On February 26, 2020

POW in the darkness

By Merisa Sherman

The morning started with freshies. Road crew was working so hard, but had yet to plow my road. It was just gorgeous — an untouched ribbon of white, so inviting as the snow reached from treeline to a not-quite-hidden guard rail.

The lights from the condos were glowing through the  5 a.m. darkness and the snowflakes glistened in the light as they fell slowly to the ground.

I could see only as far as my headlights allowed; I had faith that the mountain was there, buried in white and waiting for skiers to find all her secret hidden passageways filled with soft, luscious powder.

With my skins on, I left right from my car in a contrastingly immaculately plowed parking lot. As I stepped up the plow berm to even get up onto the fresh snow, a huge gust of wind hit me right in the throat.

Quickly, I shuffled across the open expanse and hid against the treeline. The wind literally vanished and I was left in a quiet solitude amidst the darkness.

Like a monster scouring through the depths of the ocean, a groomer was making his way underneath the chairlift. His lights made a dance through the trees and the snow beneath my feet was littered with glittery gold stripes. For a while we were together, as he went down and I went up, each on our separate journeys in the darkness.

The snowflakes twinkling in the light of my headlamp were stunning, but the snow on the ground was my true focus. The wind had played with the 16 inches of fallen snow, creating distinct waves in the snow pack. Occasionally, I’d wander too close to the treeline and end up a soft pile of thigh deep snow. And smile.

As I went into the woods, I was now truly alone. It looked as though no one had come this way in years.

The wind had pushed the snow every which way and all about, pushing it up against trees and pulling it harshly from others, leaving their roots exposed to the bitter cold. You could have filmed a scene from some apocalypse film … and I was the only one left.

Rounding the final bend, I pulled into a nook of evergreen trees to quickly change into my puffy.

It’s glowy pink, but so lusciously warm, like wrapping myself in a sleeping bag. It only takes a few moments for the heat from my body to fill in the air space. Soon, I am snuggled up and ready for the change. Swinging my arms, I will the blood back into my fingertips so I have enough dexterity to grab the tip loop off my skins.

Then I remembered: I hadn’t finished my tea from yesterday. The water was miraculously still warm! What a wonderful treat on a blustery summit.

A chunk of windblown sneakedinto my perfect powder run and my tip got caught. I suddenly went log-rolling down the hill until I landed on my right pole, looking up at the tree tops on the summit. I chuckled to myself, thankful for a pile of fluffy powder to land in. Packing down the snow around me, I cautiously stood up and shook the cold snow out of my back. “Super glad no one was here to see that,” I thought to myself. I started again, my breathing intertwined with the sound of fresh powder puffing up as I moved my skis through the snow.

It was perfect.

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