Onward and Upward

Twenty minutes to seven. It’s still dark. I am alone on a windswept mountainside. Below me, the lights of the Flathead Valley twinkle together in a conglomerated orange and white mass. I turn my back to the lights, matching my stride to the deep breaths which heave in and out of me.

Onward and upward. It’s hard work, but brings a worthwhile and satisfying reward. Three or four mornings each week I stick climbing skins to the bottom of my skis and skin up Big Mountain. I love going uphill early in the morning. I have the place to myself. Empty chairs hang limply above me. The cables wear a crust of snow, much like the multilayered frills hanging from Victorian English collars and sleeves. Just as light illumines the snow, I reach the summit. Depending on the wind, I either take shelter in the lee of trees or sit on a chairlift. Sunrise is a wonderful event, filling me with joy and awe, just as it fills my world with light. As the sun climbs higher, I must descend. A car waits 2000 feet below, prepared to take me back to a busy life beneath the layer of clouds. A colorful and exciting life in the grey valley under the ever present cloud layer. I bid the sun goodbye and swoosh down the mountain, leaving only a cloud of swirling snow behind.

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