Solo Trip, 1988

Spruce Knob, WV

3-13 to 3-17-88

It’s snowing! Such a gentle sound the snow makes as it lands on the trees, ground, and my tent. Snow is better than rain because it falls off. As I walk, the snow is falling harder, and the trails are slowly disappearing from view. The water in the streams is flowing freely, but it looks like it is desperately trying to get comfortable in one place.

Night is approaching and I don’t know how much snow will have accumulated by morning. Small piles form on my tent-fly, then slowly fall off the side after becoming too heavy.


I am witness to a landscape in black and white, brilliant pines and hemlocks sagging under the weight of the snow, and the never ending flow of water. The water itself is clear, but contrasted against the snowy banks, the stream is liquid blackness in perpetual motion.

Large clumps of snow fall into the blackness and are slowly consumed by it — merging, changing, and moving on.

Walking, mine are the only footprints in the snow. In ten minutes time, even they will fade into the background. Individual flakes of snow are large enough to display their crystal pattern. It’s more like fluff than snow — it’s full of air. I scoop up a handful to eat, but it melts completely before reaching my mouth.


What were only tiny creeks in the fall are roaring waterways now in the spring. As the water falls from towering rocks to the pools below, icicles form — giving the rocks fangs that seek to pierce the ground underneath them.

Visibility has become all but non-existent. The air is now as white as the ground. I can see the path in front of me, but the blazes are now invisible. With my motion and the wind, the snow is being hurled at me, giving the illusion that I am moving at incredible speeds. I don’t know if it will let up by tomorrow.

Should I camp here, or press on as far as I can before night fall? I think that at the very least, I should cross that large field I know lies ahead, but as I head uphill, I run out of water… You IDIOT!! why are you having this trouble in the FIRST place? SNOW!!!

But I am running real low on fuel. I have barely enough for dinner and breakfast and snow takes more energy to melt… Have dinner here by the stream for lunch, keep my bottle inside tonight, and cross the field before all cairns are obliterated from view.


Too late. My bottle is already frozen solid, and the top is sealed closed. I tried to build a fire to cook on to save fuel, but I was unsuccessful. The smoke fell flat to the ground, forming a dense, moving fog — that meant that more low pressure weather was moving in. Looking at the sky through occasional breaks in the snow showed north westerly winds. Optimistically, those 2 signs together meant more snow, rather than rain.

Copyright (C), 1998, by Ashley Guberman

Speak Your Mind