Snow hike

Nothing could be better than getting a late Saturday night message that says, “Do you want to go walking in the mountains with us tomorrow? ” I will admit, I hesitated before replying because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It never is, but the feeling of achievement when you get to your destination and the beauty of the walk is well worth the effort.

Bluest of skies contrasting with pristine snow.

This was only my second walk with snow shoes and the first was relatively easy, with long, flat stretches and a small climb in altitude. Not so for the second time! We stopped in a parking area of the village and had a short, steep walk to the start of the trail. I was already tired and I hadn’t even put on my snowshoes! When we started walking, the going was relatively flat and open. it was a beautiful, sunny day and though the air was crisp, the sun warmed us as we walked. Around us, the snow lay deep and heavy on the fields, sparkling iln the morning sun. I’m always amazed at how soft and powdery snow can be when it’s fresh, and the snow was about as fresh as you could get.

My snow shoes.

We started out eagerly, following a narrow trail forged by the early birds. Around us, there was a profound quiet such as you only get when the snow lies thick on the ground. An occasional soft thud signalled the falling snow from an overhead branch. The only other sound was my deep breaths and the chattering of the leaders, who obviously had no problem with shortness of breath.

What a stunning backdrop!
Friends make life better!
Forest snowdrifts
Icy river and snowcapped rocks

As I walked, my snow shoes collected the snow underfoot and seemed to get heavier and heavier. I had to stop regularly to tap my feet together and dislodge the snow. Just when I was getting to the end of my tether, we came towards a group of houses where we stopped for a short rest. Grateful for a drink, I admired the view before my friends chivvied me along the path again. Imagine my dismay when someone said, “That was the easy part. Now the hard part starts!”

Coming up to the houses. A welcome rest.

My heart sank. I briefly considered telling them I would wait at the houses for them. If it weren’t for the fact that someone was sure to volunteer to stay behind with me and I didn’t want to spoil the walk for anyone, I might have done that. As it was, I bit my tongue and slogged on. The gradient increased steeply and we passed through a forested area, zigzagging sharply in order to climb quickly.

Up, up, up. Am I falling behind?
Take that photo now because I’m not sure I’ll make it to the top!

A number of times I thought I couldn’t lift my legs another step, but it’s amazing what you can do when you have no other choice. I slogged on slowly with Lino behind me, encouraging me all the way and finally reached the lake where the others were already pulling out sandwhiches and flasks. I loved the applause they gave me! I did it! I grabbed my lunch and sank to the ground for a well-deserved rest.

Looking across the lake.
Pristine alpine beauty.
Snow-capped rock.
Lunch on the trail.

The break was all too short and before long we were heading down the trail again. Why is it that you seem to move so much faster on the homeward trail? My biggest problem was trying not to slip or fall on the steep slope and my knees and thighs shouted their displeasure at what I was doing. At one point I did slip. I put out a hand to save myself and, plof, my arm sank into the snowdrift up to my elbow. My face came up with snow all over my glasses and my knees were covered in snow too. Pity no one was close enough to take a photo. It made me smile though and when I told the others they said that everyone falls at least a few times.

Trying to get the snow on my shoulders.

When I arrived home, I could hardly lift my feet to get up the stairs. Would I do it again? You bet!

Life Celebration #16 Snow!

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I have to admit that I love snow and the occasional snowy day! It’s true that where I live in the foothills of the alps, we don’t often get deep snow or long snowy periods. For the most part, the snow stays on the nearby peaks, giving them their winter brightness. On Friday, we woke up to a winter wonderland. My heart leapt at the beauty while I was going to market. The tree branches were outlined in snow – there was absolutely no wind to disturb it.

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From my balcony, the surrounding hill had a glistening icing-sugar dusting.

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The church spire rose proudly above the snowy roof tops.

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Sadly, the snow is almost all gone already. Only the coldest corners of the garden harbour a few sad heaps. I’m hoping for a little more in the coming days!
How do you feel about the snow? Love it, or hate it?

An easy walk in the mountains!

We were chatting about what to do when my neice arrived in Italy for a month’s holiday.
“Let’s take her on a walk to Lago Blu,” said my daughter Lisa. “It’s an easy walk and the view of the blue lake at the end of the walk makes it well worth it.”
“Are you sure we can manage?” I asked, remembering that I’m not the fittest of people and although Trish is a lot younger than me, she’s recovering from some health problems.
“Yes, of course,” she reassured me. “Even young children do that walk.”

So, given what she said, I expected a relatively easy walk in the mountains with the sun shining and a glorious day all around us.
At the end of the walk, I expected to see this.

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Reality started to set in when we parked the car in the village at the start of the walk. There was snow! Admittedly not a great deal, but there were drifts of frozen snow beside the road we had to take. It was more of a track really, and the higher we went, the bigger the drifts got, until they were right across the road and we had no choice but to walk gingerly along them. The mountain air was crisp and cool, and all around us the sound of running water reminded us that spring was rapidly thawing those snow drifts.

An hour and a half after setting off, we were stopping more often, out of breath and exhausted. I expected to arrive at the beautiful lake around every corner of the windy, steep road. But no, it would still be as long again before we got there, and we were in for an interesting walk across a field of thawing snow. Boy, was I grateful for my walking boots and padded socks! Have you ever walked across a drift of melting snow? Some of the time, the snow is still frozen and it carries your weight. The rest of the time, your feet sink into the slushy ice, and you find yourself with a shoe full of icicles and wet jeans. Not good! I was lucky, and managed to avoid getting my feet too wet. Poor Trish was almost losing her shoes as her feet broke through the ice on every third or fourth step.

We crossed the icy field and stopped for a lunch that lived up to my expectations: delicious quiche and prosciutto sandwiches washed down by crisp, clear mountain water. Couldn’t have been better! But where was the lake?
Lisa was very encouraging. “See that big rock half way up the hill there?” (Pointing at the distant rock slide.) “It’s just behind that rock. We’re almost there!” (Big smile and excited voice.) “Just tell me if you want to turn back.”
Trish and I looked at each other. We had come so far and braved the ‘Sea of melting ice’. We desperately wanted to see the beautiful blue lake, our reward for persevering and putting up with the cold and our tired legs.
“Nah! We can do it!”
image Not sure if you can see it, but the big rock is just above the tree line.

So we shouldered our rucksacks and skirted the side of the field, heading towards the rock slide. It was a bit worrying when Lisa said, ” it all looks so different in the snow. I’m not so sure where the path is.” Then she headed confidently towards the rocks and we started climbing. This was no path! This was climbing up big boulders, and my knees and legs ached with each step. The rucksack felt like it weighed a ton and was getting heavier with each step! I puffed and panted, and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. After a while, Lisa found the path, and we crossed a few more snow drifts. Do you know how scary it is when the snow drift to your right heads straight down, and you know that if you slip, you’ll be going down there!

One final snowdrift, and we could perch ourselves on a rock and gaze at the object of our desire, Lago Blu:
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Reality wasn’t quite the same as my expectations!

This post was written in response to the Dp writing challenge.
Pop over here and see what other writers have been doing.

Posted on the run

Weekly writing challenge: Threes

Written in response to the weekly writing challenge Threes.

Three haikus based on the three photos posted by Jessie

DRIVEWAY SLEDDING

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I

Long trudge up the hill
Breath steams, feet freeze, almost there
Quick! My turn! Go again!

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II

Woosh! Pounding, bumping,
Clouds, trees, hurtle by white hills
Coasting, slowing, stop.

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III

Stepping together
Sun and Joy light up your face
Look mom, dragon breath!

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