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In 2005 I crashed and hit my head on a ski slope at Lake Tahoe. I had rented a pair of short skis and tried to keep up with my younger cousins who were tearing down the runs. For the first time I wore a helmet, which protected my head somewhat.
Cross country skiing worked out for my husband Dick and I for a while, but then balance challenged us, along with lack of control on hills.
“Let’s try snowshoeing,” I suggested. We both bought snowshoes and reserved a room at Devil’s Thumb Ranch near Winter Park.
The following are my notes I took at Devil’s Thumb: We drive up from Denver, have lunch in Winter Park and get checked in Devils thumb by 3 p.m. It is the middle of January and the pine trees are still decorated with colored Christmas lights. It’s bitter cold, 9 degrees below zero with a cutting wind. I feel frustrated with my snowshoes because as I’d get one buckle done, the other metal prong would pop out. A man at the door helped me get them buckled.
.I waddle out the front door in my snowshoes, clicking down on the cement ramp. Now I’m in the snow but no see no trail. I squat down and snowshoe under a chain stretched across two posts. Very carefully make my way through the deep snow. One snowshoe pops off. Drat! Removing my mittens, I manage to get it back on.
When I hit the groomed trails, I gaze around and see I have the entire snowy ranch to myself, not a soul in sight. Pastures covered with snow and the late afternoon glow lighting up the scene. Where is everyone, I wonder? Where is Dick?
I am wearing my purple wooly shirt, knit jacket, a black down short jacket under my heavier long down coat with a balaclava over my head. I look like a masked terrorist with only my dark glasses showing.
Mind you this is not typical clothing for snowshoeing, but it is so cold you could freeze a fried egg on the sidewalk. The wind cold wind blows snow across the wide path obliterating the tracks I was trying to follow. A slab of snow forms over my path.
The wind continues to howl and blows right through the material covering my face. The wind chill is 20 below. But I feel exhilarated with the exercise of snowshoeing and inhaling the beauty of the wide expanses of snow.
Still I don’t see my husband Dick. I don’t have my cellphone. So quiet, the silence, the beauty of silence. The sun is setting barely above the horizon, and it’s glow is getting softer and lower. Finally Dick and I find each other.
It is a lot of work to get up to the mountains in Colorado. But it is definitely worth the trouble. Snowshoeing is a treat in the middle of our long winter ahead.
Mary Stobie is a public speaker, author and lover of the outdoors. Contact her at www.marystobie.com. Or at her email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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