by Amy Larsen
Wyo4News feature writer
According to my calendar, we are officially in spring. But lately, I-80 seems to be closed as much as it is open. As of this writing, there is about 4” of snow on my porch. I’m not sure where the miscommunication in the universe has happened defining the season, but one thing that is clear is that most people are done with winter.
However, I am not sure I am one of them. Sure, I am done with closed roads and arctic air, but over the years, I have actually come to enjoy and look forward to winter adventures, and I am on a quest to get others to enjoy them as well.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take a snowmobile trail ride out of the Albany Lodge up to Medicine Bow Peak. It was windy, cold, and incredible! My family has been vacationing in the Snowy Range dating back to my grandparents’ honeymoon. I have fished and kayaked several of the lakes up there and hiked and skied on many of the trails, but this was the first time I have been out on Libby Flats!
It was incredible to stand at the observation point and look out at the familiar scenery that looked completely different. A scene I have spent many hours staring at in awe had a feeling of strength and resilience I hadn’t seen in it before. Medicine Bow Peak appeared less intimidating but somehow more beautiful and inspired me to start getting in shape so that I can take that hike this summer, to see that area from yet another viewpoint. There is just something about taking those often-unused back roads and trails in the winter to discover a place most people never choose to go. Being able just to open the throttle and go at your speed also has a way of just making you feel alive, even if frozen.
This winter, I also strapped on snowshoes a few times and stepped out on some great trails in Wyoming, some of which I had never been on before. I often found myself questioning if it was easier to break trails or to walk in the path of others. My conclusion was most of the time; it depends on the circumstances around you and the path you are trying to take. Oh, nature and her life lessons!
I will admit that on one snowshoe trip this winter, I got a little turned around on the network of trails that I was on and ended up coming down a different trail than I had taken up. I wasn’t too worried at first until I realized there were many forks in this trail, no markings, and not anyone in sight. To make matters a little more intimidating, it was also snowing, making the trails a bit harder to tell which had fresh tracks and which didn’t.
Yes, there was a moment of panic, but as I stopped to take in my surroundings, I was able to figure out a general idea of where I was, and while I was on an unfamiliar path, I was headed in the right direction. Yep, another life lesson from mother nature there too! A few moments later, a group came up the trail, and a feeling of relief set in, especially as I saw the signs for the trailhead. I definitely enjoyed my beer that night and a hot shower!
I realize winter adventures are not easy and probably not for everyone. There is a lot more planning, preparation, and gear involved. Plus, the amount of clothing required is ridiculous! There really is nothing fun about putting on layer upon layer, knowing that you still will end up cold, and I generally end up looking like a garden gnome. However, I feel like that is what makes winter adventures unique. They take planning. But when you get out there, you realize there really is nothing like the crispness of the mountain air in the winter. There is a much-needed solitude and silence that isn’t found anywhere else, and your soul didn’t even realize it needed it. There is confidence gained in knowing that despite the winter conditions, you didn’t let it stop you from getting out and enjoying life.
Am I ready for spring, summer, and fall to get here? Absolutely! I have already made plans to search for petroglyphs, go 4-wheeling and have a list a mile long of hikes I want to take and places to put my kayak in the water at. I dream of maybe camping this year, fishing, and even being out at a campfire under the stars with friends and loved ones. I am even trying to convenience someone to take me on a Wyoming adventure I have yet to experience!
I have already brought out the Chaco’s a few times over the last few days, and my feet were excited not to be covered! However, my soul is happy I still have one more ride this winter, one more chance to sit in the beauty and silence of winter. I look forward to taking in those final moments of winter to prepare myself for the new life and changes that will inevitably come when Wyoming finally allows spring to arrive.