Sidehill to December – Slant Walking

November 30th and a few streaks of sun break through the clouds, brighten the mountain and then vanish. Even as two darknesses are on the way – that of storm and that of December – the brief scene looks a little like a divine barcode, and, right now, in search of some trail-time after a day of talk, I’m buying.

For years I’ve made much of November for the quality of its slanting light and its long looks across terrain once obscured by summer’s foliage. It is, even as its days dwindle early, a season of discovery. December, however, has always felt like descent, and, were it not for the solstice turn near month’s bottom and the hoped-for flash of new snow, I’d opt for elsewhere.

But here, in the White Mountains that Henry Thoreau visited only in summer, I know also there’s beauty to be found on this crossover day, as he knew was true in all seasons and locales. Walking up for these few hours is simply another way of looking for it; it is kin to traveling “a good deal in Concord” and bringing back, perhaps, some word-leaves, or even a late blooming word-flower.

The trails I take work across slope, over the leaves of summer past, and it doesn’t take long to reach the clouds and their gauzy light. A scrim of snow deepens as I go up, though it, and I, never get to full winter. At the walk’s highpoint, a thousand feet above the valley, I pause at the juncture of trails, where one slants back down and, warm from climbing, savor a different season’s solitude. I’ll start down when I get a thermal prod, and I hope the forecast rain and sleet hold off until I get back to my car.

But really I hope only for what I have: this forested moment on crossover day, reminder that beauty and mystery are year-round.

Here, to follow, is short photographic saunter from the walk:

Sidehill up.

Sidehill up.

 

Along the upper contour.

Along the upper contour.

 

The crossover.

The crossover.

 

In the clouds.

In the clouds.

 

Snyder Brook going to winter.

Snyder Brook going to winter.

 

And on down.

And on down.

2 Comments

Filed under Arts, Environment, General, Henry David Thoreau, Literature, Living Deliberately, Nature, The Roost

2 Responses to Sidehill to December – Slant Walking

  1. scott

    N. Presidentials are a fitting place to walk in a season that looks aslant — all that failing light through the canopy, the cross-running skitter of the RMC trails. And no ice, I see!

    • Sandy Stott

      Only ice along Snyder Brook, which rerouted me from my aim at the Dome and sent me side-hilling along the Short Line, though I turned down well before King Ravine. All that is changed by now, of course – the season of spikes is here.