The Arctic Freeze has set in. It was 0 degrees when I got up, and it has gotten only as warm as 2 degrees in the hour that I’ve been puttering around my house. My house is where I intend to stay for the most part – until it is time to slip and slide to the library to post this, and then skid and skim my way across the icy street to work.
I knew this weather was coming, so I made sure to play outside yesterday. A friend and I went scampering up the Homans Path on Dorr Mt., which had tolerably secure footing on account of the latest snowfall. The view was amazing. Too often I keep close to the ground in the winter, trying to forget about the exhilaration that pumps through me when I get high.
Our decent down the Kurt Diederich’s Climb had some exciting sections. Dorr Mt. is never lacking in spectacular ice falls, some of which don’t have the good sense to stay off the trails! We successfully navigated our way back down to Sieur de Monts, but we were too charged up to be done hiking yet.
My boss at Reel Pizza had clued me in to some caves on Schoolhouse Ledges, so we drove over to Northeast Harbor to try and find them. The trails in the Schoolhouse Ledge area are not inside Acadia National Park. They are pretty well maintained village trails with names and posts and the works – but a veritable maze to those without a map or a good sense of direction. Fortunately (oddly enough?) my sense of direction is reasonably good.
We made our way to Lower Hadlock Pond and then trudged halfway up Norumbega Mt. to the turn off that leaps back down to the Golf Club. We passed through a wonderful forest of skinny pine trees and slivered sunlight, chose a new trail and plunged deeper into the labyrinth. We found ourselves following a series of cliffs and crags and tumbles of rock, and before long we discovered the caves. One was dry and cozy and perfect to live in – in fact, someone had been doing so not too long ago!
After some false starts and backtracking and scrambling around in the woods, we found our way back to the car. We had clocked in over 6 miles, explored new places, and stood on mountaintops. Not a bad way to spend 3 hours of a cold January day.
I used to think that I didn’t like winter, but these last few winters spent on MDI have changed my mind. I relish a brisk walk in below freezing temps, and come home feeling invigorated. It is exciting to rediscover familiar places, changed in wondrous ways by ice and snow. With my camera in hand, winter becomes a treasure hunt. I seek the most perfect frozen jewels, knowing that by tomorrow they will have changed or disappeared.
Winter is a simple, quiet, thoughtful time – and I have been doing some thinking. As dreams of moving away swirl through my mind, I find myself appreciating winter more and more. If I moved to a warm, sunny place, where the coldest days might brush the lower 50s, would I really like it? Would I in fact miss the snow and ice and 5 degree days (with a wind chill factor we don’t even want to talk about)? To my own surprise, I think I would.
Good thing there are plenty more days of winter for me to thoroughly explore these strange new thoughts. What better way to do so than by taking many long walks in the woods, where the only sounds are the crunch of my boots in the snow, and the occasional wondrous boom that echoes across a frozen pond.