|The crew at the top of Mt. Philo|
Once again, I have my students and Saint Michael's College's fabulous Wilderness Program to thank. When the week's schedule of wilderness programs went out over email, I immediately forwarded to a number of friends and colleagues to see who else was game, and sure enough, Alexsis came through with impressive speed. She'd never gone up Mt. Philo, and we both thought it was time to change that, so tonight we did.
|Bridget and Nelly, our cheerfully unflappable leaders|
One of the things I learned from last night's hike is that the Be Prepared motto isn't just for Boy and Girl Scouts. Faced with some snow shoe problems (a bunch of them had buckles missing, which we didn't notice till we got to the parking lot of Mt. Philo), Nelly, one of our Wilderness leaders, responded with a sense of resourcefulness and dispatch that would have made MacGyver weep with envy. Using only the string of her compass and the tape in her first aid kit, she managed to get her, Alexsis' and my buckle-deficient snow shoes firmly attached to our boots and off we went. I had already met Bridget the year before when she was one of the Wilderness Leaders on a snow shoe hike that Ryan and I took up Camel's Hump that was so cold that all the rest of the participants who had signed up bailed the morning we were supposed to go out, so I knew she was impressively intrepid. But last night's hero award definitely went to Nelly for incredible grace under fire.
|Nelly and Alexsis doing battle with their buckle-deficient snow shoes and trying to ignore their freezing fingers|
On one of my snow shoe hikes last year my friend and student, New Thing Hall of Famer Josh, gave me a piece of advice for winter activities -- you should be dressed so that you're a little cold when you start, because otherwise you'll be peeling layers halfway through. This proved true once again. In the parking lot I was cold, halfway up Mt Philo (which is admittedly not a major haul, but still clearly slants in an uphill direction) I was plenty warm. Thanks to the overshoes that the Wilderness Program kindly provided to go over our hiking boots, for once, even my toes were nice and toasty.
|Alexsis and I at the top of Mt. Philo. I felt particularly good about having twisted Lexi's arm to go when she told me she hadn't been to Mt. Philo before.|
If you've never done a snow shoe at night up a trail you've hiked in another season during the day, I recommend it. It's a whole different experience. Between the snow reflecting on the trees in the moonlight and the totally different way that the trail looks covered with snow, it gives a whole other perspective on a place that you might feel you already knew. The same was true at the top. Looking out at Lake Champlain and all the farms below was really beautiful and a completely different sight than you'd see if the afternoon in the summer or fall.
|Love the way the light of the headlamps looked in this picture taken on the trail|
|Chris and I at Sugarbush last Friday. My smile is clearly related in part to the fact that I was inside and could once again feel my toes.|