No, not the poem by John Greenleaf Whittier. This is a true tale.
Linda and I love the winter and winter sports. It is interesting that I never worked that affection, like our love of fly fishing, into my books. Go figure. And we moved from Colorado to California five years ago. Why would a couple of snow hounds do something like that? Not sure.
Anyway, we traded the Rockies for the Sierras, which are a very diferent deal. The storms that come from the West over the Pacific are heavily moisture laden. Two years ago we went up, with the best of intentions to ski, and found ourselves, snowbound. All roads to and from the lodge where we stayed were closed and NONE of the local ski areas were open. Over twenty years we lived in Colorado I don’t believe a ski area ever closed. However, two feet in the Colorado mountains is a big storm. The snow is drier, as the storms deposit moisture on their way east and there is less of it than in the Sierras. But on that particular trip, the region received twelve feet in three days!
Consequently, we’ve paid more attention to forecasts and generally go up at the last minute when we know there are no big storms in the offing. On our most recent trip the weather was supposed to be clear for the week, with the exception of a mere five inches on the Sunday we drove up.
Well, as hard as it may be to believe, meteorologists sometimes get it wrong. We planned to ski at Kirkwood (I planned, as Linda is recovering from foot surgery and decided snowshoeing a better option). The drive took us past Kirkwood, the area we had targeted. Well by the time we passed it conditions were near whiteout and we found the road closed in both directions due to avalanche danger.
Kirkwood has only one lodge and, as it was MLK weekend, it was full. We settled for two couches in a day lodge and were not in ecstasy but were at least warm and dry. I should mention that the staff was remarkably helpful and polite. Next morning we headed for our cabin at Sorensen’s a few miles east.
As we were near Donner pass, we thought about what it must have been like to try to survive a winter under those conditions. But not all snowbound stories ended as tragically as did the Donner Party’s.
Which brings me to a remarkable story about an immigrant from Telemark, Norway in the nineteenth century called ‘Snowshoe Thompson‘ (nee John Rue). You can read the entire bio. But I will just mention that he carried the mail from Placerville, CA to Nevada for twenty years. He would make the trip to NV in three days and return in two. He carried no blanket and no gun. He simply kept moving; and he claimed he never got lost even in blizzards. Finally for all his trouble he was never compensated. Talk about community service!
Thompson carried eighty to a hundred pounds of mail, on foot, while we were in an SUV full of gas and with nowhere to go! How did he do it? How did he manage? I suppose because, even though conditions were far more difficult in the nineteenth century, humans are very adaptable.
All of which is a roundabout way of asking you to read or to reconsider ‘The Girl from Ipanema‘. How would our society fare in a mini Ice Age? Would we fall apart like the USA did in my novel. More importantly consider how YOU would fare in such an environment?
A couch and a sleeping bag anyone?