One of the keys to efficient hiking in more arduous winter conditions is energy preservation and I’ve found that you can tell if a group is working well together when everyone places their boots in the footsteps of the hiker in front of them, packing the snow a bit better for the next hiker in line. You can observe this process in its purest form when breaking trail in snowshoes or kicking steps up a steep slope. There’s an aesthetic simplicity to it that I find appealing.
The one year anniversary of my father’s death is coming up in a few weeks and I have been thinking about him again when I have been hiking in the mountains. I feel close to him, especially above-treeline, surrounded by a sea of white snow and the high peaks. Like me, my Dad loved the mountains and their snow-covered majesty. He loved basking in the sun on an alpine mountain top and gazing at the high peaks surrounding him. I think those moments provided him with a deep sense of well being and peace.
When I reflect on my father’s memory, I think about the ways in which he shaped my life. Despite my father’s many accomplishments and honors, a successful marriage and family, he led a very simple life based on a foundation of hard work and helping others. While we differ on the methods we’ve employed, I feel those two values have been the guideposts of my life as well. Where he led, I followed, in his footsteps.