There was something about stepping out of the pickup truck and swinging a lightly loaded pack full of gear onto my back that had me walking into the firs with a bit of pep in my step. Many would attribute it to the longer daylight hours and the substantial amount of sunshine that we had been receiving; while I am certain that those things were not detrimental to my enthusiasm for that moment, there was more to the equation.
Late winter and early spring can make for somewhat treacherous conditions in the outdoors. If you spend your time fishing, ice conditions start to become sketchy at best. If you are still hunting or trapping, perhaps the start of spring melt limits your access to certain areas as creeks become impassible and roads are washed out.
For myself, on this particular day, I found that the trail I was following as I gained elevation was a mash up of seasons as I wound my way up that south slope. I was seriously regretting my decision to leave the snowshoes at the truck, though at the same time equally grateful I had the foresight to throw on a pair of gaiters overtop my boots before I left the house. It was just enough coverage to keep my feet free of the snow trying to creep in. Partway up, I encountered glare ice that I traipsed around (lest I slip and slide down the rocky embankment right back to where I had started, surely gaining more than just a few bruises along the way). Loose rock, back to deep snow… it was enough to concentrate on as it was, and here I was keeping a keen lookout for the slight chance I may find a freshly dropped shed somewhere, partially concealed beneath the snow that had fallen a few days prior.
After a bit of exploring, I reached the peak. Now, the previous few paragraphs may have led you to believe that this was an epic hike – the truth couldn’t be much farther from it. Perhaps that is why I had such a spring in my step as I left the truck, though. It wasn’t the sunshine and fresh air, but the fact that chronic pain over the last couple of years robbed me of that ability to make such a short adventure possible. This afternoon adventure was miniscule compared to what I used to do, but when the past couple hunting seasons have left me crippled in pain from something as minor as having my trusty rifle slung over my shoulder, I was going to take the win this spring, no matter how small it may seem.
And so I settled in at the top, nestled in against the gnarled roots of a weathered and crooked fir tree. Mug of tea in hand, sunshine on my face, it was just the refresher that I needed before another busy season of hunting, fishing and foraging takes over. The more time I spend in nature, that is what I’ve come to appreciate the most – the moments, no matter how small, mean so much more when you are getting outdoors.