Photo by Colton Stiffler

From the Editor: The Dawn of Winter

Heavy wet snowflakes drop from the sky, making their wayward descent to the ground. Some catch on the needles of the ocher larch and evergreen spruce and pines. They accumulate where they land, fluffy blankets cloaking all that lies beneath — all season long if we’re lucky.

I grew up nestled in a bend of cottonwood trees on the banks of a little creek west of Bozeman, Montana. My youth was defined by ice skating the flooded creek, sledding perilous dives down the hill near my home, and endlessly layering the various accoutrements of cold climes — wool socks, long johns, Carhartt bibs — to comfortably challenge the scope of winter adventuring with digits intact. I share this in order to explain my bias: I hope we get a good Rocky Mountain winter.

Certainly, this yearning for snow is tied to an innate love for this place I call home. Snow — and the winter season at large — is a key element of the Rocky Mountains. Here, we experience over one-hundred-degree temperature swings, drought and heavy snow, as well as four distinct seasons. The region is bound by extremes. Any outdoor activity planned between September and May comes with the appendage, “weather permitting.” Experiencing the wintertide calls upon our primal instinct to survive and, within that state, to thrive. In this issue, you’ll catch a glimpse of just a few ways people weather the winter, be it floating across frozen solitude in an ice boat, seeking the perfect powder run, or tossing flies for trout.

While you might relish the season by immersing yourself in the elements, you might also enjoy winter’s opportunity for comfort and rest, accepting the frigid air’s invitation to indulge in a hot drink as you sit by a blazing stove. Perhaps you’ll take pleasure in one of the book titles mentioned herein, or maybe a window of opportunity will find you journeying to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the Hootenanny; Pinedale, Wyoming for a scheduled visit to the Museum of the Mountain Man; or Great Falls, Montana for a night of camaraderie at the fabled Sip ’n Dip Lounge — weather permitting. Any of these indulgences should prove well worth the effort required for snow shovels and bundled layers.

The snowflakes have ceased their cascade upon my window, though the clouds remain heavy: More snow will come. For now, I’ll sit by the fire, hold my daughter close, and wait for the adventures to come.

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