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Sun And Snowshoes

Michael Clawson - Friday, January 06, 2012
Winter in the Sierras this year has been unusually dry; there has been little snow, and more days that feel like spring than like winter. This means, among other things, that a rare set of conditions has held: Gold Lake Road, which is not plowed during the winter, is still open, giving us access to hiking trails much higher up than normally, but there is (or was at Thanksgiving) still enough snow left from the early storms on those trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. So during Thanksgiving weekend my mom and I borrowed some snowshoes, loaded the dog into the car, and headed up the mountain for an afternoon in the snow.

We started at the Round Lake Trailhead, and found that the old snow, which would have been too heavy and sticky for comfortable skiing, was easy to negotiate in snowshoes. The dog had a harder time of it, but his enthusiasm was up to the challenge.


This was my first time snowshoeing, and the day was perfect. The late afternoon sun shone through the tall pines onto the snow, the high blue sky above giving us the best of what a Sierra winter can offer. It was strange to see landmarks and trails I'd hiked last summer covered in snow--I'd never been up here in winter before, when it's normally only accessible on snowmobiles. I marveled at how it all looked both new and familiar. Because of the snowshoes, we could wander over areas that, in summer, would be blocked by dense stands of manzanita bushes, meaning our route meandered over ground on which I'd never actually set foot. At one point we crested a hill to see Long Lake spread out before us, glittering blue among the black and white of snow-covered rock.


Hiking on, we crossed creeks and little open spaces that in summer would be scattered with wildflowers, buried now beneath their blanket of snow. There was no one else but us, the only sounds the crunch of snowshoes, the occasional birdcall, and the sighing of the wind in the treetops. When we spoke, our words were brief and quiet, as if we were reluctant to disturb the serenity of the mountain air.


The shadows had begun to lengthen around us when we reached Round Lake at last, three miles from the trailhead. We looked down at the partially-frozen water cupped in its bowl of stone and smiled in wonder. As we turned and pointed our snowshoes toward the trailhead to begin the return trek, I thought to myself that this might be the only time in my life that I have the privilege of seeing sights like these in late November, and I felt gladness warming my body in the chilling air.


The glow of the sun on the snow and trees turned the world to gold, and our shadows, stretching out before us, guided us toward home.

*Originally written by Kira Bohm.

Michael Clawson is ‘Chief Fish’ at Big Fish Creations, an advertising and digital media company in the Sierra town of Graeagle. His background began in Silicon Valley when Apple Computer and Adobe Systems first made their mark in Desktop Publishing. He was introduced to interactive media early in his career, transitioned to production artist, and later, creator and lead principal of an Interactive Department at a major advertising agency. Specializing in branding across multiple media platforms, his diverse repertoire includes a hybrid combination of designer and developer with emphasis on graphic design, branding, photography and communication.


Comments
Gears Of War Toys commented on 11-Apr-2012 10:29 PM
I loved the story, Kira, you have an amazing ability to write, and your creative mind is simply breath-taking!

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