By Merisa Sherman
We let the dogs lead the way, frolic and bounce as they please while they are just 10 month old black Labradors. A complete zest for anything they may sniff along the way, but still eager to keep mom in sight. This young man never ventured further than a retractable leash would allow, his orange jacket protecting him as he wandered through the woods. Its humans not far behind, we chatted as we walked, discussing the nature of life and the life of nature.
And the walk continued. We went further and further, walking uphill along the path which, although beaten, was still one of the less traveled. We could tell because our feet were a little soggy. Well, mine were anyway because my gore-tex hiking boots eventually fell apart and I was wearing my summer runners. My girlfriend was very happy with her raincoats, but I was confident in my DarnTuff socks so there were no complaints.
We took the path under the canopy, the sunlight shining through the yellow leaves and creating a mystical path. We walked along one of those Instagram photos that are way too saturated and filtered – only that was the reality. Every now and then there was a gap in the trees and we could look out across the valley and the mountains beyond, glowing in their cacophony of reds, yellows and greens.
This was the peak, where Vermont can sometimes become a veritable dream world and even locals find it hard to concentrate on the road. Last week, while pumping gas at Charlie’s, I stood there and looked at the mountains across Highway 4 and stared. Yes, that billboard in New York just before crossing the state line is totally true: even the gas stations in Vermont are friendlier, or better, or prettier. You choose.
But I digress. We were hiking up the mountain to take in the view of the foliage from the top. It was the annual KSC/KMS hike and this year it was freezing cold. This walk to the Ski Club had the wind forcing its way through your throat and it was almost like January as we got together to watch Chuck trying to figure out how to take a photo with his iPhone 6 and catch up with our athletes , coaches and friends we haven’t seen since last winter.
But while I was enjoying the view of the foliage, it wasn’t what I was really looking forward to. As we walked up Great Northern, my steps grew lighter and my soul began to sing. I could feel the difference in the air and when we passed under the North Ridge Quad we could finally see it. I could barely contain myself as I practically started running towards Rime, this time with the 10 month old pup behind me.
Snow!! Nice artificial white test snow that was put down for that purpose (or so I would like to believe). We stopped briefly to eat ice cubes that fell from the armchair, our first ice cubes of the seasons required a selfie, of course! And then snowballs, to throw at each other as we regress to the 5 years we train. Snow does that, you know. It transforms adult adults into the children they were when they discovered the joys of winter.
I think we took more pictures of this patch of snow than the whole hike up the mountain. We were reborn, as the earth will be in a few weeks when the natural snow really begins to fall. There’s something about promotional snow that makes me the most silly – perhaps because a patch of snow that’s going to melt in a few days is by definition silly. But this patch of snow, this size of about 50 meters was just for us, made by the largest team of snowmakers in the world.
Taking a few steps in the middle of the patch, I performed my first snow ritual of the season. I lay down in the snow and made a snow angel, swinging my legs and arms like a child. And then I just lay there, allowing the cold to seep into my body and reconnect for the winter season ahead. I let the snow invade my soul, finding myself renewed and refreshed. Here, with the snow, I am at peace with the world and everything seems wonderful again. I stopped counting my ski days a long time ago, but I count my days on the snow. What a perfect way to start the season. Have a good winter everyone!!!!