After it all went dark | I stood out in the below zero temperatures, all bundled up, and wandering these snow-covered trees high up in the mountains. After it all went dark, I stood there, by headlamp, alone. There was the crunch of the snow, and there was the brush of my jacket against the trees that enclosed on the trail. Eventually, I just stopped. I stopped moving; I stopped thinking about where I needed to be. If you looked up through the low trees you could see the stars glinting on this clear night. You could see the sky painted with lights, as they swirled around my vision. Past it all in the dark, there was this beauty. I stopped and stood there in the dark; alone; in the cold and covered in snow; gazing at this world. Oh, how it’s changed me.
A re-edit of one of my favorite landscape photos that I took this past year. It started out thinking that this summer sunrise was going to be a dud, but we were soon rewarded with the clouds breaking past us and the mountains around us lighting up with color. I’ve honestly lost count as to how many sunrises I’ve seen, but I can tell you this was one of the best.
Sky kept wanting to steal my @thermarest and my sleeping bag last night. Even as I was packing up this morning, she came right up and sat on it like this here. With her making this face, I could hardly bring myself to move her. What a good little trip this was. Thanks to @tiffnault_ and Sky for the company!
We had just broke treeline | We made the decision quickly, after encountering unbroken trail around 4:45 a.m., to continue on. It was what it was. If you can imagine trying to keep up a pace of around 20-25 minutes per mile while snowshoeing through knee-high snowdrifts on a steep trail off of little to no sleep and in below zero temperatures, this is what it was like. When we finally broke treeline, our morale was pretty diminished. We were entirely happy to be out of the woods so to speak, but I think Jack’s face actually shows it well here; it did not feel like success. That is the reality of these mornings - they so easily can betray you and break you down. It’s the choice to go back out the next time that makes you strong.
Mount Madison being kissed by the first light of the day, and the Madison Springs hut hiding in the frost below it | I wish I could take every single moment of this hike and add it up to one photo. This hike was incredibly trying, and tiring both physically and mentally. When we finally saw the sun and this scene, I think every bit of me shuddered; feeling a sense of resolve and acceptance with how the morning played out. It may not have been to our expectations; but that’s just it, the mountains rarely are.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a deeper blue than I saw this morning before the sun came up. Full of untouched snow, and trees full of white cake. My favorite time of day, and my favorite way to spend it 😌
For another day | Both @jproberts and I have been dreaming up a winter sunrise on Mount Adams for a long time. A bold 4+ miles through steep and exposed terrain, but we were both set on it. We thought this morning was going to be it. Just about everything was pointing to that until about half way up the mountain when whoever had been on the trail before us, had decided to turn around. This meant the trail hadn’t been broken the whole rest of the way. Two feet deep snow in parts and nasty snow drifts up an already steep trail. It wasn’t spoken, but we both knew once we encountered this that we weren’t going to make it in time no matter how much we hustled for it. When we finally broke treeline, the horizon was already it’s orange glow that meant the sun was on its way. Smiles spread across our faces, but our timing was painfully off, as we still had over a mile and a half to go, if not more, and all of it exposed. We agreed to head further up until the sun greeted us, and then call it. Exhausted, as a word, doesn’t even cut it. It was the perfect day too, cold, but hardly a whisper of wind. Now, home, and still exhausted, we are left but to dream again. For another day.
Why we push our limits | After being indecisive most of the morning about what I wanted to do with my day off, I decided I would do more than one thing. A multi-sport day, they call it. I went for a road run first, something that I honestly wish I had more time for, or at least more than I do now. After a easy-going 5 miles, I went home, ate lunch quickly, changed, and drove to the trailhead. It had been a while since I last did Mount Jackson. Last winter, I think. Despite today’s forecast, there was still the itch. I knew, from having looked, that it was going to be pushing my limits. The itch was still there. I had been in temperatures in and around -40 before, so I knew what to expect this time around. I packed just about every warm layer I had. On the hike up, I could tell it was cold, but my body seemed to disregard it. It was just about the last summit push, that it hit me. The wind, it’s always the wind. What I had been in before just didn’t compare. Sustained winds of over 40mph and temperatures, well, I don’t know for sure, but I can say it was colder than the -40 I had experienced before. I can’t honestly say why we push our limits; or why I push mine for that matter. It’s a strange feeling when we do, and a stranger concept. The mountains have always been my comfort, even in these times. Even in these bitter, biting times, they have always been there for me. I left the summit of that mountain today just after sunset, and only was left with silence. I think it’s fair to say I’ve found my limit, but that ever-creeping cold that sinks in and batters the strength of your gear and your morale is a feeling I’ve found comfort in. Just as the mountains before me; that feeling, it’s never quite left me.
A growing morning | Everything starts somewhere. For a sunrise, it may start dark and gloomy. It may start surrounded by clouds and moisture. It’s start doesn’t always entail it’s life, or it’s ending, though. These morning’s grow. These morning’s start and then grow. Each one is different than the one before. That is the insatiable part of them; ever changing; ever growing.
I’ll go on into the singing wind, the depths of the heights, and the world that exists in these isolated landscapes. I’ll go on. ——
Taken on Mount Monroe as Jack and I ascended the steep terrain and broke trail into the alpine zone. All day, this hike and the light was like a dream. Seemingly endless amounts of fresh snow and making fresh tracks.
Morning reflections at the cabin | We all woke up slowly the day after New Years. Slowly made coffee. Slowly stepped outside to take in the fresh snow we got the night before. Slowly made breakfast. Slowly moved around. Slowly packed up. Life is way better when lived slowly. Never rush. Take it in.
That time when we went on a sunrise hike, we were about an hour early, we went back down the mountain because we thought it was gunna be a dud, and then through the the trees, we saw the sky and landscape light up with color. You can imagine how we were kicking ourselves for leaving and laughing the whole way home.
A retreat high up in the mountains | It feels like this solo trip of mine was just a few weeks ago, but it’s already been over a couple months. Days seem to pass a lot faster here in the North country. Part of it might be that I am always filling my days completely. I’m definitely going to fill another couple of my days back here this year.