In our own backyard....'I'll come to thee by moonlight'
Moonlight, starlight, firelight - it's a magical combination when it comes to spending a Friday night with your sweetheart. I've had the date of the annual Moonlight Ski circled on our calendar for weeks, and since the night of February's full mo...
Moonlight, starlight, firelight - it's a magical combination when it comes to spending a Friday night with your sweetheart.
I've had the date of the annual Moonlight Ski circled on our calendar for weeks, and since the night of February's full moon fell on a Friday night this year, I knew it would be spectacular.
What I didn't know, however, was that the days leading up to the event would be balmy, climbing close to 50 degrees early last week. And then, as the temperature began to dip and the cold air collided with the warm, the entire area was blanketed in a heavy shroud of fog on Thursday.
By the time Friday dawned, the wind was whipping up such a gale that it nearly took my breath away. Already-stressed tree branches splintered and cracked under the onslaught, pine needles rained down like confetti and the roads and trails that were pools of melting snow just a few days earlier froze into sheets of ice that the wind polished to a treacherous glare.
Somehow, the idea of a moonlight ski that night slowly began to lose its luster. My husband and I decided to wait until later in the day to decide if we were going to go, but I couldn't quite let go of the visions of moonlight, starlight and firelight. ...
After dinner, we decided to bundle up in our long johns and give it a go. As soon as we got there and strapped on our skis, we fell under the spell of the night and forgot about the nasty weather. Miniature kerosene lanterns winked along the sides of the trail, and the dense pines shielded us from the raging wind that had buffeted our car all the way there.
We had only gone a few hundred feet down the trail before the kerosene lamps became fewer and further between, and there were stretches of trail that were shadowy and at times, pitch black.
Ken went on ahead of me, and as he plunged down a hill into the darkness, I shouted, "If you fall, just yell and I'll try not to hit you!"
The trail had been groomed, but the combination of the iciness and the dark made it feel as though I was absolutely flying. At one point, one of my skis must have run over a pine cone or something, and it felt as though someone had instantly put the brakes on. I was just about to fall flat on my face when I realized that if I fell, the packed snow was going to make for a mighty hard landing. Out of sheer will power I managed to stay on my feet and when I arrived at the bottom of the hill, Ken was standing in the flickering light of one of the kerosene lamps waiting for me.
Every once in a while, we would suddenly encounter another skier out of the darkness, and I grumbled about the fact that most were stopped right in the middle of the trail, making it impossible to see them until we were almost on top of them.
It took a while to get used to it, but by the time the trail turned down toward the lake, we were having a pretty good time.
We could see the bonfire and soft lights glowing from the warming shack across the bay where hot chocolate and cookies awaited skiers and snowshoers, and we headed down the small incline onto the lake. It was then that the wind hit us full bore, literally sucking the air right out of us. I felt more like I was parasailing than skiing as it tugged at my skis and poles and whipped ferociously at my parka.
We took off our skis and spent several minutes inside warming up and drinking hot chocolate before heading back out into the gale. As we got ready to cross back over the bay, the full moon slipped over the horizon and it was amazing. We stood transfixed by it for several minutes before hitting the trail once again.
We lost the moonlight when we wound through the woods, and I also lost sight of Ken as he disappeared into the darkness ahead of me. Several minutes passed, and I had just navigated a long, downhill incline when I was relieved to spot the shadowy figure waiting for me alongside the trail at the bottom.
"Boy, is it a relief to see you!" I cried. "It's really dark out here! Every time I go down a hill, I'm afraid I might hit somebody."
"Yeah, I know what you mean!" came the startlingly feminine voice from out of the night. "You'd better watch out - there's some guy on the trail ahead of us!"