All during the night, I kept looking out the window and marveling at the beautiful, snow-covered forest in the dark. Its beauty is unparalleled, especially as I was lucky enough to experience it under a full moon. Then, as it got closer to dawn, I knew it was extremely cold outside, and I could see the halo at the edge of the world that proclaimed the eventual rising of the sun.
Later, my friend, Hal, and I sat at breakfast, deciding whether we wanted to go snowmobiling or cross-country skiing. I think we both were leaning more toward the snowmobiling, but thought we’d do the skiing first. Part of the reason for this was to get the trees-in-snow shots that I wanted, the main reason for coming up here, and also because I wanted a good hard workout. None of this sissy mountain biking stuff for me anymore! LOL. At least not until I get home and look at my mountain bike begging me to go.
We used boots and skis provided by the lodge, and after trying to figure out what length of skis and poles we were supposed to use (no one knew, and we had to quickly look it up online), we were off. It was in the low 20°s F., and I had on almost every layer of clothing that I had brought. After falling first thing (of course), struggling to get up then figuring it out, and finally getting going, the heavy outer coat came off. So did the balaclava. I’m sure I looked ridiculous, but when I left, I was cold. It took forever to get going, Hal fell, too, but then we kind of got the hang of it. “Kind of.” The only thing that I had trouble with was going uphill because I kept sliding back down with every step I took.
We came to the first burned trees, and of course I had to start snapping photos. Soon, in the shelter of the trees away from the wind, we were quite warm, and the top of the snow had melted and re-frozen into a thin crust. If I skimmed along just right, I was able to stay on top of it, plus I was going downhill. Hal was not so lucky, so I stopped to wait for him. While I was standing there waiting, I looked around. There was a spot in the snow that had a lot of animal tracks leading to it, and soon I realized why. It was a kill. When Hal looked at it, he thought the carcass had been an elk, but it was actually torn apart, with half of it on one side of the trail, and the other half farther away on the west side of the trail. After we checked it out, it was kind of creepy so we continued down the trail, and after a short downhill section, we came to the turn that brought us back to alongside the road. It wasn’t too far until we got to another place that I have been shooting photos in a progression.
We stopped there in several places to shoot more photos. I was really glad that I was on the skis at that point because the snow was deep powder again and there would have been no other way to get back there and shoot those photos.
We had been out a few hours by this time, and now the trail started to be a long gradual uphill. Progress was slow, and we kept slogging along. The deep powder that covered the once-groomed trail made skiing difficult, and I suppose since I have no recent experience, it took forever to get back to where we started. Honestly, by the time we returned to the lodge, I was “done,” and I was glad to get those boots off. They were making my feet hurt because they had no support. The first thing I did when we got the skis and poles put away was get some hot coffee. The next thing was to get my wet clothes off me (from sweating, and the bottom of my pants from the snow) so I wouldn’t get super-cold. That was nearly all of the clothes I was wearing, and I was thankful for my foresight in packing way more clothes than I thought I needed. But I needed them all!
Tomorrow we head home already. I wish I had another day to go snowmobiling, but that, as I said, will have to wait for the future. The purpose of this trip was mainly to photograph the burned trees in snow, and I got many more amazing shots. I am grateful for those, and I had a wonderful time.
Photos to come when I get home!