Effort Rewarded

Having lived full time in this part of Idaho for nearly four years - 2005 to 2008 - I learned to sync my outdoor adventures with the seasons. Arriving recently for a stay of about four weeks - most of October and perhaps a bit of November - I knew that Finn and I should focus our trail running efforts on higher ground before snow arrived and hid the trails under a glistening white mantle.

So last Saturday morning, we headed up to Brundage Ski Mountain, the only other area in addition to Ponderosa State Park that's within a few miles of home, has great running trails, and is off limits to hunting.

The weather was cool (low 30s) with skittering clouds and sun breaks. The first snowfall of the year had dusted the summit two days before. Following, the rest of the story in photos:

Morning sun filtered through aspen leaves at mid-mountain. No snow underfoot yet.

A little higher up, deer prints in a spot where a stream flows most of the year. Unlike my malamutes - who would have put noses in a print, inhaling deeply - Finn trotted right over them. Instead, he scanned the hillside for movement.
I haven't met a dog yet who doesn't love rolling in snow. Snorgasms.
Finn using fallen trees to help him scan for deer. Actually, I asked him to get up there for the photo. While he nearly always refuses to look at the camera when asked, he's more than happy to jump onto a prop, like a boulder, or downed tree. He's a show off.
Near the top, views of Payette Lake and Little Payette lake, with McCall just beyond the bigger lake. The snow, even here near the summit, is already melting fast.
Finn didn't need much prompting to pose beneath this sign. He is, indeed, a hotshot.
This chair lift ends just shy of the summit. The fog in the background covers the Meadows Valley, where my house is, which is why we go up high to play, in the sunshine. Finn takes this moment to eat some snow.
Between the top of the chair lift in the prior photo, and the summit, sits this old cabin. The sign above its door reads: "Original Brundage Mountain Lookout Residence ca 1914"
The summit chair lift. Finn wants me to sign him up for snowboard lessons.

As the sign in the window says, it's all downhill from here!
Just opposite the summit chair lift unload platform is this base for a summer yurt. Finn needed little encouragement to jump the four feet onto it. His joy at discovering this play spot with fresh, untouched snow was contagious.

"Wait; was that a squirrel?"

Guess not. Back to the joy of playing in the snow.

Finn would have been happy to stay all morning, have a picnic.

I tried to take one more photo of Finn on the yurt base, from the perspective of the chair lift unloading platform. But the battery in my camera died. That - and the fact that there was a slight breeze and I was getting a bit chilled - signaled it was time to leave and enjoy the five miles of downhill running on Elk trail back to the car.

The more I'm able to play in the forest, the more alive and restored I feel. I've recently made some big changes in my life - quit a job, for example, returning to self-employment and, I hope, more writing - so I carry my stress and worries for a mile or two up the hill. By the time Finn and I arrive at the top, I can't even remember what they were. By then, my only regret is that the girls no longer are able to join us, play in this fresh snow up high. I console myself by reflecting on how many times they did play here - and many other wonderful wilderness spots - with me over the years.

When Finn and I arrive home, the girls give us both a thorough sniff-over as they greet us (or, more accurately, block us in their enthusiasm) at the door. Maybe they relive their own Brundage Mountain ascents vicariously through the smells Finn and I bring home. I hope so.

Life is good. Change is good. Doors are opening and I'm dashing through, following the examples of my dogs: playing at every opportunity, taking joy in simple delights along the way, being in the moment.
Rebecca WallickComment