By Clyde Davis: Local columnist
The sun was setting behind the mountains in Vancouver, B.C., bringing with it the cold Canadian coastal night. Our skis were beginning to ice up, and we were still several miles from the lodge with its warm and welcoming fire, its hot tubs, its steaming, inviting drinks. We’d never been to this ski area before, never even been to Vancouver, with its legendary, mountains-meet-the-ocean beauty.
There was an atmosphere of almost tangible presence, however, to this particular resort. It wasn’t one of the new, birthed-in-the-’80s types of ski areas. Its history as a lodge went back to the 1920s, and the aura of tradition, and those very different days, was all around us.
Steep. The mountains were steep, no gently rolling hills, and by the same token, no extreme-style drop-offs. Standing at the halfway point on the trail, it looked like a scene from a 1950s ski-country advertisement.
Derek turned to me and grinned. “Ya think we’ve done a time travel bit here?” he said, raising his voice a little to be heard above the wind.
I wiped the snow from my clear goggles. It was flying pretty heavy now, and I hoped we’d make it back without losing our way, or perhaps, losing our way any further than we already had.
Had we lost our way? The giant cedars and pines, the immense tunnel of spruce, made me wonder if we had passed through here before.
“We’d best get going, great as it might be.” Part of me wanted to stay here and immerse ourselves in this all.
I dug my poles into the icing-over trail and pushed off downhill, going faster than I meant to, hoping he could keep up with me. Normally I let him take the lead, but something in my gut was telling me to get moving,keep ahead of the darkness.
We’d left New Mexico looking for a different kind of spring break, coming here on a whim and because we had just experienced one of the drabbest, driest and least enjoyable winters I had ever known. It hadn’t snowed at all, I believe, until February, and then just a bit. So Vancouver looked desperately appealing as we played with the Internet, trying to find an affordable destination. Thus we opted for snow rather than sand and sun,going where winter lasts well into April.
Moving down the hill, scarcely putting any effort into the gliding, I could almost touch the scents, the taste, if you will, of the deep forest and the energizing cold. Stars were visible now, crystal-cut against the gray velvet sky, and this far from the lodge, there was certainly no artificial lighting. That peculiar sound that is not really a sound, the aura of falling snow, was coming in around and through my mask. It blocked out, as it always does, any real sound that might be present. The moon was very nearly full, and highlighted the trail against the surrounding depth of darkening green.
I was so caught up in the mistiness of the moment that I didn’t, at first, notice that Derek wasn’t behind me.
(To be continued.)
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: