By: H. Anne Thurston, Columnist
The lights shone as brilliant moons up and down and across Boyne Mountain’s main slopes as we approached Boyne Falls on 131. It was a Thursday night and the temperature hung at about twenty-eight degrees. Despite the brilliance of a summer sun-lit afternoon the Mountain had a fuzzy, foggy appearance – it was snowing!!
I drove onto the grounds to better allow Ray to see the huge equipment which was scattered across the slopes as it ‘rained’ snow for those who will arrive in a few days to experience the thrill of downhill skiing and snowboarding. Huge columns of snow could be seen exploding out of each cannon-like machine. Although real in every aspect each flake was manmade. The slopes and pine trees glistened in their white attire; it was breathtakingly beautiful.
Ray looked upon the scene from the eyes of a down-stater who loved Michigan’s wilderness and its opportunities to fish, hunt and penetrate its interiors by various means. Of the four seasons winter has become his favorite. A snowmobiler rather than a skier our backgrounds are different but our reasons for our love of snow and pines are identical. It is the unbelievable beauty and serenity of a world which is hibernating in preparation for its radiant burst into life the following spring. It is the short nap basic to renewed energy we all cherish from time to time.
Winter and its snow bring back the memory of a time in the late sixties when Ed and I decided to switch to cross country skiing as downhill equipment had taken a radical change in design and cost. Finding no cross country equipment available in the area we asked an old friend then living in Vermont where we might find it. The result was a trip to that state to not only find the skies and shoes required but to learn the sport. The resultant experience was side-splitting.
We had our two daughters with us. It was Christmas break at Central where they were both studying. The store owner who outfitted us suggested the Appalachian Trail as the perfect place on which to learn our cross-country skiing techniques. Following his directions we drove out of the small college town where the shop was located to the dead end of a country road. Nothing was in sight except a small road side sign directing us to an access to the trail. Choosing sides of the car, Ed on one and we three females on the other we stripped off our traveling clothes down tour birthday attire and donned the long Johns etc. of our new skiing garb. In the process we about froze.
Repacking our backpacks we strapped them on our backs and set out down the roadside gully to enter a narrow trail leading into the woods. In doing so I discovered that contrary to normal summertime backpacking the weight on my back threw me too far back on my skies and I ended up losing it to slide down the ten foot embankment flat on my back. Laughter disturbed the tranquility of the day and once the other three managed to set me up on my skies, pack in place, we became aware of the spot of yellow snow I had left. I attained somewhat of a hunched, very unprofessional stance to make it to the cabin where we were to spend the night.
Large enough for fifty bunkers the one room log building had a huge open fireplace at one end and an enormous black iron range in its center. The stove’s pipe hung suspended from the roof rafters until it entered the end chimney. It leaked clouds of smoke as Ed endeavored to warm the vast room. I dried my pants over a stool in front of the fireplace. It was not Utopia.
Having back packed the length of Isle Royale twice and in Canada’s wilderness off the Algoma Central RR frequently Ed and I were not novices at the sport. Despite this we learned some hard lessons on the Appalachian Trail. One was that sleeping out under the pine on a winter’s night atop a deeply snow covered mountain side was a very cold thing to have to do. This happened because night fell before we managed to reach an Adirondack shelter. As Ed’s and my sleeping bags converted into a double bed situation with the proper zippering the four of us kept from freezing by all sleeping within it. No one could turn over unless it was mutually agreed upon. We used the girl’s bedrolls as extra covers.
But the shocker was in the morning when we discovered the shoe strings in our ski shoes had frozen solid and we couldn’t put them on without finding some means to thaw them. From then on they slept with us! The next time we went east to cross country ski was to the warm, comfy, friendly and fun Trapp Family Lodge.
Maybe we who live here in Boyne should think about installing and operating snow blowers on the roof tops of Main Street, SOBO and our lake front.
Have a wonderful Christmas and be an ambiguous giver to others.
H. Anne Thurston is a proud Boyne City resident, and the author of “E-Males” and “The Book of Anne.” Her column, Beautiful Boyne, appears in The Boyne City Gazette each week.