It’s not backpacking, but it was light; does that count? If not, delete. At this time of year, getting out is a mental challenge for me. Not a physical one; I’m always up for movement. But the cold, 5F today, plus the lack of sun makes motivation difficult. But I need to keep in condition, and this is what I have available to me, so out I go.

I did a 5.4 mile loop, from a parking area midway up a ridge, up to the top, then to the bottom, maybe 1100 foot drop? Not sure and no one has a good map. Then followed along a valley and back up.  This is my view – snow, spruce, birch, aspen, and more snow. Did I mention snow? The tiniest hint of sun, with no warmth, and no direct sun on any part of my body, ever. In a month our daylight starts to return, slowly. It is just dark now. There is wildlife if you look, and are patient – and dressed more warmly than I was. I hiked fast to stay warm this time.

Sounds boring, but I like to think when I’m out there, quiet, a few birds, still. And as I trudged through the squeaky dry snow, walking brought to mind an event more than 10 years ago, that made me so happy to remember.

A longtime coworker had been born with a hearing impairment, and it worsened with age. By her 40s she read lips and heard little of what went on around her. Finally technology came up with a hearing aid that actually addressed her particular condition. She started to use them slowly, turning them on for only a few hours at a time, giving her brain time to create the pathways to interpret sound. Isn’t it amazing that the brain can do that after so many years?! Having the aids on longer was overwhelming for her. One cold winter morning as I arrived at my building, she was standing outside weeping, sobbing… and also laughing. I was alarmed and asked her what was wrong. She answered that she didn’t know that snow made sound underfoot, as she walked. She never made it in to work that day; she walked and walked and walked, listening to the snow squeaking and crunching as she went, for the first time in her life.