Well, I got a little behind on cataloguing our adventure, but am raising the sails to once again catch the wind! The next few posts will catch us back up timeline-wise. I’ll also be adding in some posts that are not timeline based, but more of a storytelling nature.
For Once, Then, Something. Part Two.
In the early afternoon, after the excitement of finally seeing our elusive fox, we hear the distance roar of snowmobiles. The owners, and Todd have arrived! It has only been two months, but it is so great to see Todd’s face, and to hug the owners, who delightedly tell us we have done a good job thus far. (Todd is Zach’s little brother. He isn’t really that little. He is 24, about 6ft tall, lives on his own, does adult stuff, and is a great guy. To us however, he is forever the beloved little brother.)
We hurriedly haul our resupply into the lodge, and exchange excited conversations. There are two snowmobiles that we will be using for our ride out of the backcountry, and each of them is fitted with a sled for supplies, gear, and bags. We prepared for this trek before we came and purchased a large enclosed dog crate with a insulated encasement that zips closed to seal in warmth, and keep out wind. We gave each dog the allotted amount of sedatives that morning. Dolly was already half asleep, but Ruff was nearly glued to the ceiling out of excitement of seeing Libby (the owners brilliant, athletic, and wonderful cattle dog). We corral dolly and Ruff into the crate, check the ratchet straps on the crate and bags in the sleds, and load up. Dawn stays behind to man the lodge while we are in transit. Tom and Dawn Carter are the owners of the lodge and outfitter company.
The ride is absolutely wonderful and easy going. Zach and Tom on the lead sled towing our bags and gear, and Todd and I behind, towing the pups. There are a few places we ride cautiously and slowly, where Tom had to cut through fallen trees with a chainsaw on the pass on the way in, or when we are winding alongside a drop off. The trail looks both familiar and freshly new from the memory I have of driving up to the lodge in the late fall. I remember sections of trees, or the faces of the mountains, but they appear different now. Tucked in and solitary. The forest always makes me feel alive and curious, but the winter silence reminds me of patience and contemplation.
The sky is overcast through much of the trek, but the sun makes a grand appearance as we ride across a snow covered meadow. Striking red bush branches erupt from the snow, in the distance a mysterious tree line, and a final magnificent backdrop of mountains. The trail is sometimes smooth, and other times bumpy, which I imagine would be gleefully fun on a joy ride, but with my furry darlings encaged on a sled, I worriedly look back at each jolt to make sure the sled hasen’t tipped.
We have a great ride without a single mishap. When we open the crate to let the dogs out. Dolly is lying down, and Ruff is standing over her. They both look untroubled and well. The relief washes over me, as this has been the main stress point of our adventure so far.
We help Tom load up the sleds onto the trailer, and pass blessings and good tidings between each other as we depart. The trucks were parked where the road stops being cleared, 25 miles from the lodge, and 18 miles from cascade. We blast the heat in the car to warm our fingers and toes. My toes don’t stop aching from the cold until we pass cascade and are midway through the canyon back to Boise. We hug Zachs family, and stay up late in the evening telling stories, before falling into our bed, asleep before we finish falling.
We spend the next day visiting our grandparents and soaking in the love and hugs they offer us. We all take turns telling stories and listening. In the time we are not with family, we are doing our last minute prep to fly out early in the morning.
We arrive early to the airport and participate in the ritualistic dance of flashing ID’s and papers, removing shoes and electronics, and standing where we should (and sometimes accidentally where we shouldn’t!) Our early flight is delayed until the late afternoon so we eat a long lunch and read. I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and Zach reads 1984 by George Orwell. We share our literary discoveries and decide that we will swap books when each of our reading lists open up a bit more. (We are both booked out [pun intended] on our reading lists a couple books in advance.)
After take off, I close my eyes and listen to the rumble of whispering voices. After only two months of silence the whispers seem cacophonous and loud. Like echoes in a canyon carrying on forever, with voices that don’t stop calling.
Upon landing we catch a shuttle that takes us to my grandmother’s house. We have travelled 30 miles by snowmobile, 100 miles by truck, 2,192 miles by plane, and shuttled another 70 miles to my grandmas doorstep. My grandma meets us on the driveway and pulls me into a hug that I have traveled a collected 2,392 miles for. It feels wonderful. We stay up late again, sharing and listening to stories. And again, fall into bed sleeping before our faces hit the pillows.
We wake to a breakfast of perfectly fried eggs and spam, made by my Grandmothers hilarious, fun, and wonderful companion Dave. We chug coffee and chat till the rest of my family arrives. After noon, my Mother, Sister, and brother in law parade in, and we all turn the volume up (and the hearing aids down) in our excitement. My sister drove my mom, her husband, and her big white bird (of some type of exotic parrot) all the way down to Florida from the DC area. I cannot help but stifle laughter at the image of my mother (who is a wonderful woman, but a force to be reckoned with) getting pinged in the head with seeds that the bird so artfully launches at her the entire ride down the coast.
We spend our days eating and drinking wine together (except for my poor pregnant sister who didn’t get to drink wine, but graciously drove us everywhere!), laughing and telling stories, swimming in the pool, and reading. I stay up late each night talking with my sister, we live to far away from one another, but it cannot be helped with the lives that we lead, so we bask in sister-ness whenever we are together.
We caught a lizard, I found a magnificent spider (which is a mediocre feat to everyone else), and the whole family played Cards Against Humanity, which was hilarious and fun. However, it is hard to decide which is more embarrassing, to read the dirty cards in front of grandma.. Or to hear grandma both pick and read the dirtiest card..
Zach and I also stopped to enjoy a sunset. The lodge is cradled between mountains, so we only see the telltale light displayed across the mountain tops, but no actual sunrise or sunset. After a few months sunset-less, we stood silent and still, mouths gaping and catching bugs.
The family fun and joyous affair ends all too soon, and we find ourselves boarding our plane for the return flight. We enjoyed ourselves so much, we hardly noticed the melting heat. We did have to buy cheap cotton socks at the grocery store, the wool ones really were to much to handle!
It is when I sit down after boarding that I finally have the time and composure to hear the silence calling, and feel the pull to return to the mountains. Though I enjoyed our brief expedition back into the hustling reality, and loud boisterous family, I am yearning to return to our own adventure. I miss the lodge, the trees and snow, the silence and wonder of the wilderness. Our furry and nosey pups, our little family that makes our den wherever we are together.
The plane takes off and I close my eyes. I listen to the soft mumbled cacophony. It is as loud as last time, but now that we are desensitized, a little more subtle. The voices fade away as my yearning to return slips into a daydream of standing in front of the kitchen window. I am staring through the window pane, where quickly streaks a flash of orange, then the nothing black of my eyelids.
For once, then, something.
Ta ta for now,
*Title and final line. For Once, Then, Something. A wonderful poem by Robert Frost.