The Ungraceful Goose (AKA Me)

6 02 2012

That’s what I felt like.  I probably looked even worst.  But I vowed to do this long ago, and today was the day!

J got me a rockin’ pair of snowshoes for my birthday, back in November, and I have yet to try them out.  Saturday morning was b-e-a-utiful!  Right after lunch, I pulled on my tights, wool socks, underarmour, fleece, another pair of socks, snow pants, head band ear wrap thingy, gloves and jacket…. I took a break to rest, then out the door we went!

snowshoes Winthrop WA

new snowshoes!

I think I really needed the Vitamin D.  The sun has never felt so good on my face.  I live on the east side of Washington – we get tons more sunshine than the dreary west side.  But the winter has seemed so gloomy and stormy.  I was out to soak up as much sun as I possibly could!

We drove up towards Winthrop and turned off toward Sun Mountain Lodge – the only resort that the community has thus far allowed in the valley.  They maintain some fantastic cross country ski trails we hit up a couple weeks ago.  But that was not our destination today.  We parked by Patterson Lake and crossed the road.  Oh that’s right – the time had come for me to tackle Patterson Mountain – in the winter.

Patterson Mountain Winthrop WA

At the starting line

I climbed this little mountain (a really tall hill is more like it – maybe a butte?) back in the spring.  It’s not like summitting Rainier or anything, but it gets you up above the valley and is a great work out.  The trail is steep enough to wear me out pretty quickly anyway.  And I’m a maniac on snowshoes, so this was a monster goal for me.

You see, I’m not the most graceful creature walking this earth.  Flat sidewalks sometimes trip me up, I’ve had a wall or two smack right in to me, and on occasion, my feet will get confused as to who’s Left and who’s Right.  Hiking is trickier for me than for the average person.  Now add snow and ice into the equation, and put tennis rackets on my feet – great combo.

Back to Saturday…we got all strapped in and headed up the trail.  And by trail, I mean hard-packed, mega-trampled, don’t-even-need-snowshoes kind of trail.  Ppfff, I don’t need no stinking snowshoes!  But they were already on, and there was no way I was taking them off now.  One foot in front of the other, I tried to keep up with Justin the Speed Snowshoer.  I had to pick my feet up a little higher, and set them down farther apart than normal.  Not sure what to do with my poles at this point, I kind of just flailed around with them.  I teetered a bit to each side as I lifted up my feet.  I must have looked like a gangly, newborn goose.  Make that a gangly, drunk, newborn goose.

It’s not like I’ve never been snowshoeing before.  I went once about 2 years ago in Bend, OR, with my sister and a co-worker, and J and I went about 100 yards once last winter before sheltering under a tree due to bad weather.  But seriously, there’s not much to it, how hard can this be?!

The stupid trail was sunk down so far and was sometimes so narrow that I kept kicking my snowshoes.  I stepped on my own feet multiple times, and once I flat out tripped myself and fell over sideways.  Maybe if I had wings like a goose I’d actually have better balance.  And my poles were no help at all!!

I trudged, tripped and stumbled on.   We came to a gate where the trail splits; one way towards the lodge, the other to the top of Patterson.  Up we went!  But not long after this intersection, my clumsy feet starting behaving a little better.  The trail was less traveled here, which actually made the going easier on me.  I started looking around and enjoying the insanely gorgeous scenery.  I felt like a snowshoeing SUPERSTAR!

Showshoeing Patterson Mtn Winthrop WA

Queen of Showshoeing!

I started noticing details that I had been too preoccupied before to notice.  Like the bobcat tracks meandering along near the trail.  And the tip-tops of a few bushes that managed to be tall enough to not be buried.  And the crazy-cool patterns the wind had sculpted into the snow, the fabulously sparkly snow!

At what I think was about half way up, I realized our trail was no longer a trail – we were simply following a set of ski tracks.  We must be the first brave souls (since the last big snow) to venture this far up!  And as I noticed the tracks veering off to the left when I wanted to go straight up, I stepped off INTO THE VIRGIN SNOW!  That’s right ladies and gents – I broke trail from then on.  J was the smart man who let me lead, knowing I wouldn’t even realize that I was doing all the work.  But this was so much more fun!  A lot of work, yes, but that was mostly just the incline we were climbing, and the weird crusty layer of snow/ice we were crunching through.

Before long, after one last little push, I had conquered the beast, slain the dragon, brought down the castle (made it to the top).  I was the victorious warrior, at quest’s end.  I stood and surveyed the splendor of the treasure I had just fought for and won.

And I jumped for joy.

Patterson Mtn North Cascades Washington

my feet are off the ground!!

Then I fell flat on my back in the snow.  Lets face it: once an Ungraceful Goose, always an Ungraceful Goose.

Methow Valley Washington

that didn't go as planned...

We dinked around a bit, took some nice panorama shots, and then prepped for the trip down.  It was hard to leave; without a breath of wind or any sound to be heard, this serene silence enveloped us.  It was relaxing and even a little soothing.  But the sun was going to be gone soon and we had to go.

Going down is actually worse for me, with the slipping and sliding and brutal stress on my knees.  But there’s something so incredible about seeing this expanse of white spread before you and just spreading your arms and charging full steam ahead.  We both got a little giddy and ran/flopped/floundered out into the snow.  (Those last two were more me; all the “running” was done by J.)  It was wonderful, light-hearted, uninhibited fun.

Snowshoeing North Cascades Winthrop WA



The way down, of course, didn’t take near so long.  We were treated to glowing peaks and ridge lines as the sun dipped down below the closest mountains.  It was beautiful.  And we had it all to ourselves – we didn’t see a single person the whole time.

I know there are a gazillion places out there that must have this kind of entrancing natural beauty.  But to be able to say I live in one such place – right smack-dab in the middle of it! – makes me puff up with pride.  And if I have to look like a drunk baby goose to get out and enjoy it, so be it!!




4 responses

7 02 2012

Looks like it was a blast.

7 02 2012

It was great fun! 🙂

11 02 2012
Jumping in Mud Puddles

What great photos. I’m not a fan of the cold, but I could stand out in those surroundings for a few minutes. 🙂 Looks like you had fun!

17 02 2012

The gorgeous scenery definitely makes the cold more bearable…though thankfully it was a really nice day! I do have my limits. 🙂

Give it to me straight -

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