Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The dangers of your own home and graffiti, two things to ponder when snowshoeing

On Saturday I went snowshoeing up the Butler Fork Trail. I went alone and thoroughly enjoyed myself. But as I climbed the steep hill that follows the creek I couldn't help thinking about the dangers I was putting myself in by being there alone. I never felt scared and I didn't go into any immediately dangerous areas, I didn't go so far I might get lost, and I didn't go anywhere I wouldn't be found by others pretty soon. I was meeting up with some friends that evening so I knew someone would be aware I was missing should something have happened. I almost made it up to Circle All Peak but the sun was going down and I wanted to be safe so I turned back just below the top. Nothing happened, I just had a great time and enjoyed the fresh air and solitude of the mountains in winter.
(I'd never been up this trail in the winter but I went in the fall once with Andy and Kris. Here's the same spot in the above picture without the snow)
(The trail was packed into this nice bowl shape and it made me wish I'd packed a sled up with me so I could ride back down to my car.) Back from my first solo snowshoe outing in the canyon this season, I was feeling pretty good about everything. Then...Sunday night...I fell down the stairs in my own house! It hurts a lot more as an adult than I remember from when I was a kid. Luckily I fell backwards and just bumped my way down instead of tumbling Scarlett O'Hara style and escaped with just rug burns and bruises. (It still hurt A LOT) I laid sprawled out at the bottom for awhile and wondered how long it would have been before someone found me if I was hurt and wondering where my phone was. The next day was my day off from work and I had no plans with anyone. It'd probably be at least Tuesday afternoon before someone would think to look for me, but more likely Wednesday.
So to sum things up:
  • If I'd have injured myself in the mountains alone in the snow, the skiers I saw on my way down would have seen me within the hour and if not them, at least a dozen people the next day, plus friends would wonder where I was that evening.
  • If I'd seriously injured myself on the stairs at my house I'd have laid there for 2-3days with only the helpless hungry cats as company.
The whole experience made me agree with John Muir more than ever when he wrote this:

“To the timid traveler, fresh from the sedimentary levels of the lowlands, these highways, however picturesque and grand, seem terribly forbidding—cold, dead, gloomy gashes in the bones of the mountains, and of all Nature's ways the ones to be most cautiously avoided. Yet they are full of the finest and most telling examples of Nature's love; and though hard to travel, none are safer. For they lead through regions that lie far above the ordinary haunts of the devil, and of the pestilence that walks in darkness. True, there are innumerable places where the careless step will be the last step; and a rock falling from the cliffs may crush without warning like lightning from the sky; but what then? Accidents in the mountains are less common than in the lowlands, and these mountain mansions are decent, delightful, even divine, places to die in, compared with the doleful chambers of civilization. Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain-passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action. Even the sick should try these so-called dangerous passes, because for every unfortunate they kill, they cure a thousand.”

I agree with Muir, I'd rather have died in the canyon with my snowshoes on looking at the stars and the trees than at the bottom of my stairs in my dorky mismatching old pajamas and a pint of melting ice cream in my hand.
Now let's talk about Graffiti. I kinda like Graffiti, but I think it should be limited to train cars, bathroom stalls, and that old abandoned building you pass as you drive to Idaho. Not on trees. If you actually own the tree then I think it's sweet to carve initials inside hearts, but not in wilderness areas. People can not help themselves though, so I guess we should look on the bright side of things.
I do appreciate when people put some thought into it and go beyond just carving their initials... and deep down, I kind of like the way old carvings look on aspens. (A couple of these are from a trail I took along the Alpine Loop a couple springs ago)
But I like the aspens most without any words.
"We had left no mark on the country itself, but the land had left it's mark on us."
Sigurd Olsen


Winters Outloud said...

So did you spill your ice cream? Wish I had been there to see it.

KATIE said...

actually I wasn't holding ice cream, I was holding...a candy bar. I ate the ice cream after to make myself feel better. (I also ate the candy bar) But my friend at work told me a hilarious story about falling down her stairs holding a bowl of icecream with hotfudge and still finding splatters of it on the walls months later. Her story is better.