Getting picked by a Christmas tree
Sometimes trying to simplify life doesn’t have quite the right stuff for making memories that last.I’m not sure when we made the decision to save the earth by putting up an artificial Christmas tree, but my family seems content with the ease of putting it up and taking it down.This year, second thoughts are creeping into my feeble mind as memories of getting our own tree refuse to die.It was the year my wife Linn and I moved to Glenwood in 1984. That Christmas we decided to find some quiet place to ski into and cut our own tree.Linn had her ancient wood skis, the kind you had to use pine tar as a base. I skied on my 200cm Fischer Europa 99 metal-edged skis with three pin bindings and Asolo Extreme ski boots. At that time, they were the best boot you could buy for back country use and telemarking.
We went with my friend Mike and his lovely lady friend up Four Mile past Sunlight Ski Area to the end of the plowed road. Our packs were stuffed with water bottles, emergency gear and lots of food. The axe was strapped onto the back of my pack.Snowshoes suit me better for backcountry travel these days. I like setting my own slow pace. But there is still something appealing to me about the arm swinging kick and glide of cross-country skiing.It is hard to describe the beauty of the mountains in the winter, and that day in particular.A recent storm had dumped fresh snow on the evergreen trees surrounding us. Their branches, weighed down with the heavy load, gave the appearance of wearing the white stuff like a coat.It was overcast and cold with the threat of more snow coming down any minute. That mattered not to us. We were on a quest for the perfect tree. Nothing could keep us from our mission.
There was no one else in sight, and the only sound that filled the air was our heavy breathing and occasional laughter. Words were rarely spoken.The cold didn’t bother us. We were having too much fun.We had skied about two miles from where we had started up the unplowed road before we seriously started looking for a good place to find our tree.There is no formula, no checklist and no way to know why the tree picks you.That’s right, for once you’re not the one in control. Sure, you have this picture in your mind of the tree you want. And you have a pretty good idea what size would fit into your living room.
You may even think you are a tree aficionado who knows exactly what you want: a sub-alpine or “Doug” fir, piñon pine, blue spruce or lodgepole. Whatever.The tree that picked us that day was indeed perfect.There’s not much else to say except try it yourself this year, and let the woods work their magic.With almost 30 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories with readers every other week.
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