Snow Shoe Grind

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There’s trails that you race up, and then trails that you spend as long as you can on, because you’re with friends: discovery trails.The latter isn’t one I’ve had much experience with but my one outdoorsy friend has come back for the term-at the same time one is leaving-and with both I have never had a trip together. Back then, before we diverged on our separate paths in university, I had never stepped outside my home and she had grown up hiking and camping with family. I never knew that they afforded a trip through europe by camping instead of living in hotels. I never knew that they got to bond as a family over hiking rituals. To see that, and experience it anew with friends, is amazing. I would take it over powder (If, I cannot take them to the powder). To be human, is not after all at the pinnacle of hedonism but togetherness.

Being with a well known group means you have no fear of being left behind and are free to do the things that others might have judged you for. I knew that on a proper hike I’d have to buy overpriced microspikes, but with friends we weren’t frowned upon for only having hiking shoes for the snow, and I was able to go tobogganing half of the hike on a plastic bag. I can only imagine what other hikers might say of that. When we passed a snowshoe’ed man harping “Snowshoes! snowshoes!” my friend’s dad deadpanned, “I know why he said that.” [I thought maybe he was harping over our lack of snowshoes: my thought.] “He was a merchant trying to sell his snowshoes. He was upset we didn’t want them.”

Most of the time we were saturated with the beauty of the place. None of us had been there before, and none of us had guessed such a beautiful side to the commercial resort. It was nearly wild, the latter parts of the trail being tracked only as wide as one person can pass. It was a bluebird day, and all the trees were bigger and the sunlight brighter than we could imagine. We were simply dwarfed, and the arches of trees and sky above us only reminded us more that this place was a gateway to an unforeseen playground.

We shared few words while trekking the steeper parts, and when we did it was either a pun or random fact. Words become economical, we spoke with our bodies, just as we led with our bodies. Tomorrow we’d come to regret sliding down routes of ice and rock and snow on our butts, but for now, we relished in the alleviation in the need for intellect, for connotation.

Sometimes, but rarely, I remember when I was before I worked to have a bigger life. When I am around my high school friends-who all knew me to be introverted, inexperienced and having small aspirations-I am once again someone who is aware of the fragility of the endeavours I make. I’m not grateful anymore, I see how it could all fall apart, if I don’t educate myself enough and get into danger, or lack the proper gear, or it getting in the way of my relationship with my family. And then I relish in the relative safety of everything, and feel again that I am only as small as I feel. Because I have done bigger things, and no doubt those who did bigger things than I were not 100% sure of their ventures. No one is. If you can’t be sure that you can butter a piece of toast perfectly before it gets cold, how can you expect to be able to feel 100% comfortable in situations you haven’t yet faced?

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As we came down, my phone stopped working in the cold weather and anyhow the best parts were spent in motion, so no pictures were taken: sliding down the trails on butts or plastic bags (a great adrenaline rush, gotta try luge one day), sharing food at the top, and pulling out the map and arguing over where we were-classic hiking stuff that I had never done with longtime friends before.

It is extremely fun to slide down the trail on a plastic bag. Alternately, the first 1/4 of the Snowshoe Grind would have made a fantastic ski run. Why isn’t it, Grouse? One day I just might have to be those unlawful people who go out of bounds and sneak in powder.

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Very blue and white and green. Almost new year. Everything looks fresh and new.

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