Inverted Sky

The title of this blog is the imagined way I’d hike in the sky if everything were upside down, inverted — the sky being the ground.

This morning was one of those days where the light was a little flat (hazy/cloudy sun) on the fresh snow.  It can be really flat when it’s snowing, too. Sometimes when I’m snow-shoeing in flat light I can’t really see the snow.  Instead I see only all white, with no depth. I take a step into the white not knowing where my foot will stop and touch something firm.  There’s something surreal about it, like I’m not walking on the ground.  The inverted sky.


Hazy light of dawn

Hazy light of dawn, Mt. Thorodin in the back ground, the stone ruins of Caribou gold mining town in the foreground.

A lot of snow has fallen since I returned from the deserts of Utah, much more than I’ve ever seen here at this time of year.  But this is what I expect with a warming climate, the heavier snows we would normally get in spring will fall mid-winter when it’s usually just cold and dry.


Which snowdrift should I go to?

Which snowdrift should I go to?

This morning, I endeavored to stay off any trails. When I’m walking on a trail, my mind wanders and contemplates things, often unrelated to the hike.  This is good when trying to make a hefty decision about something. When I’m off-trail, I’m fully focused in the moment, path-finding, choosing where to go, especially in the forest.  It can be exhilarating and gets me out of my head.

I emerged from hiking in a fairly dark forest and into one of my favorite valleys. A lone coyote yipped and howled from the side of the valley, possibly as a simple greeting to me. It surprised me a little because coyotes usually head for lower elevations in the fall (I was above 10,000 feet).  I can’t imagine a coyote hunting for showshoe hares in such deep snow.  There were snowshoe hare tracks all over the place.

Another cool thing were these large feather-like ice crystals growing on the branches of the trees.


The largest ice crystals I've ever seen, especially upper left in the shadow and lower center.  Click for larger.

The largest ice crystals I’ve ever seen, especially upper left in the shadow and lower center. Over an inch long (2-3 cm). Click for larger.

They kind of reminded me of moth wings.

The Morning was Bright and then it was a Party

I snowshoed through fields of glitter in the very bright morning sun.


Deliberately underexposed to show the glittering snow.

Deliberately underexposed to show the glittering snow (iPhone photo).


It’s my favorite snow condition and occurs mostly in the late winter/early spring. Sometimes the glitter is all different colors, sometimes it’s white, like yesterday. It’s best first thing in the morning, before the sun has morphed the crystal flakes into other shapes. It’s one thing to stand and look at it, and quite another to be moving through it. As far as I’m concerned, it is pure magic.

My footprints, the only ones on the trail.

My footprints, the only ones on the trail.


It didn’t appear that anyone had hiked on the trail for weeks.  Much of the fun was trying to find the trail by finding the blue diamond shaped signs attached to trees, like a treasure hunt.


Blue diamond shaped trail marker on the trunk of a tree.

Blue diamond shaped trail marker on the trunk of a tree.


Next, I headed back to town for the annual Frozen Dead Guy Days parade.  Frozen Dead Guy Days is a 3-day long festival that arose because up on the hillside, above the reservoir, Grandpa Bredo is kept frozen under 1600 pounds of dry ice.  You can read more about the history here (with a few subtle inaccuracies).

This year, the festival coincided with Mardi Gras week.



With the good weather, a large crowd gathered for the parade.

More below the cut.

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