Silence of the snowy forest

Surrounded by the winter landscape

Surrounded by the winter landscape

In the snowy winter forests of the Sierra there is a sense of quiet and peace. Sound is absorbed and muffled by the snow. I have often stood on a snowy overlook and soaked in this silence and peace. The silence is punctuated only by the call of a bird in the distance or the quiet chirping nearby of juncos or other birds prospecting in the bark of trees for insects.

One afternoon two of us skied far up a mountainside from Sequoia Park’s Lodgepole parking lot to watch the evening light. We traveled much of the return journey in the dark, silent woods. As we entered the floor of a side valley, somewhere behind us the clear, piercing call of a large bird occasionally broke the silence.  It was haunting.

For several winters I worked at a small lodge and ski touring center between Sequoia and Kings Canyon Parks. When the moon was bright, we sometimes went out to ski in the moonlight. Light from the moon sparkled at our feet from uncounted crystals of hoarfrost on the snow. We would stop and savor the moonlit snow-covered lake and the peaceful silence.

The peaceful silence of the snowy mountains gives me room to think about our big world and universe–so huge and all-encompassing, and me being part of it at the very deepest level. I’m reminded that every one of us on this earth (and now in the Space Station) is part of this also.

As the angels in the Christmas story said: Peace on earth and good will to all.


About David McCoard

After earning my MS in geology I've done various things including managing the ski touring program at a small lodge in the Sierra. In 2010 I retired from Contra Costa College in California. I've always been fascinated by the mountains and nature and have spent countless days hiking, backpacking, climbing and skiing in the Sierra. The spiritual insights I've learned there have set the course for my life. Now I have time to share them and strike up a conversation.
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