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Outdoors

Hunkered In

Couch surfing with the Snowshoe Preacher

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lately, ever since I fractured my tailbone for the fourth and—quite possibly—most excruciating time, I’ve relegated myself to being a “fair weather” snow sports enthusiast.

It’s not that I’ve gone completely wussy. But gone are the halcyon days of yore when I didn’t think twice about spending an entire winter shacked up with five other dudes in a two-bedroom cabin near Mt. Baker just to mob mad freshies all over the powder-glazed ridge snouts and layer cake butte tops.

Certainly, you can still count on me to play “ski bum” at various points throughout the rest of this winter. But by and large, you’ll just as likely find me waiting out the latest incoming storm cycle at some clean, well-sheltered place in the flatlands as you will cruising around anywhere above tree line.

Thanks to doctor’s orders, I’ve been forced to turn temporarily townie.  

But I’m still a lurker at heart. It’s not like I’m yucking it up at the country club in the Izod with pleated khakis or anything. I’m still bucking brush and keeping my shoes muddy hoof-hopping down the trails. There’s plenty of moss in my pockets. I keep my nose to the streets. 

I also do plenty of couch surfing. And I’ve taken up hitting the low-elevation snowshoe routes with a elderly gentleman nearly half my weight and twice my age—a man who I have taken to calling Snowshoe Preacher.

Snowshoe Preacher understands why I enjoy surfing on my couch. But he sure as hell isn’t about to let me keep couch surfing too much. 

“You ain’t gettin’ any younger,” Snowshoe preacher always makes sure to snap. “Your couch is a fine one. That’s a fact. But you can’t let your furniture get the best of ya. And besides, I’m way more interesting to hang with than your cushions, aren’t I?” 

Snowshoe Preacher is not afraid. Snowshoe Preacher shows up here willy-nilly, whenever he feels inspired to do so and, most often, that means he shows up completely unannounced. Of course, it does become a little unnerving at times. But I never complain. Hell, at least he goes out of his way just to keep me on my toes!

Like clockwork, whenever Snowshoe Preacher happens to mosey in anytime before early afternoon, he makes sure to load me into his gleaming mint ‘89 Buick and whisks me away as deep into the hills as his rear-wheel drive will feasibly take us. 

Snowshoe Preacher drives pretty fast up the windy mountain roads. He also makes sure we have enough time to work up what he likes to call “a decent, righteous sweat.”

Even through knee-deep powder, Snowshoe Preacher maintains a brisk clip. Even when I shoe my socks off, that dude keeps a pole-length ahead of me.

Snowshoe Preacher has suffered a litany of heart problems throughout his golden years. But you’d never know it unless he told you.  

“I don’t know how this old ticker of mine would keep on ticking without it,” he confesses. But the main thing is, snow-shoeing keeps me outside. And whenever I’m outside it makes me feel young. And when you’re a living fossil like me, there’s no better feeling than that.”

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