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: