Today the sky is flat, still and white – almost as pale as the snow on the ground. You can not easily make out where the snow covered peaks end and where the sky begins. In light like this, you can not see shadow nor shade nor visible curve to the ground. It is as solid and white as a sheet of paper laid heavy across the land. Trees and rocks seem to float on the surface. There is little depth perception. Visibility is low and level. You can not see the trail until you are on top of it, at best. Through the parks, there is no way to see the packed trail I have previously set, yet if I stray from the trail, I post hole in a foot or two. Better to stick to the trail if I can.
Yet I can not rely on my eyes to do so. I rely on my feet instead. Each step can feel if the snow had been packed before me, or if I’ve missed, straying a bit to the right or left. It’s slower this way, feeling your way across the wide open parks. It leaves my eyes free to scan the mountainside as they are of no use to keep me on my path.
Across the park, I see a darker form. Perhaps at first I think it may just be a patch of grass or buck brush sticking through the thinner snow on the hillside. But then I notice the silhouette. A coyote. Just sitting. Perhaps looking for a mouse as the hunting might be better there with the exposed dirt and grass. But mostly, it looks like he’s just sitting, as a coyote will do. Sitting and watching, perhaps thinking, day dreaming. It’s quite a ways over there, and the visibility is poor, but he’s been watching me. It’s almost as if he recognizes me. And I can see he has no fear, no care that I am there. He looks towards me, then away and off in the distance. He need not move. He knows I will be on my way soon enough.
As I continue on and leave him be, I think of how some come to the mountains to see what they can take. Others how little they can take. Those ones feel the mountain. There is no easy answer. How can you teach respect for the world around you, except by learning to feel.