The Rambling Writer Goes Snowshoeing with Bear Dog and Thor
(We’ll resume our British Columbia trip with Bella Coola on Dec. 12.)
“How would you like to play in the snow, Bear?” Thor asked on the morning before Thanksgiving.
“Woof!” (Translation: “Yes! I’m so thankful for snow.”)
Since Bear never says no to an outing, that crucial question was clearly answered, and we were off on the Mt. Baker Highway. A freezing Northeaster wind was holding clear, sunny skies as it whipped up chop on the bay and blew branches around, but we knew that up on the mountain we’d mostly be sheltered from that chilling wind. We’d just been blessed with a lovely early snowfall that we all hope is the start of a good snowpack to last until spring to feed the rivers and forestall another drought year. Fingers crossed—like weather everywhere, it seems, our has become unpredictable. So carpe diem! Pack up the snowshoes and go!
We are thankful for our proximity to the North Cascades trails in our backyard. From Bellingham, WA, it takes only about an hour and a quarter to drive to the upper Mt. Baker ski area lot, and head up from there on either snowshoes or Nordic skis. The ski area is actually on Mt. Shuksan next to Mt. Baker, and our route that day climbed above the ski slopes between the two mountain peaks.
Bear, usually Mr. Mellow, flew into a delirium of joy as soon as we made a trail between soft snowdrifts. He spun and leaped and dove like a dolphin into the deep drifts, emerging with a white coating. Then, with some deep whuffing and barking, he ran figure-eights around our slower slogging. A little more snow-diving and rolling, and he settled into his usual behavior of ranging forward and around us as we climbed.
Over the past year since we adopted him, Bear has grown ever furrier, with Hobbit toe-tufts and long leg feathers, and when unleashed to follow the call of the wild, he looks like a primordial beast out of some Ice Age. And of course the eternal question of his mysterious breed arises whenever we encounter others on our outings. We’ve decided he’s a Mongrelian Bear Hound.
To keep snowballs from collecting in those furry toes, we tried last year to get him to wear Worf’s legacy red snowboots, but Bear was having none of it. So Thor now coats his paws with Musher’s Secret wax, which works pretty well with an occasional stop to refresh the coating.
Lunch break overlooking Mt. Shuksan, while Bear politely waits for his snack on the remnants of our sandwiches.
We sat looking out at the mountain, breathing the cold, pure air, and listening to the quiet far above the noise and busyness of cities. Thankful for this pause. Then we meandered back down along a ski track in an early-winter wonderland, counting our many blessings this year. Best wishes to all for the holidays!
Sara’s newest novel from Book View Cafe was recently released in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection. It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?” The novel has received the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction.