Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Life in Longmire

It certainly is snowy here at Longmire. Check out the image of my government issue house. It's almost a snowcave, and those are some serious icicles too. Don't mess with them.

Life is pretty mellow up at Mt. Rainier during the winter. It's great getting out out of Seattle a few days a week to come here. The routine so far has been: hang out in the office (i.e. scheme ways to improve the blog and seek grants for an artist in residence program), go out skiing with climbing ranger Chris Olson (i.e. risk my life following a great skier through steep treed terrain), then hang out at Mike's house (who could be a smashing restaurateur: grilled chops and salmon, mojitos, and lemon drops). Rough life, I know.

Since Chris is pretty much a professional skier and will turn his boards down anything in any conditions, hanging out with him has been an adventure so far. During our first day out a few weeks ago (when the sun last revealed itself), we skied bulletproof ice from Panorama Point to Paradise. The saving grace was crystal clear skies, letting us see almost every big peak in Washington and Oregon. (Right: Chris at Panorama Point).

Once, we skied partway up the Eagle Peak trail then came down in the dark through the trees. It was like being on a roller coaster where you couldn't see the next twist or turn until you came right up on it. Or, as Chris put it in his ski report, it "felt like a bobsled run in the dark." Of course, he wrote that after skiing the trail by himself and blazing down it at about 50 mph. Anyway, we skied it the next day together and came down at a more leisurely pace but it still felt fast to me!

The ski up through the old growth forest was beautiful, with fluffy snow everywhere. Piled in soft pillows all around us, hanging from the trees, falling from the sky. I felt like I was living in a Christmas carol. (Left: Chris leads the way up the "bobsled run")

I was also thinking what a great trail this was for snowshoers, when Chris pointed out how easy it would be to get lost if you didn't know exactly where the trail was. (He was amazed that the trail was still visible through all the recent snow). I realized that he was right and suddenly got a little less complacent about it - especially when he reminded me that a hiker died on this trail last June.

Then again, if anyone knows his way around here, it's probably Chris. The problem is, if you follow him up something, you also have to follow him down.