Monday, February 9, 2009
How Long Till Spring?
I am not sure, but I believe Ole Dangerous is talking to himself again. What really worries me is when he answers. I thought I heard him mutter something about seeing a robin in a tree. I have also heard him talking with friends planning an early spring hike. While birds and hike talk might mean spring is on the way, I have an even better way to tell. Snow melting off the lawn leaves me few, if any, fresh places to go. Having trouble finding a clear spot is a better predictor of spring than some rock chuck seeing its shadow.
For the life of me, I don't understand why Dangerous and his buddies don't like winter. I love the cold and snow. Maybe it's my thick sheep dog coat, because I like spending all my free time outside in winter. I really enjoy the back country this time of year, and occasionally, I can get Dangerous to take me snow shoeing. We get to hike snow covered trails that we ride during the summer and fall. It's kind of tough on an aging outdoors man to pull on his gaiters, strap on his snow shoes, and put on his pack to chug up a steep snow covered trail. He seems to forget that Dottie and Little Guy pack him and Utah Jack up these same steep trails during warm weather.
With all his complaining, Dangerous enjoys getting out with his son Ben. They aren't the most elegant snow travelers, but we don't see many people. When we do, I act like I don't know them. That's a difficult sell with Dangerous screaming at me to leave the other winter hikers alone. Dangerous might give me a bad time, but I take great pleasure in watching his son poke and prod him. I suspect Ben is getting even for all the crap he took over the past 36 years. I have only had to put up with it for a short five.
Their equipment is dated, and their outfits are definitely army surplus. They look out of place when we unload at the trail head parking lot. They complain about all the snow machines leaving the parking lot, but dress more like the riders than the elegantly outfitted hikers traversing the non-motorized trails on snow shoes and skis. Whoever saw a real snowshoer or skier wearing a ball cap? Even those riding expensive snow machines have the good sense to pull on a stocking cap and water proof gloves. Dangerous can't finds his stocking cap, and he believes his leather riding gloves are good enough for snow shoeing. I am sure Dangerous has a stocking cap somewhere, but like most things, he can't find it.
While the Pine Hollow Trail isn't the High Plateau, it's not bad for anyone starved for outdoor adventure. You get to follow a stream blanketed in snow. The towering peaks are a bit intimidating with their imposing snow covered cliffs. Seeing them gets you listening for any rumbling sounds of avalanche danger. In summer, you look for a shady tree to have lunch under. This time of year that same tree will drop snow down your neck if your aren't careful, and it's hard to find a spot to sit to keep your butt dry. You don't see much wildlife, but the snow leaves great sculptures that you can speculate about.
I know Dangerous believes snow shoeing is a poor substitute for riding and hiking the High Plateau. But, there are only so many books to read, movies to see, or television programs to watch. We have to find ways to pass the long cold hours waiting for the sun to return. When it gets here, we will be off again. In the mean time, we take in an occasional movie and read a lot of books, or I should say Dangerous reads to me. By the way, I give Gran Torino four paws up. You should have seen me sitting in that comfortable reclining chair. I was the only dog in the theater. I howled madly for Clint and his yellow lab, and you couldn't believe the treats. I found a perfectly good hot dog under my seat.
Well, I would like to know how you pass your time during these long cold months. Let me know, and I will pass the information along to Dangerous and his buddies. I really enjoy hearing from you.