Monday, 10 December 2012

Shortened December Days

From the end of a logging road at the end of a valley, we find ourselves skinning through old-growth forest with a deep ravine on our right.  As we climb, the ravine shallows and soon we've arrived at a headwaters of sorts - an elevated meadow rimmed by a steep ridgeline of trees, chutes and spines on one side and a mellower shoulder on the other.  The sky is blue and the near-solstice sun is perhaps providing just the tiniest bit of warmth.  The occasional wisp of High-Cirrus lingers off in the distance.

We gain the ridge at a low col and contour up to its crest.  Cirrus is building steadily overhead as we drop-in for a short run to get a feel for the snow.  Up for another, and then another which finds us on top of something a bit more real: longer, narrower, steeper.  These early season hurdles which we methodically surmount each year are part of the process of preparing for the months and objectives ahead.

At the bottom with heart and legs pounding, the light is just starting to fade.  With time for one more, we retrace our steps one last time, arriving at a sub-summit just before dusk.  The sky is grey and crystallized droplets blowing around us confirm temperatures are dropping.  I put on every piece of clothing I have with me and then start down for our last, and longest, run of this short December day.


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