Montana Snowshoeing - The Long Loop

It happens every time. As the sun's warm fingers reach through to part the now emptied grey snow blanket and shine bright messages into my world, I begin dreaming outdoor thoughts! The last two winters that translates into 'Where to snowshoe today?'

In our powder-snow world, snowshoeing is something one begins early and maintains faithfully through the season. Otherwise an afternoon snowshoe becomes a harrowing workout slogging through knee to hip deep snow strapped to snow-gathering paddles which only make extricating one's feet a BIGGER challenge. So, early on I developed three short snowshoe loops and one long one which I have faithfully reopened after each snowstorm. Today, I invite you to join me on the 'long' loop - about a 2 hour trek (when I do not get sidetracked taking pictures or just sitting on a ridge soaking in the silence).

Some storms sputter shyly. Some come and go like hot flashes on a pre-menopausal woman. Some make us wonder if heaven's snowblower isn't pointed our direction. Regardless, if they stick around long, I'm bound to have my work cut out for me. The easy days are when the trail is still visible. The hard days are when I have only my leaky memory to re-mark my prior passing! There? Or there? Or over here?

The day began with broken clouds competing for air space with sunny skies. The tug-o-war continued as I strapped on my treking gear and hit the trail. A recent storm had softened, and in many spots filled, my trail. This would be no casual stroll, but the day invited the time investment. So we took to the draw, dog and I.

I have pondered the name "Narrows Creek" many times as I travel these favored trails. Did the name spawn from the creek's dimunitive width? Perhaps. My imagination prefers to believe this narrow canyon neck brought the name to life.

Critter tracks are common winter trail ornaments. Some become as familiar and comfortable as an old coat. Yet, once in awhile, I stumble upon something unexpected - like this weasel hole which appears to go straight down yet clearly shows the animal went in and out the same hole. Hmmm! I wonder what he was doing?

Deeper into the backwoods we plunge, one snowy step at a time. Stopping to catch my breath, the view over my shoulder leaves me gasping for a different reason. Such a lovely view. One would hardly expect to find such delights in a canyon bottom. I still remember the first time I turned and gaped in shock!

While the Narrows Creek wins the "Most Often Visited" award hands down, there is something about the wildness in this unnamed draw which has pulled me, ever since it first drew my eyes nearly nine years ago. Even today I cannot help but stop and try to capture its illusive wild side.

Nearing the end, my track leads through a large hidden meadow before turning toward the lake - the road - and, around the bend, Home Sweet Home!

Sometimes returning to one's point of origin is something of a let down. Not when "THIS" is your starting and ending point. Even as the tug-o-war continues, the sun gives a dramatic pull, bursts through the clouds, and brightens my way as I drag now-weary feet to this story's end.

Lady of the Lake

1 comment:

Plain Jane said...

Ah! Neat to see these places covered with snow. So foreign yet so familiar! Thanks for taking us along! Delightful.