They nudge and prod me out the door. Joey will escalate his pawing into a smacking until I relent and we get into the car and go. Joey is my four-year-old Irish Setter. Scamps is my three-year-old golden. He is tall, she is small.
We humans try to capture nature in photos, painting, and songs. In our attempts to preserve our experiences we diminish their value because the preservation becomes more important than the experience. Dogs demonstrate that nature is to be enjoyed in the fullness of the now.
When the mountains have three feet of fresh powder, as they did this past January — most powder pigs head to the resorts to compete with the crowds — I did this for 15 years but now I take my dogs to the mountains or risk my house being destroyed.
We ascend for over an hour and find the freshies in a secluded Millcreek canyon the whereabouts I won’t share. Scamps bounds through the deep, getting buried with each stride. Up the canyon, she climbs the steep side then slides down riding her own personal avalanche. Over and over she does this. Joey is more inclined to follow trails and stick close.
We climb off-trail through deep fresh powder. Tree limbs are dumping their loads and crystallizing our air. We reach the top then jump down a steep 50’ chute. We harvest nature’s bounty of tiny flakes piled high but so light — in face and fur shots. I somersault the last ten feet: gravity ceases to exist and the soft purity of the deep snow envelopes and catches me as I fall into a warm blanket of deep light and dry. Heated from the hike I feel no cold—only refreshment.
Wagging their tails in joy, giant smiles on their faces, I pet the flakes off their whitewashed heads and bodies. These two live for this. I am their means to this fulfillment, their car-driving tool. But in so being their tool, I come to realize that there is nothing better than being here and now in nature with them and I am honored to be used.
Despite inversions, climate change and political turmoil we can find peace and joy in the mountains. The number one recommendation for this year’s February Fun Guide is to head to the mountains: on foot, on skis, with or without dogs, with a sled, with kids, with a camera: go and enjoy the snow and thus remember why you live in Utah.