I’ll admit it – I’m challenged by winter in Montana. It’s not so much the cold, as the fact that it’s dark for most of the day (or so it seems) and I just want to sit inside, next to the wood stove, and read a book. Or sleep the winter away …… which just isn’t a practical solution. So, I was determined to embrace it a little better this year (my special lights and Vitamin D3 helped make the embrace a little more loving) and get out into our glorious Montana outdoor winters.
The extremely mild winter this year here has definitely made it easier to get out – though the occasional hurricane-force winds have made standing up once I am outside a challenge (and the winds put a real damper on the enjoyment factor, too). Even so, we’ve managed to get into Red Lodge (which has snow, unlike Joliet, where we live) a few times, and enjoy some lovely cross-country skiing.
This winter we bought passes to the Red Lodge Nordic Center because it has groomed trails in vast, open areas as well as through the woods. It’s a beautiful area, with the Beartooth foothills looming in the background (and depending on the light, if I scrunch my eyes and face, I can almost pretend that I’m looking at waves, lapping off to the far shore).
The trails wind through open meadows,
or through the aspen woods.
On one trail, I even found a remnant of Christmas:
One of the events that the Red Lodge Nordic Center holds monthly throughout the winter is full-moon skiing. We tried to go every month last winter, but the full-moon night always turned out to be cloudy, too cold, too windy ….. too something, so we never made it. Not so this year – we went to full-moon skiing earlier this month, and, despite very icy trails, had an incredible time skiing on moon-lit trails, each one marked with little glo-lights hanging from tree limbs. The main entry trail was lit – and so welcoming – with a long row of luminarias.
With the full moon reflecting off the snow, it was amazing how bright the night was – so bright that the trees cast shadows.
If you got too cold, a blazing fire kept skiers warm.
Something about the night seemed to bring out a ghost or two, too, in this picture of Bridget and Mike:
And now, we’re hoping for a little more snow and a beautiful full moon in a cloudless sky for February. And I’m going to plan on bringing a small tripod (shivering while holding down the camera button on a long exposure) and learning how to take some better moon-lit photos.