This past winter in Northern Arizona has had epic snowfall. I believe the most snow in something like one hundred years at the local ski resort. I found a little place called The Nordic Center that has trails for skiing and snowshoeing, as well as simple cabins and yurts that you can rent. It was time for a simple weekend, mountain man style.

I get a cabin, complete with a small table, a mattress, and a wood stove. No electricity, no outlets, no bedding. I gather wood to start a fire, roll out my sleeping bag, and prep my camp dishes to make a meal. I keep the beer outside, hoping it won’t freeze.

I rent some cross country ski’s, and head out onto the trails. It doesn’t take me long to get the hang of it, and after only a couple of falls, I’m working up a sweat as I move through the forest.

The snow starts to fall in this magical wooded kingdom.

I switch gears and throw on some new winter boots and hike some of the steeper trails, climbing the mountain. The snowfall is getting deeper as the afternoon turns into evening. It’s so quiet that my thoughts seem to disturb the silence.

After a day on the trails, I head back to the cabin for the night. The beer isn’t quite frozen, but the cabin itself is freezing. I work on getting a fire going in the wood stove, then as my skin starts to warm, I think about preparing a simple meal of warming up some beans.

My belly is full as the clouds race in and the snow really starts to come down. I read by lantern light as the night slowly ticks away. I’m awakened every few hours by the coldness, and stoke the fire.

Four a.m. comes and I start the laborious process of making coffee. I never realized just how hot a fire must be to make water boil.

I have my first cup of joe by the time the skies start to lighten, about 2 and a half hours later. It’s the best cup of coffee I’ve had. Satisfied after this and some granola for breakfast, I head back out onto the trails.

The new snow makes cross country skiing even better.

I can’t wait to return this summer and try the trails on a mountain bike. Maybe next winter I’ll try the yurt.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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