It's hard to think when you're not used to it.
There’s a nice hike you can do in the Taos Ski Valley that starts near the Bavarian, an Alpine restaurant and lodge stationed near a ski lift terminal at around 10,500 feet elevation. I snapped a quick photo of it as my wife and I walked by it toward the trailhead. My plan was to look at this later if my legs grew tired and my resolution failed. It would be inspirational – something that would help me through any unexpected pain with its promise of nearby civilization. And German beer.
The hike is actually pretty short, maybe 2 miles from the Bavarian to Williams Lake. The terrain starts with small rocks which have likely claimed many an ankle, but then quickly becomes matted pine humus as you walk through tall, lichen draped lodge-pole (or maybe ponderosa?) pines. I don’t know pines, so I cannot say for sure. There are a few clearings early on that let you see for miles, and you hike near a small, literally babbling brook while the trail meanders through pine and aspen stands.
At one point, the stream crossed the trail, and just off to the left an exposed permafrost snowdrift melted slowly in the cool July 5th shade. Its waters bubbled out to join the larger stream heading downhill along the trail I had just walked.
There are really no adequate words to describe the beauty Williams Lake. You arrive and the vista opens onto bowl nestled among the peaks of surrounding mountains, all still showing patches of snow. In this bowl sits tiny Williams Lake, at about 11,000 ft. We lingered for a while, sitting in the grass in the mountain sunshine. As we started our descent, we found a couple to take our picture. Early on the way down, we met several hikers who were climbing in the opposite direction, and we gave them words of encouragement, “You’re almost there,” and they would smile back. Not long after, however, we had progressed too far back down to provide meaningful inspiration, so we just said hi to those we passed.
About an hour into the walk back down I realized that I was hungry, and that we still had a bit farther to go. There was a little panic at first, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to complete the hike. But then I remembered my picture of the Bavarian, so I dug out the camera and paged back through the more recent shots to the one I snapped earlier of the lodge. There it was, with its wide front porch, shallow pitched roof, and yellow coat of arms, a device with two lions surrounding the central shield. I knew I could make it, that I would be able to keep going, and that all would be well.
Soon we arrived back down at the trailhead, and then passed beyond back to the Bavarian. There was a waterfall coming down along the Kachina ski trail, but we bypassed it and headed for the lodge. We both ordered tall Spatens, and I decided to try Wiener Schnitzel from the menu. For some reason, I love saying Wiener Schnitzel – using my best (aka barely recognizable) pretend German accent and stressing the V sound of the leading W, as in, “Ve haff vays of making ze Viener Schnitzel talk.”
When the plate arrived, I was a bit surprised, since I had always thought Wiener Schnitzel was some sort of sausage. The Schnitzel was a thin cutlet of pork, breaded in panko, and fried. It sat on a rustic potato mash, and was served with fields greens and lemon. I let my initial surprise fade, and chalked it all up to simply being an idiot who never bothered to dig deeper into the mystery that surrounded Wiener Schnitzel. Not a sausage dish, but breaded and fried pork instead. I never knew, but after the strenuous morning jaunt, it was exactly the right thing at the right time. That little unexpected pleasure, on top of the rest of the day, made it clear to me that civilization hadn’t completely vanished, or run amok while we were walking in the woods.
I spend much of my time trying to understand people, and why some of us are such freaks. OK why you are the freaks.
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