Behold the beauty of the western United States. (Click the panorama for a larger picture) Marvel in its magnificence. Kowtow to its comeliness. This is where I have been for the past week.
Here, in the shadow of the Rockies, I traveled with my girlfriend’s family north into Winter itself and rented a cabin in the wilderness.
(NOTE: It is odd how I left the east coast at a balmy 45 degrees Fahrenheit only to discover it is now in the negatives! Got out of there just in time, I’d say. It hovers in the positive single digits here at its worst.)
On our first full day in rural snow-country, we went snowshoeing. It was my first time. Apparently there is usually a lot more snow on the ground than the good six inches under our feet at the trail-head. This was the lowest elevation on which we would stand today, though, so I was already sufficiently impressed.
After strapping on the odd contraptions and grasping poles in hand, we set off. After a bit, we came upon this helpful map:
After studying the trails for a bit, we decided to head right to the summit of the hill and gaze upon nature’s visage. Just because I’m such a helpful helper, I snapped a picture of it with my iPhone (its only use, since we were well out of cell service). And we were off!
We made it to the summit and beheld the view (see first picture). We stopped for a selfie:
And then we made our way down. And no, we were not going to simply reverse our snowshoes and retrace our steps. We were witnesses Gaea’s spendor! We consulted the iPhone picture (good on me, right?) and mapped a route back to the trailhead.
An hour later, we found ourselves blazing our own trail through up to two feet of snow. So we backtracked. Then we found ourselves on a cross-country ski trail. So we backtracked. Then we found what we thought was the correct snowshoe trail, but this only made a tiny loop and reconnected with the cross-country ski trail again. So we had to make a decision.
It was now late afternoon, the sun sitting low in its easy chair on the horizon. Something must be done. It was decided we would follow the ski trail. After all, based on the map (thank you very much), this trail should take us directly to “The Hub,” wherein we first saw the sign and snapped the life-saving picture itself.
(NOTE: I was pretty proud of myself for taking that picture)
The ski trail, however, brought us to a crossroads of ski trails that existed nowhere on the map.
After more discourse, one of us discovered he had a bit of cell reception. He fired up the ol’ iPhone and turned on his compass (thanks, iOS). South was the direction of choice, because that led back to the trailhead and parking lot. We turned right and made our way down that ski trail.
After a bit we came to another “hub,” complete with several intersecting ski trails and THIS ONE HAD A MAP! Huzzah! Unfortunately, it was a completely different map than the one we had previously seen:
Perplexed as we were, we decided – dash it all! – we would just follow the ski trail all the way back to “The Hub” (the original), and then follow the actual snowshoe trail back to the trailhead.
Glorious day when we happened upon that original sign with the original map. Our error, it seemed, lie not with what direction in which we chose to go, but with the fact that the first map we came upon was not specifically a winter map. It had all sorts of hiking trails on it, too.
Safe and sound, though, we made it back to the cabin, where we could marvel upon the splendor of our cat: