I’ve really seen the snow twice in my life. I’m talking snow, snow. That the little Texas flurries that arrive every four years or so. The first time I was at the Grand Canyon. We were told they were going to get three inches of it in the middle of March. lol. Three inches. What’s that? An ant sized amount of snow? We slept in the tent and buddled and cuddled up while the end of the world happened outside. The tent had this bulbous swell hanging over our head when we woke up in the morning. I unzipped the transient shelter, and I’ve never laughed so hard in my entire life. The place was scorching white. Three inches of snow is not an ant sized amount of snow. It’s a The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe amount of snow.
The second time was last week. If you missed me around here I was up in Canada backcountry camping. I was supposed to go to Montana, but Montana was on fire, and because of an online friend recommendation I ended up in Banff National Park. When I left to have the entire park to myself the forecast said occasional thunder storms, which is just what to expect everyday up and in the mountains, and snow on Thursday. I asked what snow on Thursday meant. I’ve been in dire situations before because of intended ignorance and wanted a nice comfy and cozy trip. I was told it’s too early in the year for it stick. Cool. I was off.
Wednesday came and I was the only person on Earth. No one else was around aside from some birds, and some bear tracks, surreal mushrooms the size of personal pizzas and smeared with bloody jam, and the constant ringing in my ears reminding me it’s just me, and only me.
I climbed out of the forest, damp and frigid, and went through a mountain pass composed of a long multi-colored meadow, angelic dandruff covered mountains, and the majestic, this is way too beautiful to be on this Earth glacier fed waterfalls that fall into a glacial lake so clean and clear that it reflects the landscape around it. In this state, I was just consciousness. I was no longer trapped in these legs and these bones and strewn inside all these guts. A water faucet was all I was.
I climbed up and out of the pass. I came back to. I could feel my legs and my shoulders gently sobbing with weight. The sky was blue up ahead, the perfect contrast with those old gray and crumbling mountains. With a storm at my back I hurried through the valley below so I could set up camp warm and dry and climb inside if the afternoon precipitation was anything more than rabbit turd sized ice. During the scurrying, the mountains to the left sucked up the storm. I was in the clear. I hiked up to my own private green and teal lake, made my little home, and hiked to the source of the lake, another glacier fed waterfall. Soaked from water holding bushes I went to bed before the sun went down.
I woke up Thursday after night time trampling over my head. Warm in a fancy bag. I expected hail and rain and maybe a little snow. It wasn’t a little snow. It was more than enough snow to stick. I was inside of a snowglobe. Fat white globs came down from the sky. The mountains surrounding the lake were hidden among snow clouds. Think only of now. Don’t think of what’s ahead. Pack up and get going.
Following the up and down of the creek through snow covered pine trees, which is the only good pine tree aesthetic, I crossed a gate, damp and warm, and eventually came to the intersection of get out of there now or go up and ahead and for it. I felt strong and warm and fast. After forty miles on the trail I could see the lowered section and where it follows. My eyes were sharp for cairns and orange ribbons. All that snow walking made everything was zen. I opted to be the cowboy.
The next section was of course uphill snow trudging. Just me and the snow and another sublime mountain pass. Constantly forced to take my hat off to prevent sweating, trying not to die in cotton clothes, being confused in this swirl of foreign slush, in an alien land, I caught snow flakes in my hand. Reminding me of folded white paper cut at various sections. A river the color of childhood bath water. I kept climbing up and up waiting for the trail to break flat and even, and cut like a smeared bird to the right into the next valley.
When it did I couldn’t see. The snow went up to my mid calf. The trail was swallowed up. Everything was so bright, it was blinding, it was like a videogame when the protagonist you control gets knocked out and comes to under a burning overhead light, it’s the bright light I expect to see once this incurably healthy body no longer is. There was no trail. Just a comical amount of snow. I couldn’t see. The white strained my eyes. I saw rainbow spots and thought I could faint. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.
Confused, my hands were on my side. The map showed the trail started at a creek. I saw a creek, but couldn’t be 100% sure this was it. I tried to be the cowboy, but I wasn’t the cowboy. Walking back through my old foot prints I slipped and slided. I stepped on a bannana peel and fell on my back. Ashamed and soaked, I checked my pack. My tent was missing. This could become a nightmare. I dropped everything, and trudged back up to the top of the pass. Where I just was. Rocks looked like my tent. Hunks of trees looked like my tent. Nothing was my tent. My tent was all the way back up where I turned around. Exhausted, and starving, I put my tail between my legs and slipped back down.
Everything was ho-hum from there. I stepped in my old footprints. The snow kept plopping down. Crunch, crunch, crunch, the snow started to harden. I put my hood on and kept eyes low and focused only what was in front of me. I was back at the intersection. I headed downwards from there. I was out by 7:30. A twelve hour day, an 18 mile hike or so, chocolate milk and a $50 room at the YMCA.
I always thought I hated the cold and the snow. I know now that I don’t. I hated this WInter version we have down here. Everyone who lives where the sun is a novelty and not a constant fixture in their lives has something they hang onto during that time of year. Whether it’s snow shoeing, or skiing, or ice fishing, or snowboarding, or ice skating, or hockey, or snowmobiling, there’s something that gets them up and out outside the door to enjoy what I thought to be an impossible to enjoy time. For me, the thing I hold myself to once everything is dark by 6:00 p.m. is locking myself in my room and not eating and staying in on Friday nights and spending my time with my words and other people’s words. But now, I’m ready for the cold. I think I can seize it and enjoy it. Find fun in the windy gray. Savor the flannel sheets and Brazos jacket. Laugh at crunchy hair from morning showers. I won’t just wail around and plod and plot for what I’ll do once the sun is back again.
Anyways that’s all I got. The floor is yours to talk about whether it’s Texans related or not. Just remember the standard commenting rules apply.