Snowshoeing at Halibut Point

Poles again in hand, but this time with boots buckled securely in snowshoes, I scrape across the narrow road from the parking lot of Halibut Point State Park.   There are only two other cars in the lot; no one is in sight.  The air today is damp, the morning’s thick blanket of fog seems to have spread itself onto the very snow.  The trees’ bare limbs are coated with a thin layer of white that muffles the sound of my steps, giving the wooded trail’s silence a richness I can taste in the air around me.

The trail is well-defined— boot prints, ski tracks, and dog tracks pack the snow.  The edges of the trail are dotted with bunny paw prints that veer off into the brush.  I keep to the edges, too, not quite bunny-like, my snowshoes sinking into the powdery white fluff of yesterday’s snowfall.  I reach a fork and choose the trail on the right.

I move along the edge of the quarry, digging the toes of my snowshoes into the patches of ice beneath some of the snow on the trail.  I can hear the ocean ahead of me.  The roar of the waves mixes with the rustle of the wind in the branches of the trees.  I decide to add my own soundtrack to it and stop to tuck my ear buds under my headband.  Alexi Murdock’s smooth voice and evocative lyrics turn my hike into my very own movie.  He sings about  love and life, loss and change.  I keep the volume low so that I can hear my music and nature’s together.  As I walk upon the snow,  acutely aware of my alone-ness, the feeling of being part of something so much bigger than I am forces me to recognize my smallness, my  insignificance.   That recognition floods me with a sense of relief.  I embrace this feeling of smallness, of letting myself off the responsibility hook for a little while.

I follow the Bay View Trail downhill, where much of the gravel beneath the snow is exposed.  I stay to the side again to avoid the scraping sound of the crampons on my shoes.  Turning the corner, the rocky shore is exposed.  I stop.  The sky is layered with gray clouds that roll ahead of me with surprising speed.  To my left, the long, low, flat brown rocks at the edge of the sea are covered in frozen salt spray.  When salt water freezes like that, it looks like dusty white cotton candy— there is a softness to the look of it, as if when touched, it would crumble in my fingers.  The water is a steely gray-blue, dark and rich.  The horizon reflects the water, deep gray-blue melding up to touch the clouds.  I breathe deeply, feeling the cold air on my cheeks, the wind on my face.  I continue along the path, counting my blessings.  This day, this park, the solitude and beauty, all here, minutes from my house, available any time I care to come.

I like the Bay View Trail so much that I take the loop again.  I go straight at the end of the trail, heading toward the visitor center.  I see a little side trail called The Back 40 Loop and take it way around the back of the park.  The trees lean down toward the earth and the pathway bears less wear; I take that loop twice, too.  I pass the visitor center, and decide to go through the park one more time.  I take a different trail, short and a little bit steep, to an ocean overlook.  At the top, I stare out at the stark landscape.  The waves pound the rocks beneath me; the silence of the woods gone.  The sea goes on forever.  The air smells of salt and snow.  Tiny flakes begin to fall and I could stand right here until darkness falls, breathing, listening, being.

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2 Comments on “Snowshoeing at Halibut Point”

  1. Craig Says:

    Lots more snow on the way. Maybe we can venture out together sometime on the fresh foot and a half of the white stuff.

  2. I would love that! Can”t wait to show you the Bay View Trail!

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