Tagwinter

4:45 AM

It’s 4:45 AM, and I’m watching snow fall and cover my 4Runner parked on the street outside. It’s warm, comfortable in our new house. There’s a silence fallen over the neighborhood. What little noise there usually is, is covered over by the snow.

I’m up writing. And doing a little research in to places to go. The film scanner whirs next to me as I see the results of an experiment using filters. The coffee is hot, strong, and plentiful.

This is my quiet season. A heavy pack on snowshoes at altitude is slow going and hard work. I mostly leave it to other folks. I haven’t been above treeline in the winter in a handful of years. I can camp high with the best of them, I just don’t feel the need to much anymore.

The snow pulls the color out of the mountains, and the only way to capture it is in monochrome. Eventually, I feel bored, and I want to spend my time lower down, closer to home.

But winter isn’t forever. And this year, I intend to push spring, getting out early and going farther this year. Maybe out to the badlands early, wait for the spring to come to the mountains while shooting in the wide open spaces.

Soon, I’ll have more film rolled for the 6×9 camera I’m starting to use. I have a proven hiking rig sorted out. I’ve got a wider circle on the map to explore. Every year, I go further. And every year, I want to go further still.

I never want to lose that.

A strange idea of fun

I don’t have many pictures of paths in winter time. Honestly, I don’t spend that much time on paths in winter.

I have the gear to get out in the cold. Well, except for snowshoes and those are pretty easy to come by. Just jaunt down to the REI and rent them for a day. But honestly, I tend to stay down low and out of the snow as much as I can during the cold spots of winter.

shoot-523Winter changes the landscape. It makes it more challenging. It’s not just the monochromatic snow covering everything and making it a little harder to properly meter photos, it’s the fact it slows you down, sometimes tripling the amount of time it takes to get somewhere on foot.

And somewhere along in the huffing and puffing, I always question my sanity.

“OK self,” I’ll think, “Here you are again doing something dumb. It’s freezing. The wind is howling. You just had to stop for a bit to get your breath back so you could curse at the weather. I’m pretty sure what we’re doing here is not what people generally call fun.”

And in a general sense, it’s true. Most people don’t think it’s much fun post-holing up a trail in slushy snow with a 35 mile an hour wind blowing on you to be an amusing undertaking for a Saturday afternoon. Especially when you’re having to keep an eye on the clouds to the west in case they want to come overhead and dump more snow on you.

But not all exercises are purely for fun. Some of them are just to see what happens. Just to see if I can make it.

shoot-521This particular exercise was not successful. The mountain won, and I trudged back down, disappointed. But even in that, it was at least a partial success. It told me I need to work on some areas of fitness, and it’s time to replace my boots. Extra huffing and puffing caused by taking two steps forward and sliding back was not as productive as it could have been.

And yet, hidden in all the swearing and floundering, I was still having fun. Unconventional fun, but still. Between that and what I learned, I still called it a win, and then trudged back down the mountain.

I’ll get it next time.