Of Trackless Slopes…

There’s something tantalizing about the squeaky s-c-runch of dry new fallen snow.  I set out with extra bundling –two pairs of socks, two pairs of pants, two wool sweaters, gloves and wool mittens–for a quick walk this afternoon.  The weather has snapped cold on us with a bracing rosy-cheek sort of  tang we’re not used to here.  It would have been an ordinary walk up through a wooded trail and around the loop and home except for…


Winter’s glory!  Entering the woods with the branches topped deliciously with dollops of snow I had to slow my pace and stop for this picture and that one, and then another…


IMG_7136 IMG_7137

Glorious day!  The sky had turned blue and the winterscape brilliant.  My walk became a series of steps and stops to look again and click the shutter.  This was wonderful enough. But then the trail turned to skirt the foot of Scout Mountain.


And I saw the trackless slope upward…. meaning I could be the first up the mountain in the snow.  You have to understand how this hike is transformed in the snow.  There are no longer jutting rocks, or mossy ledges,  only snow-capped trees and underbrush and  gently mounding snow obliterating the trail and inviting my footprints.   I love snow days on Scout.  How could I resist this alluring detour?  I thought, maybe I’ll just go up part way and then circle back down…There’ll be time for that… And without further thought we set our sights on the climb.  Good old Louie took the lead.  Dogs are so amazing.  They don’t need to see the trail, they seem to have it memorized. Or perhaps they smell it? and off they go.  Huffing and puffing behind I had occasion to think what a sweet thing it is to have a Shepherd through life…when storms come and cover familiar trails, the Shepherd knows the way still and leads us forward… He goes ahead, alert for danger, forever with us and looking out for us.


The hike did not disappoint.  Sub-freezing temp’s couldn’t begin to touch the heat generated in the climb.  The brilliant blue of sky, the sparkling white of snow, the silhouettes of branches trimmed in white…kept luring the camera from my pocket and slowing my steps… IMG_7146IMG_7157IMG_7154IMG_7150

…Until at some point I realized the sky’s blue had faded and the sun was glowing peach and gold.

IMG_7163    IMG_7162 IMG_7170

And what goes up must come down.  Picture-taking took a back pocket to just getting to the top!  And mental calculations, judging from the spot at which the sun hung above the horizon, suggested the direct descent down the face of Scout would be the most timely option for getting home,


scary or not… here we come.  No pictures of this part.  The slipping, scooting, sliding, hollering at Louie to ‘wait up!’, slithering, shuffling, sitting! (oops) and finally the destination—the great green field, now a great white sheet.  And the shepherd, having led the way, now had abandoned his charge in his own urgency to make haste home to his dinner and bed!  Well, he hadn’t quite abandoned.  His retreating figure caught my eye in time to hail him down and insist he accompany me home on his tether… By now the fiery glow of sun was spent, leaving just a haze of pink backlighting the wintry world.


My cheeks felt the glow instead in the bite of wintry wind.  And I was as eager as my dog to hurry home over the squeaking crunch of cast-off snow.


In Honor of Autumn

The sun visited today, perhaps in honor of the first day of autumn…

I struck out for a little hike with some reluctance in my bones. (I’ve gotten ‘creaky’ ever since the return of the rains—Jim says I may make a great barometer yet! Am I that old?!) Today, I drove over to the trailhead to save both Louie and I a few paces. (He’s getting old too.)


For old times’ sake we took the trail to Little Sliammon Lake. I was thinking as I trudged—it’s been 7 years since I discovered this trail. Back then it was a dark and eerie walk through old forest that blotted out the sun, inciting jumpiness—“What was that?!”.


Since the latest clear-cutting the trail seems brighter and shorter. It’s been re-routed to skirt the clear-cut so you walk along just inside the edge of the forest overlooking a hillside of giant matchsticks in jumbled piles strewn over a stark wasteland.

fireweed seed

Not too picturesque, but brighter! The bears will love it come spring when the sun spawns new growth of bush and berry. In the meantime this lull between summer’s blooms and autumn’s blazing displays is pretty drab. Even a thistle is welcome color…

thistle cropped

Ahhhh…today we have the lake all to ourselves


—rippled water dappled with cloud reflections and long silences broken only by raven call, the tremulous cry of a loon, and the whoosh of strong wings passing overhead. A dragonfly zips by on silent surveillance.

louie on dock

Restless with the stillness, Louie scrambles off to chase a squirrel. Its shrill alarm pierces the quiet. And so I sit on this rustic little dock a spell with no agenda (the camera battery has died with the lily pad shot)—listening to the silence and so commemorating the first day of fall.



Others have waxed poetic about this interim season. I’ll leave you to enjoy one of my favorites. Enjoy! –LS

“Storing September”

You ask me what I did today.
I could pretend and say,
“I don’t remember.”
But, no, I’ll tell you what I did today—
I stored September.
Sat in the sun and let the sun sink in,
Let all the warmth of it caress my skin.
When winter comes, my skin will still remember
The day I stored September.
And then my eyes—
I filled them with the deepest, bluest skies
And all the traceries of wasps and butterflies.
When winter comes, my eyes will still remember
The day they stored September.
And there was cricket song to fill my ears!
And the taste of grapes
And the deep purple of them!
And asters, like small clumps of sky…
You know how much I love them.
That’s what I did today
And I know why.
Just simply for the love of it,
I stored September.

–Elizabeth B. Rooney
Sample others by this author at: