Andrew Terrill

The outdoor diary of a writer, photographer, and wilderness wanderer

On Foot Every Day


frosted grass trees and crag


FOR ME, GETTING out on foot into nature is a priority. I’m certain that I could manage just fine if I didn’t have frequent contact with wild places, but I’m profoundly glad that I don’t have to test this theory to find out if it’s true!

I’ve made it a priority because nature grounds me. It provides balance, perspective, and inspiration. It keeps me moving forward. I swear it keeps me young. A day without the earth beneath my feet is a day only half lived.

By choice (and good fortune) I live with open space mere steps from my front door, and I try to make the most of this. Life with its responsibilities could easily limit how often I go, and to a degree it does. Instead of going every day all day (and all night) I try to strike a balance. But ‘every day’ still remains a goal, and this year – so far – I’ve managed to achieve it.

One of many benefits from daily contact with nature is being keyed into change. Some of the changes are subtle, such as the slow thawing of a massive snowdrift, or the evolving habits of a herd of deer, and some are dramatic: like the daily changes in weather. I shared several photos in my previous blog post that show winter’s ebb and flow, and I want to do the same again with this blog because recent changes have been striking. Over the last ten days winter has provided ample reward for stepping outside – as I hope these photos show!

Since first discovering mountains for myself three and half decades ago I’ve dreamt of spending an entire winter holed up in some remote mountain cabin. I picture myself watching snow deepen week by week. At one time, I lamented that winter didn’t do that here in my adopted home in Colorado’s Front Range, where instead of lasting for months it comes and goes daily. But such feelings of disappointment have long gone, disregarded as ‘missing the point’, for not appreciating everything I now have. (Home here definitely isn’t suburban London!) I now  appreciate the winters I do have specifically because they come and go. If snow were to build up day after day it would be thrilling, but I’m not certain it would be as interesting or as varied. In the past two weeks I’ve walked through fog and freezing drizzle, through a fantasy-realm of hoar frost and rime ice, through warm sunshine and beneath blue skies, and through heavy falling snow. The variety has been truly spectacular.

I still dream of that remote winter cabin, and maybe one day the dream will come true. But for now I’ll very happily take what I’ve got! It makes stepping outside and heading uphill every single day a sheer pleasure.

golden cliffs and frosted plants
Fog, freezing drizzle, and frost on January 19.
frosted grass
Decorated and edged in ice, the entire landscape became a work of art.
frost on twigs north table mountain
Hoar frost growing in the damp, below-freezing weather.
frost on trees and shrubs beneath cliff face
Fine drizzle meant that there was no one else about, and fog created an intimate sense of connection. It was magical environment to slowly wander through.
frost beneath golden cliffs
The next day, with sunlight blazing, the magic continued…
frosted trees
Frosted trees on January 20.
frost on tumbleweed
In warm sunlight, the frost was thawing and falling as I watched.
frost on mountain mahogany colorado front range
Morning fog rolling away fast.
mountain slope and frost golden colorado
Earlier, the entire landscape was coated in ice. By noon, it remained only where it had built up thickest. The contrast between the icy spots and the landscape’s revealed colours was captivating.
frosted hillside on north table mountain
Rime ice remained thick in locations that sunlight hadn’t yet reached.
foothills above golden colorado
A few days later, on January 23, sunlight had altered the landscape into a place of two halves and two seasons – winter and spring.
clear creek canyon
A view up Clear Creek Canyon above Golden, Colorado. The scene may look wintry, but I was walking in shorts and a t-shirt, basking in January warmth.
juniper on rock
A hardy juniper perched in a sunny spot with a view!
unbroken trail
January 24, and winter returned. An unbroken trail beckoned… as always.
mule deer in snow
Mule deer were going about the business, unaware of a stealthy photographer lurking nearby!
delicate snowdrift
‘Wind-art snow’, delicately sculpted.
frozen waterfall golden colorado
Another round of snow blew through on January 27, following on from two days of warmth. The cold-warm-cold-warm freeze-thaw cycle had formed an impressive icefall on a hill known to most visitors as dry and desert-like.
waterfall ice north table mountain golden colorado
The icy treasures of winter.
snow and bleak sky
A bleak scene, almost as though it were winter. But a long weekend of spring-like warmth and wall-to-wall sunshine lay right ahead! 


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