing happened. A little something happened and you’re …? The snow is what one wallows in, head cattawumpus: too deep to push out of without some aid. One friend of Allen’s dropped unexpectedly into a deep crevice. He had to dig himself out, upward, using one of his snowshoes. With my hips and knees in their current state of slow and painful decay, it’s no easy thing even to get the shoes on and off. Position is everything and conditions don’t always allow for positioning.
I’m recalling a snowshoeing episode on this very slope, but two seasons ago, in the opposite direction of yesterday’s trek. Sliding and floundering into and out of some difficulty or other with tangles — where it might have meant disaster. That time I left no note… and the snow was as deep as one might like for a good outing. But I’d make a mistake. The “mistake” namely of following deer tracks. You see, I’d found their lying-down places up back of the house. They might have looked down on me from above as they doze off in late twilight or early starlight, as is their wont. That is, looked down on our small log house from their nestling beds in deep deep snow.
So …. Who knows what a trek will bring? The struggle is a given on these slopes, finding no trail, yes. But the rewards? They are those best summed up in words of Edward Abbey after one of his desert treks. Lost, maybe injured, maybe struck by the sun, without water or direction; saying over and over: “I’ll never do this again.” But when he is out of it, seeing some recognizable form, some rock ridge, the familiar broken saguaro: a sight of the car by the road. Sitting down next to the car, leaning into it. Oh. Oh, can’t wait to do that again.