Snowshoers on the trail

Snowshoers on the trail

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

Lichen-covered trunks of tall trees along the Cold Creek Trail

Lichen-covered trunks of tall trees along the Cold Creek Trail

Moss-laden trees along the trail

Moss-laden trees along the trail

Piece of fallen moss on snow

Piece of fallen moss on snow

Lichen-covered branches

Lichen-covered branches

Fallen lichen on snow

Fallen lichen on snow

Lichen on a cracked boulder

Lichen on a cracked boulder

My eyes were drawn to the branching patterns on the tall evergreen trees.  They seemed quite fern-like.

Layers of branches in a cascade down the trunk of s tree

Layers of branches in a cascade down the trunk of s tree

Branching patterns

Branching patterns

Branches like ferns

Branches like ferns

Fern revealed under melting snowbank

Fern revealed under melting snowbank

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!

Glow of blue shadows on snow

Glow of blue shadows on snow

Pleated snowbank

Pleated snowbank

Something restful about the soft curves of these snowbanks

Something restful about the soft curves of these snowbanks

Slush in a creek

Slush in a creek

Cold Creek Trail at Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountains

Cold Creek Trail at Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountains

Slushy When It’s Going

January 23, 2012

“Snow is snowy when it’s snowing,
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.”
— Ogden Nash

Melting snow droplets on branches

The melting snow looks particularly beautiful as sparkling droplets on tree branches.  Nature has decorated the branches with strings of clear, twinkling mini-lights like necklaces of strung diamonds.

Water droplets like strings of clear lights

Glowing with a halo of snow droplets

Melting snow

Twinkling droplets