Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Into the hills

Slap skinny boards onto your feet. Strap a pack bulging with sleeping bag, food, and water onto your back and step, a little tentatively, into the wind scouring the high country, blasting snow into your face.
Ski with friends. They’ll plod along with you, keep you on the path, and join you to celebrate when you reach the sheltering hut, home for the next couple of days.

It’s hard to explain just how the special camaraderie always happens on these tenth mountain division hut trips every year.

In 2019 we were ten—a smaller group than most years but no less enthusiastic. We cooked for each other--pancakes, spaghetti, and cocoanut chicken curry. We told story after story. We read and snoozed and headed out to ski to a ridge in the distance. We gazed at the stars, shared a sauna, a snowball fight and a roll in the snow. We got up at 6 a.m. for a pre-dawn ski in a snowstorm and risked losing our way.

When it was time to leave, we hadn’t quite had our fill of this kind of fun. Blessedly, the wind was at our back as we trekked down hill. Bright sun, grey skies and snowflakes took turns as we headed toward home.

Too soon we found ourselves part of a long line of barely moving traffic and we knew why it was so important that we’d made this annual trip that has become a sacred 20-year tradition.

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