Monday, March 1, 2021

Non-Stopping by Woods - 3.1 #sol21 Story Challenge

Two days before returning for my sixth year participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge, I went for a walk. Really, it was a cross-country ski. Really it was two cross-country skis.

The first involved a pleasant five-mile amble through the woods with my wife and two friends. At the conclusion of that loop, I found myself craving more time outdoors. "Okay if I ski back to where we're staying?" I asked my significant other, who readily agreed. We parted ways at noon.

The second ski took me along trails that I knew well enough from mountain biking in other seasons, though months of snow had transformed the landscape thoroughly and magically. I saw a handful of other skiers and a few groups on snowmobiles as I shuffled and glided. I reached a familiar spot that I recognized, from prior forays, for being a frequently confusing intersection by bike. I proceeded to get confused. I found what I was pretty certain was a different trail going in generally the right direction. I followed its ruffled snowmobile track until a downed tree marked where those never-seen snowmobiles had turned around. The path, though, beckoned invitingly into the distance under a defined canopy of trees, so I clambered over the tree and proceeded to break my own trail across the blank snow's canvas, my tracks adding to the pockmarks and dimples of animals. At some mysterious point, the trail was no more, and I thought it prudent to verify my location by phone, not to mention check in with my wife. The cold, though, rendered my device powerless once it blinked the time at me. It was just before 4pm. I felt a pang of worry.

Not one for turning around (a tragic flaw in another version of this story), I pressed on. I could soon see I was contouring along a ridge, a few hundred feet above a basin that I speculated -- dreamed? -- held the road I was seeking. From somewhere below, I could detect more snowmobile buzz, which I took for encouragement. I picked my way down the least intimidating slopes. I popped out at a familiar junction, conveniently by a map kiosk that pegged me far west of where I had intended. From here, I knew my way. I muttered Frost verses from memory about "promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep" and resumed striding with purpose. I made it home at dusk, just after 6 pm, or about 15 minutes after my wife had alerted county search and rescue. I had a few sheepish, apologetic phone calls to make and my first slice.

p.s. For those who like pictures with their words, here are my Family-Circus-style noodlings:





8 comments:

  1. It must have been scary for you to be so far off course. I often have that "is this the way I got lost before or the right way?" feeling and it is so disorienting. You got your slice, indeed!

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  2. Glad to have you back - to the SOLSC and from your foray into the wilderness.

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  3. I'm glad this story has a happy ending - even if it involves sheepish phone calls. And I'm willing to bet that there were a few minutes of absolute pleasure as you broke your own trail in the middle of the woods. Worth it? I don't know, but it sure makes a good story.

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  4. Oh my goodness....I felt the panic when your phone wouldn't work! Your poor wife. And yet....the perfect first slice! Here's to (safer) adventures this month!

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  5. Wow, Brian! What an extraordinary tale, and that it should occur just right before your first slice! Loved "though months of snow had transformed the landscape thoroughly and magically." So many great lines here. Such a scary ordeal. It reminded me of getting very lost on a trail this past summer in Vermont. But there was no snow, it was not near dusk, and I had a working cell phone. Lovely to reconnect with you.

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  6. That's quite an adventure! I have to say I was a bit worried for you when the snowmobiles turned around. I haven't cross country skied in years. If I do decide to go back out on the trails, I think I'll stay on the road more travelled. Ha!

    BTW - you made some great word choices.

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  7. These can be some of the best solo adventure days... just a touch of risk, with the reward of a warm home to return to. I, too, have found myself reciting poetry while pushing through final miles in the dark. Love this piece!

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