Winter Fun in the Cascade Mountains
March 4, 2013
This weekend was the annual Team Survivor Northwest Snowshoe Event at Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades, and it was my one day to play in the snow this winter. (Although winter is not yet over, and March can hold some surprises. My mother always used to say of March, “In like a lamb, out like a lion.” And this year in Seattle, March 1st was a mild day. So it is always possible that we might get a snow storm yet this month!)
I, of course, wanted it to be actually snowing, but the temperature was too high. We were fortunate that the rain held off while we were in the mountains. (Back in Seattle, it was a very rainy day.) The light was flat and gray, and the magnificent tall trees along the trail were cloaked in darkness. The colorful jackets of the cross-country skiers and showshoers along the trail contrasted sharply with the dim, cloudy surroundings. It was still and quiet though at times we could hear the hum of the distant freeway traffic.
There was something almost gloomy about the still forest in the muted light. Along parts of the trail, trees were moss-laden or furred with lichen. I came to play, but this wasn’t a playful landscape on this day.
“Many trees are soulful. These are trees that are old enough and large enough to shelter us. These are the ones that draw a stillness in us.”
– Jean Shinoda Bolen, Like a Tree: How Trees, Women, and Tree People Can Save the Planet
“And there never yet has been a nature writer who, confronted with primitive forest, has not resorted to the vocabulary of architecture. Indeed, since it has been impossible to visualize or verbalize nature in terms free of cultural association, the woodland interior has been habitually conceived of as a living space, a vaulted chamber . . . curved and bent boughs and branches suggesting arched portals to some grandiose vaulted hall.”
– Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory
My eyes were drawn to the branching patterns on the tall evergreen trees. They seemed quite fern-like.
I was startled to see blue — almost a tropical blue — in the shadows of the snow along the trail. Where did this blue come from? There was no sunshine to reflect and refract the light on snow. It was as if the snow held its own glowing lantern. Miraculous!