Months ago we were trying to avoid snow; this time we were hoping to encounter some snow.
We came to Blue Mountain to prepare for Tyler Peak. Our plan worked, we did summit Tyler Peak. We were back here to connect the two ends of this trail.
The trail from Slab Camp to the Three Forks Trail that begins at Deer Park is only five miles. We had never made the entire distance on the Deer Ridge Trail. This time we started at the top and walked downhill.
It's perhaps silly to say, but the top of this trail offers far more to see than the bottom. The bottom is, however, a good place to train for hiking uphill through demanding terrain.
Near the top of Blue Mountain, evidence remains of a fire that burned here in the early 1990s. This burned-over area with its hard, silvery trees without a trace of green adds a touch of magic for me. This is especially true if you walk through or alongside this area as you must do to get to Maiden Peak. It's like a cemetery with skinny, giant stones that record the destruction of some long lost, forgotten race.
Looking at the surrounding peaks through this void gives me an uncomfortable feeling. It reminds me of the loss that occurs during such fires and the power and longtime repercussions of such an event.
Today there is no snow, but the open meadows are covered with a thick coating of frost. Winter is getting ready to take this space away from the casual hikers.
I always am a little reluctant to let this happen. I have no power to change the natural cycles that rule our planet; but it would be nice to access Blue Mountain and Obstruction Point for a little longer.
I love the colors one discovers in these mountains as the seasons change. The trees stay green but everything else seems to change color. Blueberry bushes turn red, other things become golden; all the wildflowers are gone, but a full palette of colors emerges.
Even the lichen and mosses change and therefore the rocks actually can change color. It is truly a wonderful time to visit these high places.
And the air itself is magical. It caresses you and bare skin tingles as the hint of ice gently passes over skin.
It's also wonderful to watch how the deer change color. They get darker and brown and black tones wipe away the lighter grays.
Part of the joy of hiking is getting in touch with nature's rhythms. If you do not get out and walk throughout the year, you miss so much of the spectacular show that God puts on for us.
It is unlike a July fireworks display. It evolves ever so slowly as time passes.
In different seasons, the bird songs that you are likely to hear change. The sound of the wind changes as the leaves drop to the forest floor.
And when the snow eventually comes, the forest gets so quiet that you begin to hear yourself as you breathe. The quiet before snow is perhaps the most magical sound that I never have heard.
Get out and enjoy the world surrounding you.
Richard Olmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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