My narrow skis glide beneath the surface of untouched snow, the drifts ahead gaining in density as frigid gusts of wind sting my face. Recalling the detail, I’ve nearly counted the number of strides needed to reach this anticipated and familiar view; a mountain range and an emptied reservoir basin with only a small vein of water cradled in its lowest Valley. Perhaps more beautiful than the summer reservoir, is this hidden landscape below, only revealing itself when it's least likely to be seen. I press into the discomfort of the wind, my skis finding their path now on top of hardened snowdrifts. I crest the horizon, breaking into the open and I'm rewarded; not by the view I’ve come here for, but eclipsed by an unexpected beauty that has stolen my eye without relent.
Like a masterpiece on display, a wind-sculpted snowdrift stands majestically as if the presentation was by design. Its smooth lines and swirling patterns dance around narrow protrusions that appear quite fragile but hold fast even amidst these conditions. Standing before its beauty feels like an honor, yet the blistering wind howls warnings to find shelter in the nearby forest. It hurts to stand here, but I can’t move away because my eye is lost in the patterns and swirls across this intricately carved design. I contemplate the time it’s taken and the conditions it endured to become this stunning art piece within nature. Its beauty, not in the layers that have been stripped away, but in the unyielding layers beneath the surface and the way they reveal themselves over time. Stubborn, yet an ever-changing masterpiece.