A Winter Romance in the Empty Sawtooths
By Rachel Gattuso
Our snowmobiles sliced through tall, blackened trees, casting high-pitched whines into the sparsely populated terrain.
We followed the path’s endless S-curves as they opened before us. The trees seemed stripped of significant limbs, barren and lifeless. But in the pure white, the black trees racing by were hypnotic. The four of us, who were on the tail end of a day spent snowmobiling in Stanley, had driven into the stoic remains of a wildfire. Yet as we zipped through the quiet folds of the countryside, these charred trees seemed whitewashed, given a new look by the snow. The ghost pines stretched to the sky, painting an eerie picture.
If I could show you a picture of this backwoods scene, surely you would be reminded of how, even in large-scale destruction, there is beauty and new life. But that day I brought my phone instead of a regular camera. Such an incredible piece of technology will cut down the number of gadgets I carry, I reasoned. Unfortunately, I discovered that the fancy thing turns off sporadically in extreme temperatures. The lanky trees in their grim splendor, my favorite image of the day, will have to live in my memories.
I should back up about four years. The first time I drank in the power of the Stanley Basin, I had just emerged from a room at the Mountain Village Resort with camera in hand. The craggy peaks of the Sawtooth Range were drenched in blinding white snow and crowned with a bluebird sky. It was a postcard come to brisk (I could see my breath) life, and it took a minute before I remembered to snap a shot. For a few moments, as the Sawtooths loomed in front of me, I was powerless to look away. They consumed me wholly, marched right into my world and planted a bold flag.