I was hoping we’d slide right past the snow and ice of a true winter…slide quietly into spring while skipping all the angst of blizzards and ice storms and shovels and extra coats and hats. And boots.
Most of you know I’m up in northern Michigan visiting a friend’s cat. It’s been relatively warm here too, but Monday night while I was sleeping about 10 inches of snow silently fell.
And I have to admit it sure is pretty.
Today, on the advice of Heather I went in search of a Clay Cliffs, a nature preserve not far from where I’m staying. The roads weren’t great and I was a little worried, but I found the parking lot and it was plowed so I pulled in. My mistake was not looking at the map in the parking lot before I was drawn down the path and into the dark pine trees covered in beautiful white snow.
Someone else had been there, perhaps yesterday, perhaps earlier today, and I followed the footsteps into the woods. More than once I said out loud into the stillness of snow covered trees “Well, snowshoes would have been good.”
I can tell you walking in snow is a lot slower than walking on a dry path. And walking in snow while taking pictures is even slower. After awhile I began to wonder if the footsteps I was following were actually walking on a path. There were no trail markers. Occasionally I saw dog prints along with boots. Were the footprints merely following a dog as it explored? Or was it someone that knew these paths?
I didn’t know.
Eventually (ok, maybe only 1/2 a mile into the walk) I came to this sign. Should I take the field and forest loop? What if it just connected to another loop? What had that map at the beginning said?
I didn’t know.
I decided to take it for a bit and then come back to the original loop that I hoped would fit the definition of a loop and end back at the car. The field and forest loop went almost straight up a big hill.
I wasn’t cold by the time I got to the top and found a huge field stretched out in front of me. I thought I’d go to the next marker which happened to be near a bench where I might rest.
If it weren’t covered in snow.
Still, the path lead further across the field. I noticed all the footsteps already in the snow were now going in the opposite way and eventually this began to bother me. I didn’t know where this path led, or why all the boot tracks were coming toward me. When I got to the other side of the big field I turned around.
If there wasn’t so much snow to trudge through, and if the sky wasn’t so dark I think I would have kept going, but my fear was that I’d end up having to back track to find the car and I’d already walked a long way. (Not so long once I looked at the map, but it felt long!)
So I worked my way back down the big hill and continued on my way. Turns out the car wasn’t that far away. And when I studied the map I saw I was within about a 1/2 mile from the destination I wanted to find.
So now that I know there are only two loops I think I’ll go back and make it all the way over to the lake. Even if there is still snow to slog through.
Because there likely will be. Once winter arrives up here it’s not going to leave any time soon.