“I grow into these mountains like a moss. I am bewitched. The blinding snow peaks and the clarion air, the sound of earth and heaven in the silence...
I love the common miracles -- the murmur of my friends at evening, the clay fires of smudgy juniper, the coarse dull food, the hardship and simplicity, the contentment of doing one thing at a time: when I take my blue tin cup into my hand, that is all I do. We have had no news of modern times since late September, and will have none until December, and gradually my mind has cleared itself, and wind and sun pour through my head, as through a bell. Though we talk little here, I am never lonely; I am returning into myself.
Having got here at last, I do not wish to leave the Crystal Mountain. I am in pain about it, truly, so much so that I have to smile, or I might weep. I think of D. and how she would smile, too. In another life -- this isn’t what I know, but how I feel -- these mountains were my home; there is a rising of forgotten knowledge, like a spring, from hidden aquifers under the earth. To glimpse one’s own true nature is a kind of homecoming, to a place East of the sun, West of the moon -- the homecoming that needs no home, like that waterfall on the upper Suli Gad that turns to mist before touching the earth and rises once again into the sky.”
-- Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard (Viking Press, 1978)
* * * * *
A month ago it was already spring-like in the mountains, and we had several beautifully sunny hikes on bare ground. Birds were starting to sing, and it looked like we’d be seeing new plants sprouting and flowers blooming any day.
That obviously wasn’t to be, as February’s mostly mild temps transitioned into one of the most wintry March months in memory, with a new snowstorm every week.
We’ve just completed 3 full weekends of wonderfully enjoyable snowshoe hikes. A few weeks ago none of us could have imagined that we’d be snowshoeing 6 times.
Is warm weather finally about to return? That was predicted several times in March but didn’t happen. Forecasts were wrong every week except for some snow predictions.
But starting tomorrow, at long last, daily highs are expected to jump back up into the 50s, and it should consistently stay well above freezing every night now.
Warm temperatures will, of course, melt the remaining snow and put our hikes back on bare ground and on schedule, which looks like the story for this coming weekend.
The chances of another blast of snow are fading away, and we’ve almost certainly done our last snowshoeing till next winter – and can now celebrate spring for real!
-- Charlie Cook