Category Archives: Hill Dog Image


The recent weather pattern, which is yet to complete, has been very un-February-like. 

Though not as warm as last year’s record breaking days,  except for the trails at Elk, no snow in the neighborhood.

When the panoramic views from the top of the mountain reveal more Spring then Winter, the patterns left in nearby trees by overnight freeze reminds us that we’ll soon see March’s nature, lamb or lion like.

Top of Elk Mountain

The top of Elk Mountain is now home to several communications towers.  Years ago, sometimes you could stand outside the small unmanned support buildings, and hear air traffic and other communications.

Not far from where these towers are now, up until the 1960’s a fire tower stood. I remember climbing up the tower stairs as a youngster, and seeing a transit that the ranger would use to pinpoint a fire’s location.

When looking out at the top of the mountain now and seeing how populated the area has become, it’s difficult to imagine that less than a lifetime ago, there were so few people and telephones to merit manning a fire tower.

The transit is now housed at the Clifford Township Historical Society, and can be seen on their website

Snow Tree Shadows

Literally, skiing is a sensuous sport.

The shadows cast by snow storm coated trees contrasted against an impossibly blue sky is visually interesting, and to some very pleasing.

One could argue that tastes and scents are not nearly so obvious as pleasing views of scenery and weather.  Another may counter that discerning such senses takes time and dedication.

It may take decades of winters letting snowflakes land on your tongue before you can tell the difference between the taste of a somewhat raw December snowflake and a fully ripened February snowflake.

A bitter cold dawn smells much more clear than one that rises above freezing, damp, soupy, thick with moisture.

On the first chairlift ride,  faint smell of diesel fuel intrudes, then evaporates as snow cats, having groomed all night,  head back to the barn, rendering slopes to the days first guests.

Continuing through corridors of pines, soft wind pulls through trees, seasons air with scent of turpentine.

Above, crows caw to each other completing their morning congress. Below, squirrels chirp and chatter scurrying this way and that, hunting for and finding breakfast in places that looked like good spots to hide nuts last Autumn.

Skiing in a storm that has already delivered several inches of snow, contracts the world.

A down hood bundled under a helmet eliminates distant noises, making the world much smaller. 

Falling snow obscures everything but ski tips rhythmically thrusting out of surface snow, disappearing back in, again and again, as snow clouds explode against boots, knees and thighs.

Core instinctively poses and flexes, at once sensing and balancing speed, snow depth and body posture, keeping feet swinging back and forth, moving above the ground, below the air.

Ears hear only heartbeat and breath.

Thought stops.

So freed from earth, subject neither to ground or sky, dwelling in between, turn by turn, precious moment by precious moment,

Orchid Buds

Orchid Buds

With highs forecasted to venture into the teens every few days, and lows unspeakably cold for the foreseeable future, it’s nice to be reminded of unrelenting warmth.

Naturally residing on tropical trees, this individual calls home my living room window.

Now cast in front of a winter landscape, she bloomed last June and held her blossoms until November.

Separated from sub-zero air by a mere pane of glass, this orchid plant’s buds swell bigger day by day; promises of color and scent from far away tropical lands.

Snow Making

Busy with winter preparations and with unseasonably mild weather up until this week, I pretty much forgot about winter itself.

As initial snowmaking concentrates on the north west trails, the trails facing my backyard have been unilluminated. Last week or so, the Delaware lights were lit during the day. “Tony probably testing the lights, and making final adjustments before the season.” I thought to myself.

For the past few days, the steady low roar of the snow guns round the clock, is unmistakable.

The other night while having some soup at Chet’s Place, Brad comes by my table with a look in his eye and says “Prolly this week…”.

Jack then turns to me, “You ready?” more of a statement then a question. I think a moment, and utter a low “yeh”.

NOAA says snow and cold, some of it single digit, for the foreseeable future.

Work last nite and tonite bartending for people enjoying themselves and each at their holiday banquets. Pay some bills tomorrow. Stock up on food and supplies monday. Maybe cook some to put in the freezer.

Then ski.

Just ski.

Oak Sentinel

At the right time of year, it’s almost impossible to not notice the abundance of acorns in places near the top of Elk Mountain.

On a walk several years ago, I gathered, and planted a few in the side yard.

Now, this tree and a few of it’s kin planted nearby, conspicuous seasonal sentinels, splash the last glimpses of color as autumn fades, nods toward winter.