Romanian Grace

The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon. -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

17 December, 2007

wallwoe: part one

So there's the aforementioned, mighty blue Volvo (heretofore known as "wallwoe" due to its German pronunciation).  Luke (ze German) and I decided that that was a good place to stop.  That was due largely to the fact that we had come to a point in the snow's depth from whence we could neither continue forward nor return down the road we had come up, at least without serious work, which could wait until later, of course.  We had some hiking to do.

Luke ze German is brilliant and a great hiking partner.  I enjoyed imparting to him some of the wisdom I have accumulated from doing stupid things in the woods over the years (usually with my friend, Adam).  So, the first lesson had to do with layering.  Some people call this obsessing, but I call it "giving yourself options."  It was like this.  Down at the bottom of the mountain it was a balmy 28-30 degrees or so, and once we started walking in the deep snow with our snowshoes, we warmed up pretty fast.  I was wearing a t-shirt, a lightweight long sleeve, and a mid-weight fleece.  I was also wearing heavy mittens and a toboggan.  I also had a lightweight windbreaker in my small pack, along with a down jacket.  Luke was sporting a ski jacket and a fleece.  He had no pack.  

I should say that I am a comfort-idolator.  I love comfort.  That's why only the uAg can get me out of bed on those cold mornings here.  It just feels too good otherwise (there is this great sermon that reminds me of called The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, by Thomas Chalmers, a puritan).  Anyway, I definitely don't like being hot while I am hiking, if avoidable, and I don't really really like being cold, though it is better than being hot.  It is for people like me that the outdoor clothing companies make all their stuff and charge so much for it becase it is grams lighter than the other stuff.  Lighter pack, lighter shirts, lighter underwear, lighter jackets... they have to be lighter because guys who want options have to carry one of each.

Anyway, I knew Luke got it when he said, "It's all about options."  Fast learner.  

I have decided that snowshoeing is the most fun I can possibly have in the snow.  I have done all the usual stuff: sledding, skiing, even tried a little snowboarding, as well as stupid stuff like jumping out of a jacuzzi and rolling around or lying in the snow as long as I could stand it, then jumping painfully back into the hot water (what was that all about?).  Anyway, I find that I only smile all the time while I am snowshoeing.  My face starts to get tired from the smiling.  So that has been a pleasant discovery.  We found ourselves quickly in knee deep snow, and the shoes were great, keeping us from sinking much more than 6 inches or so.  It still wasn't easy, but better than the alternative.  We were walking where there was no evidence that man had ever gone before (except for the frequent bright blue blazes painted on trees), and we chatting along the way about Eldridge's book, Wild At Heart, which he is currently reading.  I guess we were being very "manly" by his definition, or whatever.  

We made it to Cabana Curmatura, a cabin built in the 20's by Germans, by a little after noon. We stopped in for some hot cocoa and to have a place to enjoy our various foods.  I brought my standard favorite Snickers and some peanut butter to spread on it.  he brought some German white chocolate.  This cabin is one of my favorite getaway spots I have ever been.  We were greeted as we approached by two Saint Bernards, who came up higher than my waist. Then there were these two donkey's with gnarled hooves blocking the door.  On a clear day you can see the next mountain range as you look off the cabin's deck, and you can look behind you and see the Piatra Crailui (King's Stone) looming at about 7,000 feet elevation.  There is no electricity or running water, though there is a spring nearby.  They use wood, and lots of it, to keep the place warm for their guests.  The "they" is a young couple who live up there to welcome the guests and provide room and board (for next to nothing).  But we just stayed for a break today.  Our destination was Piatra Mica (Little Stone), and we were burning daylight.

Oh, it is worth noting that I had left my headlamp (flashlight) up there when I spent the night last May.  Once I realized it was gone I wrote it off as gone for good and started looking for a new one.  Anyway, I caught the notion to go ahead and ask, just in case they have a lost and found or something.  I went up there and explained that I didn't think there was any chance they would know what I was talking about but that I left my flashlight... "What kind of flashlight?" the man asked?  "One for your head."  "Like this?" he asked.  He was holding up my headlamp, and I was thrilled.  A good thing, too, because we wound up needing it.
I will have to finish the story later.  Some of my readers are falling asleep.


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