One of the challenges of winter hiking or snowshoeing is parking. OMG it’s tough. I don’t like to put my car at risk or other drivers by taking up a lot of space so sometimes I turn to groomed trails with fees. I don’t mind the fees because of the work involved in upkeep. This post doesn’t feature one of them (a future post will), but parking ended up being interesting. Very few people live year round on the road the trailhead is on and while it is plowed it’s really narrow. No shoulders. But – at an intersection only one of the connecting roads is plowed for cars, the other is ATV or snowmobile traffic only. There was a little wide bit so the Jeep went there while I hit the trail. This is the Underdown Segment of the Ice Age Trail.
I wasn’t the first so the going was a little easier. That person came from the other end which is part of the Underdown Recreation area and has big huge parking lots and bathrooms. Unfortunately the web site listed the trail fee incorrectly so I didn’t stay there though I would have been entirely justified in doing it. I don’t use cash much so don’t have a lot of it with me and only brought the correct amount. Well, the incorrect amount as it turned out.
But anyway…look how gorgeous! It was totally worth driving around and wedging the car into a space. I was surprised by the big sections of woods that didn’t have critter tracks and so I took a few shots off trail. Smooth snow and long shadows are so wonderful to me. I keep coming back to them over and over.
Bare limbs and tree trunks, too. The lines, the geometry, the stark quality of the resting forest.
And of course, trail shots. I have an idea for more off trail photography next year, but this time I didn’t do much because I was kind of tired after being inactive for so many weeks.
The light gave me ways to play with processing. I didn’t finish these shots as a set because each one struck me differently when I got to working with them. This next one is done with very cool tones and the second very warm. They’re just minutes apart, but the feel is so different and I like them both, but in different ways. Lately I’ve been emphasizing the warmth in winter rather than the cold which I think is a bit overdone. Yeah, we get it, winter is cold but there’s cold and there’s cold. Being a northern native, I’m not fazed by winter and even get a bit blase about being out in it. I don’t take risks and always dress appropriately, but it doesn’t worry me. I don’t dwell on it, I just go out.
I’m going to admit something now. Confess. The caption for the shot above reminded me of my emotional state when I was out that day. It was the first time I felt well enough to consider snowshoeing after some surgeries and hospital stays. Without getting into detail I’ll say that I had been through the mill both physically and emotionally. I got frustrated over the fee situation at the other trailhead and actually started to cry in the car. I told myself it was dumb for me to be out and that I should just go home and scrap the whole thing. It was too late in the day to start hiking. No place to park. Any excuse would do. It was an overreaction. I knew it and I almost gave into it.
Then I told myself to snap out of it. To push through. That being outside would help. It always does. Giving in to my negative attitude would only make things worse. I needed to break it off. Going through what I had sort of forced me into this. I wouldn’t call it a clinical depression, but it was close. I didn’t NOT want to do the things that have always given me pleasure, but I had to talk myself into them. After I’d done them I felt better and that’s what I had to tell myself. That I’d feel better and be better off.
And it was true. Just a few minutes of walking in the tracks of another put my head back to rights. Attitude adjustment for sure. I stopped often. Just to listen and to breathe and to let go.
I think I’ll end here. Nature is my cure. No matter the season. Small doses will do, but it’s impossible to overdose.