Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Awestuck on the North Arm


When was the last time the world opened up and poured into all your senses until they were overflowing? Do you recall the feeling and can you replay the remembrance in your mind? Some find it on mountain top, in the resonance of music, amidst a river, fast in prayer, amongst dear friends, clinging to a rock, or in the love between souls. The list has no end.

On this day one of those such moments graced my life.

The sun rose upon a transformed landscape giving light to a foot of snow that clung heavily to the scene. Whole trees weary from the weight of the gripping snow leaned to touch the ground. As I drove away from my cabin I was greeted by the first of many inspiring sights. I passed through perfect tunnel of bent trees with the clinging snow blanketing their limbs. I smiled broadly at the exhilaration of bursting through snowy columns hanging limbs finally emerging to open skies.


I left work early, I couldn't any longer stand the thought what I might miss outside the monotonous hospital walls. There was never a doubt as to where I would go. Since the age 4 every summer I had walked the trails along the North Arm of Burnside Lake in wonder. And now I felt strongly pulled to them again. I drove faster hoping to have the woods to myself.

I pulled into the trail head and found that I was alone with the surroundings. I threw my small pack on my back, mounted my skis, and left the civilized world behind. A mere 50 yards in I was already enamored with what I was beholding. Every step floated upon clouds of untouched powder of shin to knee deep in depth. The trees bent so as to greet me.


I stopped in stood in reverence to the sheer silence around me. Not even a breath of wind nor a rustling branch dared interrupted it. Kingly boulders rested capped in a crowns of snow upon the buried and barren bedrock.



Going unnoticed, a grouse leapt from the trail beside me and landed on a limb eye level with me sounding it's alarm a yard from my gaze. We stood without motion eying one another for a long while, before she took flight to a distant limb. Any other time my hunter instinct would have elicited more drastic action towards a grouse, but it was clear that the bird had become clumsy amongst the snow. It would have hard enough time with the season ahead without my attempting to skewer it with a ski pole.

The daylight was waining and the tree's limbs shown golden in the rays of the falling sun. Despite the dying daylight, I couldn't stop; around every corner was painted a unique beauty and I was entranced.


I looked to the pink sky and noticed the white moon still ascending. I welcomed the darkness. In the dim light I set my pack down pulling out some warmer gloves, a down vest, and a headlamp, and headed into the darkness. The trail ahead was lit as if a lantern was hung in the sky. In the moonlight I sailed down powdery slopes heading back.

I drove home in a awestruck and content, brimming with bliss. My heart felt bloated as if over fed with beauty. The greatest tragedy couldn't wipe the smile from my face. Back in the warmth of my cabin, I sat wishing I could have shared the experience with someone else, wondering how would I ever find the eloquence to describe the sheer awe. Even now the preceding words feel inadequate.

Through it all, this day will be preserved amongst the fondest of memories, a day I will hold on to....