"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

18 November 2014

First Shoeings

An almost bluebird day...

After a six day cycle of storms, the snow is just deep enough for snowshoes. We agressively researched this circumstance on a brisk day by going down the canyon as far as the ruins of the Lebanon Mine, which the narrow-gage railroad uses for tours in the summer. There were still spots where we'd hit against root and rock. So it goes. It's still early season. Our getting out on the snowshoes spoke to our own sense of desperation.

The snow was slightly deeper along the warren of wagon roads that make up the old townsite, but that's because of slightly higher elevation. However, three days out from the last snows, some of the trails were already fairly tramped down. After all, the place is a bit of a whore. It was a bit of an effort to find a place to be first tracks. Then again, in case you haven't met me, I can be tenacious.

Already the snow has started to sculpt familiar trails into other worlds, unique for that stretch of winter. Always a fascinating spectacle to behold. More snow is on the way within the next few days. Sabina counts down the weeks for our hut trip. In those weeks, it'll be a given we'll be out on the snowshoes, if, for no other reason, than we need to be conditioned.


  1. In my part of the Rockies, mountain ranges with broad valleys, the snow tends to be sculpted by the wind, in the valleys it often looks like sand dunes, formed by wind. Walking across them, with 6 ft Alaskan snowshoes would make a long trail, the broad width followed by the dragging of the narrow, alder curved staves bound with caribou sinews. I was lucky to have those snowshoes....when I moved up to Alaska in '74, I went to a Saturday local market in Talkeetna, found a Athabascan man selling them. He said his father had made them one winter in Tanana. I bought them for 20 bucks, in years since feel bad about that.
    They creaked when I walked....but always felt stable. I could slide down chutes, drifts in them easily.
    The animal parts that hold them together are starting to crack and fall apart....the alder is fine, I varnished them once in the 80's.

    And yeah, conditioned is all. With it, do what you wish. Without it, don't.

    Cheers, off to Seattle on Thursday.


    1. Yeh...I'll just covet those shoes, sight unseen. I can imagine in some of the more open spaces, like North, South, and Middle Park, the snow gets like you describe. Perhaps up on the high alpine as well. My valley's rather narrow, and the wind can make some interesting shapes, but nothing like sand dunes.

      Safe travels.

  2. I just had this vision of a mountain village being completely buried in snow and the way the people manage to keep breathing is by the huge telescopic, upwardly-mobile pipes emerging from the ground, pushing through the snow until they find fresh air above the snowline. And these huge air pipes would run through the houses and businesses like our sewer tunnels connect us beneath the ground.
    (I've been dreaming up a lot of sci-fi shit lately. No idea why.)

    1. That sounds very much like the blizzard of '03. The tunnels part, that is. Gotta love those hundred year storms.

  3. I need to add snowshoeing to my bucket list. If my honey and I are ever in your neck of the woods, will you take us!?