Saturday, March 22, 2014

Skiing as Meditation

What have I been up to this winter? Skate skiing-as a form of exercise, the perfect way to get outside and enjoy nature, and at times a bit of an active meditation. The repetition and rhythm clear my mind while the endorphins make me happy, really happy.

Pole-ski-ski, pole-ski-ski, pole-ski-ski. So begins the song. However, the only sounds are the shhh, shhh of each ski gliding. Indeed, when I stop it is as if nature has listened-the woods are perfectly silent, and all of the thoughts in my head are quieting down as well.

My skis glide over the 'corduroy' of the freshly groomed trail, creating the 'v' track that shows I have been here to those who follow. First tracks.

Snow-lade pines glide by and the sun beats down through the snowy boughs and reflects off the snow crystals, a million shining diamonds. Just for a day I am rich.

I climb, and climb, and climb. Kilometer after kilometer. 7,000...7,500...8,000 feet altitude. The rhythm of my skis keeps time to the beating of my heart. Then at 8,200 the trees recede, leaving me with my first view of everything. Lone Peak dominates the horizon, proclaiming all of its 11,166 feet. Other mountains dot the horizon, while the valley below is so far below. After climbing over 1,600 feet, with the blood pulsing in my head, my lungs working overtime, and my legs crying out from the unending flood of lactic acid, this is my reward.

Then the trail turns the opposite direction and slides back into the trees, taking a slight downward pitch. Now for the fun part. Gravity has turned from enemy into accomplice. The crime: having to much fun, and perhaps breaking the speed limit for cross country skis. The pines begin to rush by as gravity gives me a boost. I lengthen my glide until each ski track is twelve feet or longer, my focus split between balancing on each ski for as long as possible and catching glimpses of the mountains through the trees. Whoosh. Then suddenly the pines open up and reveal the Gallatin Mountain Range and canyon. This is the moment I live for: effortlessly flying down the trail at top speed while marveling at the awesomeness of 'God's Country', as they call Montana. Indeed!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hibernation/Hiatus (laziness?)

Alright, I have neglected to write for more than two months.  And have no excuses.  Work is consistently under forty hours, and the rest of my time is consumed by reading and skiing.  As you can tell, my life is rough.  Especially when I get to wake up to views like the one below.

And finish my days with sunsets like this.

Anyway, here are some more photos to make up for my hiatus.  The Big Sky State lends itself to photography, all you have to do is get outside and the moments will present themselves.

The funny looking vertical rainbow in the picture below is called a sundog.  Similar to its vapory cousin, the rainbow, a sundog is formed by light reflecting off ice crystals floating around in the air.

It truly is a winter wonderland out here, although we have already started the tumultuous transition to spring, with flooding at lower elevations.  Personally though, I would not mind if winter stuck around for another couple of weeks.  Definitely in the minority on that one.  In the meantime, I will try and write some more.