Posted by: Blythe | January 13, 2009

The New Year from a Mountain Top

Hurricane Ridge1_1-11-09Hurricane Ridge is a magical place where you can look across valleys to faraway mountaintops, watch the morning mist snake its way along the river between the folds of hills, and stare at the watercolored sky as it changes from golden pinks to greenish blues and grays.

Sometimes I forget this spectacular vista is right out my back door. I rarely go there in summer when the tourists clog the roadways. January, however, is perfect: the air is crisp, the contrast is bold, and all is muffled quiet.

Already almost the middle of January! Time to get out!

Hurricane Ridge2_1-11-09From the lodge, we could see with the naked eye an avalanche in the Lillian Valley on the other side. It must have been huge and absolutely roaring. The spray of snow was like a small cloud above it. Avalanche warnings on the Ridge were rated “considerable” – and although we were unlikely to venture in places of risk, it was good to keep in mind.

Hurricane Ridge3_1-11-09We strapped on our snowshoes and headed slightly northwest through the woods toward Hurricane Hill (away from the ski area). The trail is wide; in warmer days, it would be a simple drive but is now a clearing through a winter wonderland. Occasionally passed by a cross-country skier, we preferred the slower pace of walking, stopping at overlooks that opened between the trees.

Gray Jay_Hurricane Ridge_1-11-09We stopped for coffee at what would normally be a busy campground but was now a sanctuary of solitude. Or not. As we pulled out our snacks, we noticed a gray jay on a nearby branch. Then two. Three. Four. More…. 12 jay birds, all eyeing our every bite. Bold, very friendly, very hungry jay birds, inconspicuously seemed to appear out of nowhere. Jay birds that survive the harshest of winter conditions (WHY do you stay here?) Opportunists in this reality called survival.

snow glob_Hurricane Ridge_1-11-09Most of the heavy snow from the trees had been blown away or fallen off, but here and there huge globs (for lack of a better word) of heavy compacted snow several feet thick clung to tree tops bent over with the burden. The winters here can be harsh and unforgiving. There is a reason it is called “Hurricane” Ridge, and as we headed back, the wind was already picking up and dark clouds moving in from the West.

We all have our “get healthy” resolutions that take one form or another. Mine, this year, is simply to GET OUT.  The health, exercise, and attitude will naturally follow. It is so easy to get so wrapped up in the day-to-day stuff that we forget to take time to enjoy what others drive miles and miles to experience. Looking back, that day-to-day stuff is quite forgettable. It just gets in the way of appreciating what is out your back door:  the kinds of things memories are really made of.



  1. Such beauty. I recognise what you say about the need to get out and how easy it is to forget about the wonders on your own doorstep.

  2. It’s so true. I admit, I am fortunate to live in a place that has an abundance of natural beauty – but sometimes it’s so hard to find time to take a day off to enjoy it. It is important not to lose site of appreciating things that are at home.

    I enjoy your site! Thanks for checking back in on mine.

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