Backcountry Bliss

Some of the most personal and intimate moments we have as mountain folk are the times of quiet and introspection in the midst of beautiful scenery.  This in of itself may be one of the main draws to living in mountain communities.  From cross country skiing in Grand County, backpacking in the Maroon Bells, or lazily floating down the Arkansas in Buena Vista, the West holds many opportunities to explore the rugged, rural, and magnificent landscape we call home.

As the snow begins to fall and stick (finally!), many of us snow lovers start making plans to do the dance of winter.  As a plethora of options abound, one of the most understated and easy to access is snowshoeing.  Easy to learn, inexpensive to rent (or buy) gear, and different levels of challenge make this the sleeper sport of the snow.

The first time I snowshoed was two days before Christmas up at Brainard Lake outside of Ward, Colorado.  It was a cold but calm morning and I had not expected much. Snowshoeing, to me, was simply hiking in the snow.  However, within the first mile, I was pleasantly surprised.  The snow was falling hard and it had a dampening effect on the sounds in the woods.  Looking around, I found myself alone in a winter wonderland akin to a snow globe!  The snow was getting deeper and I soon realized that the trampolines on my feet were gracefully floating on the snow, making every movement more of a glide than a step.

With my dog rushing ahead and bounding in the snow, we made our way through the pines to a lake in the middle of an alpine valley.  The snow kept falling but I no longer cared if I could see an inch or two from my face!  In my several years working on and living in the mountains, this was the first time that I had found my blissful mountain dream moment and it alone became the predominant fuel for my fire.

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