In Search of Golden Horn

If you’ve been out lately, you must have had a boost from the warm weather and awesome snow.

Our last outing was absolutely heavenly.

First of all, I couldn’t believe I was willing to go for a long ski with just two thermal tops, long johns and ski pants. I didn’t even feel the need for my toque. I did bring it though, and was glad about the light jacket, too.

Oscar was fine just with booties, plus he really has grown again and out of the green jacket, not to mention his woolly hair. He doesn’t shed, so his natural coat just keeps growing and keeping him warm.

The day began at the lot, and skiing with Oscar was on the agenda. We tried to recruit for this trek, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen and you have to go because you’re losing light.

I used a very handy red fanny pack with a comfy waist strap that held my big camera, a water bottle, tissue, sketchbook and four to six ink pens with plenty of room to spare.

I was ready.

Starting out on snowmobile tracks, I stepped aside for bounding Oscar to breeze by me. He was a very excited puppy. We hadn’t been out on the “sticks and rods” for a coonz’ age. I planned to go to the backyard loop we discovered in November. Now the snow was deeper and even the existing tracks were soft.

We looped around our block to the cul-de-sac and down the greenbelt into a frozen swamp. As soon as we were in the threshold of forest, my camera was out and Oscar was onto a scent under the snow.

The sky was gorgeous with pinks and yellows as the sun was just thinking about dipping, but there was at least an hour of bright left. It had seemed like weeks without even a break of clouds. I was so beside myself with gratitude.

It was only minus 4, as well.

Before the swamp was a steep short hill with a mean corner, so I stepped down sideways a bit and then dropped right in, it was very fast and I just barely maintained around the whip of a corner. The swamp let right into the deepest of woods.

I followed Oscar, who was madly jolting out of my way into the narrowing trail full of bumps lined with short willows and gnarly deadfall. I just love it when the trees are weighted down with fluffy white masses.

I felt like I was in a dream world. Oscar was running full tilt.

Coming up to a hill, I realized I was already at the main trailway, and that if I went left now I would be home again too soon. So right it was, to the unknown.

Shortly thereafter, I saw a silhouette of a giant black dog in the distance and another skier coming my way. We cleared our dogs with each other and introduced ourselves. A neighbour, almost in their self-built house and loving life in the country.

I was very pleased to meet her and Mr. Padfoot. Oscar really liked them, too. I asked her about the trail and she, too, was navigating the backwoods for the first time, before toting her two-year-old boy down the back.

I was excited to hear a nice view of Golden Horn was ahead. We carried on our separate ways and hoped for a future ski together. Yukoners are so friendly.

The trail had a really straight view that went along a cutline. I dipped down onto a frozen creek, up a long hill and down into another creekway. I loosely recalled a turn to the right to see the mountainview and veered off the trail. We both slowed right down, Oscar trudging away in his new booties.

At this point, I was starting to sweat and loved the feeling of being energetically renewed outside in the wilderness.

The trail was freshly broken, so there was no fast gliding, just packing sugary snow.

It came out again onto another machine-packed stretch and I watched the sky change to more intense colours, I hurried and the trail just kept going on and on it seemed, up hill as well. I knew if I just followed to the brightest bit of orangey pink colour through the tree branches, maybe, eventually, there would be a great lookout.

The camera came out a few more times and I felt an urgency calling to me. The light was changing fast.

I realized my deep obsession with mountain lookouts. I just had to see this unknown perspective. Maybe it would be the best composition for another Golden Horn painting?

We rounded yet another corner and another, the snow highlighting brighter and brighter coloured light as I continued forward.

I came to a bit of a clearing and could see a sharp line of the mountaintop weaving in and out of the focus of tall trees. My breath was taken, and the camera was out again but my clicking skills are more limited. I wanted more mountain and knew that maybe just around the corner it might open up again, and I could sketch it, but ahead was another wall of trees and unknown outcomes.

I had to turn back now, I felt that I was pressing on six to eight kilometres and that meant at least that many kilometres back to the house.

Light was fading faster now.

Luckily, I was very satisfied with how far I had come and knew the next time I would find out what was coming next. Maybe bring a friend? MMM … lunch, too.

The journey back home felt long, Oscar was starting to slow down a bit and I pulled my left hip and felt a burning blister on my right heel. Yet the consistent downhills were such a treat and, finally, I saw home base.

It was a bit of a slog and I can already feel aches coming on.

Oscar is still sleeping!

That’s where it is, folks, a little piece of heaven in everyone’s backyard … go out and get some.

You’ll feel so good about it, you might even get obsessed.

Try to accurately plan how long you’ll be gone and when you go, so your loved one isn’t starting his search party upon your arrival, because it does happen.

Have fun!

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