Deserts and Blizzards

blue sky 800x533

Seems nearly impossible that last week I was driving to a destination in another state in a snow storm and today, at home, I could hike in 70 degree temperatures with a blue sky…

Went for a short lunchtime hike today. Guess I am lucky to live in a place that has so much to offer in the way of nearby trails and good weather. So while I was enjoying myself, friends on the east coast are digging out of a blizzard.

We are amazing creatures. We adapt to all kinds of situations. We can backpack in snow and in dry deserts. We can create clothing and gear to stay alive, when exposure would certainly mean death. My preference is deserts, but I do relish an occasional winter snow trip. And fortunately, I can get to high mountain snow from my house in less than an hour. And each environment requires different equipment, clothing, skills, and experience. But we adapt.

And so these thoughts mean it is now time to start planning my next snow backpacking trip. Another thing I appreciate about snow is that it changes things. It changes the view, it changes textures, it changes plant and animal life, it creates new visual aspects to familiar locations. Snow can even make the ugliness of an inner city look beautiful.

Trail 600x800As I walked along the trail today, I thought about the mountain trails I enjoy, and how snow hides those trails, and even covers ground that cannot normally be hiked, but in winter can be easily traversed with snowshoes. Sure, navigation can be much more difficult in winter, however, the rewards are often worth the effort.

Snow can turn waterfalls into ice sculptures. Trees take on new shapes with the icicles dangling from branches.

My winter pack is heavier than the other three seasons, and nights are long; but these are not things to cause distress, only a reminder of adventures past and future. Living somewhere that snows every winter is not something that appeals to me, but the trips I take in winter snow do. I like that I can leave the snow whenever I want and go back home.

shapes 800x533One thing I especially enjoy about deserts and canyons are shapes. The shapes that molten lava and eons of water created. These make deserts most appealing to me; knowing that it took hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years to create. In our short lifetimes, it adds a permanence to life — with the knowledge that nature can change all of it quickly with flash floods, earthquakes, and other major events. But winter snow is short and each year the shapes vary. It comes and goes, and I can easily see the changes. I like that too.

So which is better? Neither. Both have their time and place for me.

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