Journal of Michael Baum / Travels of an Artist

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Snow Shoeing at Brown's Creek

  
                                           (This photo by Paul Hanke)

Saturday
The road in: mud, the consistency of sticky mashed potatoes grabs our tires and sucks us inexorably down the road, sometimes flinging us suddenly, hair-raisingly toward the ditch.

The trail: It's not snow. It's a million snow cones spilled out across the trail in reefs and islands. We sling the snow shoes on our backs and hike through the slippery stuff for at least a mile and a half before we reach a consistent blanket of snow covering the ground. We follow a solitary ski track through the forest, our snowshoes breaking through the crusty spring snow into the soft powder beneath. Tough going.

Stillness. Weak sun filters through the aspens. Small streams murmur, muffled under the snow. Snow squalls sweep through the canyon in waves. Jagged peaks softened in snow appear and are erased, and appear again. We make our way through the meadow crossing the stream on log bridges too narrow for snow shoes.

The world is a monochrome, black, white, and endlessly shifting shades of gray. So subtle. So overwhelmingly powerful. I gather the scene in photos. I know that they will project only a two-dimensional shadow of what is here.

The "Falls" sign is nearly buried in the snow, but Paul spots the trail to the falls off to the left. Virgin snow. No one has been here for awhile. The falls are silent, encased in ice, arrested motion. Blue ice. We break here for awhile. Paul scrambles up the falls for close-in photos. Patrice and I snack and take photos of Paul, hoping he doesn't slip through the ice into its liquid center. After all, he has the hot chocolate with him. He lives. We warm ourselves with cocoa, and head back.

There is another hair-raising drive back to solid ground, then burgers, fries, malts, and a drive home through snow and rain.

Later: the photos are, as predicted,  just faint reminders of the place. Some good compositions. I don't anticipate painting any of these scenes. Their dark beauty is beyond my abilities. At least for now. I'll return sometime when I've grown. Sometimes it's like that.

 

 
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