Clearing the Trail

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Today we are getting wet, heavy, tree-bending snow. Sipping my coffee and watching the pines bend while the woods dress their naked limbs in drapes of white velvet, I thought back to years ago, when I would wake up and this type of snow meant one thing – snowmobiling season.

Excitedly, we would rush through breakfast, suit up in our long-johns, boots, scarfs and snowmobile suits. Adventures of flying through the fields and to destinations occupied my mind.  I couldn’t wait to rev up my machine and ZOOM ZOOM!  Racing outside I stop dead in my tracks when I see my Dad trudging from the garage with a gas can, axe, chainsaw and shovels in hand. He loaded them up in the dogsled he already had hitched to his snowmobile. I groaned. I knew today would not be the day for fast-paced trail adventures. Today, we had to clear the trail.

Clearing the TrailOnce we were packed up, we zoomed across the fields, white powder floated up behind us,  and swirled around us in a frosty frenzy. My brother and I raced each other for pole position – but that is where our need for speed ended as we crept to the edge of the field and entered the deep canopy of the woods. Then the work commenced. The trees bowed down like a maze of marshmallow covered tunnels. I often got confused as to where we were, grateful my Dad was there – he knew this trail like the back of his hand, despite the feeling of having stepped through a wardrobe into a foreign snow encrusted Narnia. Downed tree after downed tree, we would work, clearing the way. Saws buzzing and echoing into the valley, I felt like we might as well be out in the Alaskan Tundra.  Mile after tedious mile, we cleared our section of the trail, and eventually run into another group of snowmobilers who had cleared the trails from their houses. Seeing the other group coming in our direction made my heart skip. We had made it! The work is done! Exhausted, we headed back home in the moonlight.
My friends would tease me – why work so hard to play? I knew that once we had worked hard to clear the trail, we reaped the rewards of a fun filled winter. Once the trail was clear, the real fun begins. It made all the hard work and labor worth while. Not only were we able to get out from the farm, but now our friends were able to get to us. Our fields buzzed with friends and neighbors meeting up, racing the fields, building bonfires to warm our hands, and enjoy the sparkling winter sun. Snow-shoers flopped by with their dogs, and cross country skiers skated by on our smooth, freshly dragged trails. The day or two of breaking through the trails with chainsaws and axes were a long distant memory.  The fun was so infectious, that sure enough, the next time we had a tree-bending snow, I would forget all about the fact we had to clear the trails all over again.  I did notice, the more frequently we got heavy snow, the less we had to clear the trail the next time.

Had we decided to skip the work to get to the prize of riding the trails, we would have gotten snarled and caught up along the way. Our snowmobiles would have gotten stuck and damaged, or worse, riders could have been injured.   An inexperienced rider would surely have gotten lost trying to distinguish where the trail began and where it ended had we not cleared the way.

As the fat, fluffy flakes lazily plop onto the tree branches outside my window, I think about all the trails in my life I need to clear.  Right now, looking at my goals is like looking at them through the gnarled up, twisted branches weighed down by tree-bending snow.  I sometimes feel lost in the white out, disoriented as to where I am, and not sure I can find my way.   The terrain looks foreign to me.

I think about the dog-sled full of tools I have – experience, knowledge, intuition, wit, charisma .. amongst others.  I think about the trail-masters I have in my life -the people who have been on the trail before, who know how to navigate it – whether its smooth sailing, or blocked with twisted obstacles and challenges.  People who can show me how to use my tools and resources to cut down the obstacles, and how to mark the trail so others can join me.  I think about how amazing it feels once the work is done, and how that hard work resulted in fun, enjoyment and community.   I start to get excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work clearing, because clearing is the first step towards the reward.

Tell me, what trails do you need to clear to get to where you want to go?

Until then – Hit the Heights!
Priscilla Hansen, Natural Leadership & Business Guide


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