Now our winter tour takes us to the evening, when the mountains can be just as beautiful as during the day, especially if the cougars, wolves, and coyotes aren’t hungry. I have two photographs that are very similar. The first, is the view from high atop one of the smaller mountains that overlooks the area where I stood for the second photograph, which was made in the valley.

Once again, I donned snowshoes and started the hike around and up the mountain. About an hour into the hike, I found a passageway between huge boulders, that practically went straight up. So straight, that I was crawling at times to get to the top. In the summer, this spot is so overgrown with rocks full of rattlesnakes, that it is completely impassible. It is another reason I love the snow– I can go places inaccessible during the summer. Though the valley was completely socked-in with fog, the higher elevations were pretty clear. By the time I hiked down hill, in almost total darkness, the fog had worked its way much closer to where I was standing.

In the nighttime photograph, the fog is much lower . For this photograph, I stood well below the base of the mountain from the first photo. To help orient you, the mountain is directly behind me. This field I am standing on is called “the 40” and has been in the family for years. It is about 40 acres in size, hence its name. When my (Great) Uncle was farming the area, many years ago, it was all alfalfa. I often helped for a few summers and have done everything but bale hay. At that time, my Uncle owned the largest round baler John Deere produced. Because of the potential risk of harm, he couldn’t bear letting those of us in the younger generation, run the machine. I was 14 or 15 then, but I could plow like there was no tomorrow!

My wife and I often snowshoed from the house to the 40 in the evenings, when the kids were in bed. This night, I left the camera at the house. Oops. We walked the perimeter and went back to the house to get the camera. She was a good sport, following me back for a few photos, but the sub-20 degree temperature with a slight breeze made short work out of any attempt to stay out longer. Fortunately, I was able to make the photograph, with Orion just coming into view, at the top of the frame.