March 15, 2010. This winter paved the desert over, storm after storm laying down two-to-three feet of whitetop, setting spring back by more than half a month. Since December 21st, I’ve been out only rarely, the deep snow creating hazards well beyond my abilities to negotiate them. Who knew that when I moved to southeastern Utah I’d find myself wanting a pair of snowshoes? Last year I hiked all the way through winter, staying home only when snowfall piled up over eight inches, which it hardly ever did.
I tried going out yesterday. An overnight cloud cover had insulated the ground against a freeze. The result: dense but soft snow, still ranging in many place from 10-20 inches deep, and on bare ground mud so fluid that, holding still, you moved, gliding on a sloppy escalator whichever direction happened to be €œdown. € Every step on snow resulted in a 10-20 inch drop straight to the ground, a vertical fall I’ve learned to move with on a limited basis. The body learns from falling, but when it happens every footstep, you expend a great deal of energy moving the least distance forward. Meanwhile each footfall on mud resulted in movement barely under control in an only slightly less vertical plane. Downhill in spots I surfed muddy rolls and creases, riding the soles of my shoes like mini-shortboards. Continue reading “Field Notes #10”