The Zen of Snowshoeing

Winter Image by Koppdelaney
Winter image by H. Koppdelaney

Zen and Winter Walking

I hope you like this photographic image of the serene beauty of winter. It was not put together by me, but instead the surreal landscape comes from the image bank of Hartwick Koppdelaney, who most graciously allows general non-commercial use of his photographic artwork. Even though the figure in this picture is not wearing snowshoes and the image is a composite of several pictures, the snowy scene accurately conveys the solitude and beauty of snowshoeing.

Snow-covered road leading into the Wheeler Peak wildernesss in New Mexico, photo by author

Road to A Wilderness Trailhead

Last week on a free day, I grabbed a pair of aluminum frame snowshoes (hardly anybody makes wooden shoes anymore), took a shuttle bus to the Taos Ski Valley and followed this snow-covered road to the Williams Lake trailhead near the Wheeler Peak wilderness in northern New Mexico. Just a walk along the graded route was a joy of discovery, because of the remarkable view of the mountains, which towered just over 13,000 feet. Williams Lake my final destination has an elevation of 11,040 feet and sits in a glacial cirque at the base of these mountains.

Williams Lake in Northern New Mexico on a sunny January day, photo by author

My Destination

In January, Williams Lake is frozen solid as a rock and covered with several feet of snow. Because of the ring of lofty summits that surround the small body of water, it is a wonderful spot to sit and ponder the mysteries of life. Winter adds a special kind of beauty and peacefulness to place, as does the hike in, which passes through a beautiful spruce forest. Another advantage of winter is the lack of a crowded hiking trail, for the alpine lake is a popular hiking destination, especially in the autumn, when the leaves turn a golden yellow.

Cloud formations above the Sangre de Christo mountains, photo by author

Clouds From the Bottomside

Since the walk out was just about all downhill, I had a much better chance to take in the stunning mountain landscape. As sunset quickly approached, the overhead clouds took on strange shapes, accented by the sun that was located low in the western sky. The high ridge line of the ring of mountains, which circled Williams Lake, made me feel very small as I continued my descent back to civilization.

High mountains near Wheeler Peak in New Mexico, photo by author

Reflections On the Walk Out

Overall, I felt very fortunate to be able to access such a place by public transportation. I don’t own a car, so traveling to Nature’s most spectacular locales is often not a viable option. Furthermore I enjoyed my view of the sky as day slowly faded away and turned into night. By the time I made it back to the base of the ski resort (located some 1700 feet below the lake) the sun had set and the first evening stars were visible in the night sky.

Montreal In November

Old House on Rue Saint Denis photo by Everett Autumn
Old House on Rue Saint Denis photo by Everett Autumn

I just figured out that I probably going to be stuck here in Montreal for the next week. Actually, stuck is an inappropriate word, for a thoroughly love Montreal and will enjoy my extra week here immensely. This extra time will me a chance to catch up on all those things I mean to do, but never got around to.

The cause of this action is two-fold. First, the bus prices to NYC just got jacked up for the Thanksgiving Holidays, so I’ll be saving money in that regards. My original intention was to arrive in the Big Apple on Thanksgiving Eve and stay in the city for Holiday Madness that follows. However the idea of spending Black Friday in Canada, which celebrates their Thanksgiving Day on October 12 grows more appealing as the holiday approaches.

December will still be a fine time to spend a week in our most popular city until I head south of the Mason-Dixon line for the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

The other factor that comes into play concerns my overall reason for the journey and that is spending time with my family. A week or two wait might actually enhance that visit as well.

Meanwhile here are a few pictures from around Montreal to give readers a chance to partake a glimpse of these vibrant bi-lingual Canadian city.

Color abstraction from two "No Parking Signs, Montreal
Color abstraction from two "No Parking Signs, Montreal photo by Everett Autumn

And finally a humorous look at Canada’s bilingal¬† program, which is evident everywhere.

The Lonely Writer

To Fly Free In Space, credit; STS-41B, NASA
To Fly Free In Space, credit; STS-41B, NASA

To write is a little bit like this lonely astronaut, cruising through the black void of outer space in a manned maneuvering unit, wearing a spacesuit. His persceptions of the heavens must be extraordinary,
but his feeling of isolation is extreme. Actually his spaceship is just a hundred yards away and when he returns he will undoubtedly have a unique viewpoint from which to tell the world.

Such is the reality for many writers as they plod through the solitary struggle of trying to put a bunch of words on paper that actually make sense. Hopefully, the other portion of one’s life is full of social interactions and a busy calendar of literary events. This is the case for many, who follow the literary craft; in fact quite a few are something that might be described as social extroverts.

In many ways the writer is like this space traveler or maybe the wanderer who seeks solace within the great expanse of the wilderness or hinterlands. The physical explorations will quite likely result in some wonderful insights and exciting new knowledge, but after the journey, one still has to return to the ranks of modern society. Nonetheless, these new found treasures should not be retained just for one’s own personal enjoyment, but instead the thoughts and learning needs to be shared with the general public. Such is the task that the modern writer faces today, no matter where he undertakes his journey.