Sunday, February 15, 2009

A winter hike to Galehead is, at best, a long slog, a death march of sorts, the bottom half anyway, because the access road is closed in winter so several miles are added to what is already a long hike. The road is used in the winter as part of an extensive snowmobile trail. You get to walk along the road carrying your gear with snowmobiles passing you at 50 and 60 miles an hour. In the afternoon, as I was skiing back out to the car, there was even a National Forest Service policeman on a sleek, black machine complete with blinking blue lights and a radar gun. He was giving out tickets. He clocked one guy doing 68 mph!

The snowmobiles were a minor distraction, though, because the Gale River is a discourse in beauty. The trail threads along beside the river and is one of the most beautiful places I know. This morning, the early sunlight slanting through the trees (top photo), was stunning. There was a dusting of new snow on everything and a wonderful muffled solitude. At “first crossing” where you have to jump across the river from rock to rock, I feel I've entered another place, another mind, and surrounded by incredible beauty that I become part of it as it flows through me. Today the river was its winter color, that deep emerald green, that contrasts so well with the snow covered rocks. The light, again, was lovely. Coming down this afternoon the light was golden and warm, like butter, February light, shafting through the trees and across the river’s opening creating shadows on the snow.

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