Today, I was gliding along the glassy surface of 'cornmeal' snow, three miles up Hellroaring Canyon. Meanwhile, my friend Eugene was capturing Stellar Jays east of St. Ignatius, on his mountain. His strategies for schmoozing birds are as irresistible to them as his photos are to us. His quest for suet to entice the birds is another story altogether. I had never seen blue jays looking so photogenic.
My friend Mary said that last weekend when she was over by Mission Dam, she heard (but didn't see) a bear on the slope, as some scree came tumbling down ahead of him (or her).
No bears today where I was. Just a couple feet of snow, sun pierced clouds, a stray snowflake or two, and chickadees ghosting through the branches. My dog, Sam has used up all his free passes chasing the wee, furry creatures in the woods. So he and I are tethered together for any woods roaming. That didn't work out so well on skis, I can tell you. That dog had me wrapped up like a bundle of newspapers.
Reminds me of roller blading with him a few summers ago. Yes, I had a helmet, elbow and knee pads on. I looked like the Michelin Man. He played sled dog and got me rocketing along the sidewalk until my life started flashing in front of my eyes.
Like his owner, he's an old dog learning new tricks. In any case, we survived that experiment, as we did again today. But Sam had to park by the stream while I went on without him and his leash. That snow was too heavy and deep for any creature without skis or snowshoes. He was still heavy breathing from the exertion when I got back from skiing without him for twenty minutes.
When I lived in Canada, we spent whole days behind Skiff Lake on snowshoes one winter, building a snowmobile trail. It was great fun. At noon, we started a fire and cooked lunch. But the long days in the woods, with 6-7 hours of silence, except for the shush of snowshoes was both exhausting and rapturous. Breathing fresh air all day changes you in ways you wouldn't expect. Spending all day on the ski slope does that for sure. All that oxygen!
This is the first Saturday in a while that I haven't hit the slopes at Blacktail Mountain for a day of skiing. Today they got four inches of fresh powder. Can't beat that. Watching the tiny tots fly down the mountain in long lines like colorful beads, is one of the high points of skiing there. Then there are views and more views.
My biggest problem these days is to decide what to do next. Even when I didn't have the money for a ski pass or a car to get up the mountain, I had these three magnificent parks, all situated on the water, which felt like country right in the middle of town.
What an incredible place to live!