I’ve been wanting to hike out to a favorite spot up in the National Forest just across the street from our house. This past weekend was a perfect opportunity to do that. The sun was shining, the snow was glistening, and the air was crisp and perfect for hiking, about 20 degrees or so. When it is about 20 degrees, with no wind, and the sun is shining, this makes for a glorious day of being outside. Then to top it all off, the frozen rime on all the trees only added to the beauty of the day.
So we suited up in all the warm appropriate clothing, called the dogs, and away we went. As we walked into the forest, we began to see some very large tracks that were pretty fresh. These tracks could mean only one thing… the bull moose we had seen several weeks ago was still hanging around. And, he was apparently quite hungry. He had dug around deep into the snow searching for plants that were still green.
He left lots of this everywhere too. I think he must have found plenty to eat, because he sure enough left lots of leftovers behind!
The dogs followed every trail they could of the deer, and the moose. I wondered if he was watching us somewhere keeping a close eye on us. The tracks were quite fresh, and he couldn’t have been far away. But we never did see him.
We walked on the trail that the snowmobilers had been kind enough to make for us. It made for a lot easier walking when you could walk on the snow that had already been packed down, instead of sinking to your knees with every step!
I was snapping pictures of everything I could see. The magnificence of the day cannot even come close to finding itself in any of my pictures. The sparkling crystals in the snow beckoned to us. It seemed as if the ground was alive and waltzing around with us as we walked. The sparkles of light bouncing off the snow created a beauty that caused my throat to constrict as we walked. Is there another word for “magnificent”? I don’t know if there are any words in our English vocabulary that could possibly describe the decadent beauty that this day was offering to us.
At one point in the hike, the trail spikes upward sharply. It was at this point that I began to wonder if my legs were going to hold up for the rest of the journey. The snowmobilers had deserted the trail at this point, turning and going a different direction than we wanted to go. They had sped off through the open field. We were headed uphill. So each step we took was in deep snow, not to mention the steepness of the trail.
Finally, we made it to the top of the ridge, and oh…. The beauty that was spread out before us like a feast. To look in every direction was the beautiful frozen rime covering every single leaf of every single tree in feathery white magnificence. The mountains off to the horizon were also covered in snow with purplish shadows as the sun sparkled in a million different places.
We stopped to catch our breath here after reaching the top of the ridge… but it was hard to catch our breath… because it seemed I could hardly breathe with the beauty of it all. We stood there in frozen silence for what seemed like a very long time. It was too beautiful to try to add words to the moment. We just stood there silently in awe of the masterpiece spread before us.
We traveled over the ridge to another ridge where you could look out over a whole different direction. You could see all the way to the closest town. You could even see the cars traveling over the bridge, yet the stillness, and peace of the forest was not broken by any distant noise. It was completely silent up there, as if all the world were just immersed in the beauty of the moment too. There wasn’t a sound at all, except the heavy breathing of the dogs.
As we began our trek back down the hill, I hated to leave this place. I wished we could stay much longer… but alas, I knew that I couldn’t mess with teenagers and their hungry bellies… and so because… dinner needed to find its way to the table... it was time to go.
Our weary legs began to make their way back down the mountain, one step at a time in the deep snow. The dogs raced off as we began our trek back down the hill, but they came back soon enough with their tongues hanging out, licking the snow and panting heavily. They were tired too!
It took all the energy we possessed to maneuver our way back down the mountain. I felt like hanging my tongue out with the dogs, but I didn’t think it would do me any good! So instead, we called our daughter to meet us where the trail forked at the road, instead of walking the remaining quarter of a mile to our house.
When I plopped down in the seat of our vehicle, the dogs splayed out beside me. I didn’t feel so bad. They were pooped too! I hadn’t seen them that wore out in a long time! Trekking through knee-deep snow is a workout that your body doesn’t soon recover from!
But the exhilaration of seeing such beauty overrode any complaints my muscles were making. My heart was refreshed, and my soul renewed even if my muscles were in agony!
When we got back to the house, the dogs and my husband all crashed. I wanted to. I really did. But… I knew that hungry bellies would soon be showing up expecting to be fed… and so I reined in all the remaining ounces of energy I had left to get dinner ready.