Thursday, December 17, 2009

walk in the snow

Well, I finally got some brand new snowshoes. Problem is, there’s a marked lack of snow at the mo. But undeterred Baldrick and I headed off anyway up to Favourite Mountain yesterday.

We are not serious mountaineers; we spend most of our time resting on our trekking poles and chatting and we haven’t got the right sunglasses or a peeling nose, so an hour’s ascent turned into two and we were up just before lunch time despite an early start.

The road was packed snow and ice all the way up so it took us a good 40 minutes to drive up.

Despite the fact that the road doesn’t actually go anywhere we still managed to find a cretin on it. Driving up in front of us at a certain point, in a bend, on an icy hill the cretin stops dead, no indication, no sign of a brain. We’re forced to stop too supposing that he was giving way to something. Hours pass. Day turns to night .So we creep forward, then suddenly he puts his indicator on and as we pass what do we see, he’s on his mobile phone. Jerk. But anyway, suppressing homicidal thoughts we carry on up in the … new 4x4. Well new second hand. It’s a serious 4x4, not like the bloody Kangoo and it climbs like a climbing thing. It has serious manly deep-treaded snow tyres too and with four snow chains in case of necessity you get the feeling you could go anywhere, but of course I resist the temptation (note to wife: really, honestly dear heart, ask Baldrick, we did nothing out of the ordinary, promise).

So eventually after another half an hour strapping on bits of equipment and peeling off layers as the temperature soared with snowshoes strapped to rucksack due to lack of interesting quantities of snow and with nobody else around for miles, we were off racing at a leisurely dawdle in the rut where numerous four legged beasties had passed before us up to the top of the mountain. I still wonder why any sane critter would walk up to the top of a mountain in the snow.

I really like this mountain. It’s only 45 minutes door to door and unless you go on a Sunday, there’s never anyone there. And then it’s only usually an hour to the top so it’s something you can do in an extended lunch break with a bit of effort.

After lunch at the top in bright, brilliant sunshine, and with tummies full of chocolate-coated sesame bars, cheese and tea cut with cinnamon and cloves we set off to continue the walk. Unfortunately the interminable crest that we had hoped to snowshoe along was more or less bare and it was not worth the slip risk. So instead we went down to the saddle and from there directly down.

I wanted to try the snowshoes despite there only being 7 or 8 inches of snow. Baldrick though didn’t bother. The slope down is steep and a lot of fun to travel down. You never know just which snow-covered rhododendron hummock is going to give way as you step on it. The snow was crystalline and powdery and full of rainbows and looked just like one of those old-fashioned Christmas cards with the snow dotted with glitter. There’s something very satisfying about ploughing thorough virgin snow.

At the bottom the track was full of animal prints. A huge boar trail leading off into the mountains was interesting for the distance between sets of prints, about 2 meters and fox and hare and various birds accompanied us all the way back to the car.

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