A few days back, one of my neighbors was going on about how sick he was of snow. Sure, it's gay and fine in December, January, and February, but he was ready for hummingbirds and fishing. Soft heavy flakes were wafting down upon the mountain winds at the time.
Shortly after that, another neighbor mentioned how he didn't mind the snow this time of year. It was warm and didn't hang around all that long. The sloppiness of mud as a backlash was just what you deal with up here this time of year.
Unless it snows a foot the night before and is relatively cool the day after, the snow is not so good for snowshoeing. Even up high. It's a matter of ambient air temperature and solar radiation. The snow is soft in the morning on and crust by afternoon. Cement snow, as a buddy of mine calls it, and, love him as I do, I think that's being diplomatic.
Part of the magic and mystery and coo-coo-ka-chu of where I live is the amount of trails just within walking distance of home. The county's bastions of civilization-and that's taking a whole lot for granted-are surrounded by either national forest or wilderness area. My Kashmir is nicknamed Sahel within the walls of my skull because of its borderland aspect; front range and High Country, past and present, settled and wild. Walking a couple miles from my door, and, boom!, Backcountry. No phone signal and a way to disappear into the ether, either, and or if I so wanted. A man could lose himself in place like this. A man could find himself. Local apocrypha speaks to both happening.
Ain't that the way?
It was that deep cement snow to reach the ruins. Another bit, more snow, and vertiginous narrows, and I'd have crossed that Backcountry border, wandering into our outback. I sometimes parallel our mining ruins as the closest we get to the antiquities of Egypt, Greece, or Cambodia. Accepting the ancient cliff-dwellings, of course. As a documentary film maker I met the other night expressed, out east, nothing is completely abandoned. Here, in the American Maghreb there lie the bones of whole towns and civilizations. Stories kept silent unless you know how to listen.
I took in the view; grand peaks and town just below. A and I fucking live here! moment. I was only going as far as I could in soaked and mud-encrusted boots and gaiters. That's only as far as I wanted to go. Some of my most profound walkabouts are the ones with no set destination or even mileage. The other secrets and mysteries further out will still be waiting for me. Their phantasmal whispers tease my ears and ruffle my hair in the mountain breezes. Sooner or later. I have time and relentless curiosity.