Molly and I Go Skiing

For Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog and me, bliss is snow. Not a lot more to say beyond that. I know the downfalls (ha ha) of snow, but the wonder of it? When I lived in California — and it snowed in the mountains 35 miles away — I jonesd like a junky to get to it. Sometimes I got there… After a while I lived there.

I love everything about snow. The cold, the magic transformation of the world, the SMELL of snow is the most beautiful thing. I don’t mind the “inconvenience.” It’s a small price to pay for bliss…

ANY-hoo, here’s a story about snow bliss…

Molly and I Go Skiing

“The first fall of snow is not only an event, but it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, then where is it to be found?” J.B. Priestley

Many of my dogs have been snow dogs — mostly Siberian huskies, but Molly was an Australian Shepherd/Malamute mix. She was my first ”snow dog,” and she was very special. I think many dog owners have experienced life with an extraordinary dog, and Molly was just such a one.


One March afternoon in 2000 I was at work and heard the news that more than 20 inches of snow had fallen in the Laguna Mountains and was expected to continue — at a slower rate — all night.

I wanted to ski. I found, to my great surprise, that there was a place in San Diego where I could rent X-country skis. I called and said, “I need skis, boots and poles, whatever, for a woman 5’2” 160 pounds, 7.5 shoes. Can I come and get them this afternoon?”

“Yeah, sure. You know where we are?”

“Not really.” He gave me directions. I made my plans known to my bosses (who were also colleagues) that I would not be at school/work the next day, and that I would call in sick. I explained that I was going skiing with my dog. There in San Diego County I was going to have a ”snow day.”

“Isn’t that dangerous? To ski alone like that in the back-country?”

A common question in my life. I knew people — friends — who did really dangerous things. I was just going to the nearby mountains to X-country ski with my best friend who happened to be a dog. In the Laguna Mountains there was zero chance of an avalanche. There really was NOTHING dangerous about it unless I fell and broke something. I believed (on some level) that Molly was perfectly capable of rescuing me and driving home.

I walked in the shop and the guy behind the counter — the owner — looked up and said, ”5’2” 160?”


“Here you go. Try on the boots.”

The boots were fine.

I was on fire with excitement. I was rapturous. I had not X-country skied in YEARS, maybe a DECADE. I couldn’t wait. I was going skiing. Snow!!!! The next morning Molly and I were on the road loud music blasting out of the CD player in my truck.

I planned to park at the Meadows Information Station on the Sunrise Highway. I hoped the road wasn’t closed. I didn’t have chains. I figured if the road were closed I’d park where I could and just ski up the road with my dog on a leash, but on that holy day, we got lucky. Waaa—HOOO!

I had no plan, no route. I was just going to ski. I knew the snow would be great. Some of the best X-country skiing in my life was in Southern California. It was receptive to skis, easy to break trail, easy to turn, and fast on hills.

I buckled on Molly’s pack so she could carry our water and granola bars, and we were off across the meadow and then down, down to Laguna Pond.

About 50 feet above Laguna Pond the season changed to spring. The warmer air, coming from the ocean laden with water, was here soft mist bending to the cool surface of the pond on its way to higher, colder elevations where it would turn to snow. In those mountains, the Lagunas, the seasons are often inches from each other. I have stood on a trail on the northeast side of the Lagunas, over the desert, arms outstretched, one hand in a winter storm and the other in sunshine, the climate created by the rain shadow.

I turned and we skied back up to winter then down again to spring, and up and then, having enjoyed the phenomenon enough, I returned to winter to stay. There we climbed hills and skied down, and the snow fell. On the top of one hill above the meadow, Molly jumped up and landed on her back. She rolled around, making angels in the deep snow. I stepped out of my skis and got down beside her to made an angel of my own. When I finished, I looked over at my blissful, wet, snowy dog and saw her…


17 thoughts on “Molly and I Go Skiing

  1. It’s so true, isn’t it? I once saw a dog smile. Yours however, seems exceptional. A joy to have and spend time with. I love the snow too! I really do!

      • It is that way with a special “friend” animal or human, in my mind it doesn’t matter, they are the same, so dear and loved on both sides. Something special that can’t be replaced. Simply not possible. I’m delighted you had Molly. She helped make the hard times endurable.

  2. I have been living for 50 years in Switzerland and I hated the snow up to the last couple of years. I no longer have to do snow, only if I want to, which means watch it from the window or the garden and take photos. I cannot ski, never felt the impulse to learn. Of course Mr. Swiss can ski, even managed an accident as a boy with a confrontation with a tree. Otherwise have fun, but no thanks.

    • I edited this story (it’s part of the flawed hiking book) but the part I cut talks about how Molly didn’t have a tail and she literally SMILED instead of trying to wag what she was born without. Her nickname was “Smiler.” Dogs like to make snow angels. All my snow-loving dogs have done it spontaneously. BUT I can’t make one when I’m out with Dusty because he was taught to help me up if I fall so he just FREAKS out and tromps all over the snow angel.

  3. Australian Shepherd smile. Actually, they grin. Bishop loved snow too. Until he got too old, he would go outside and sleep in the snow and let the smaller dogs sleep on top of him. Watching Bishop in snow was a very special treat. I haven’t been able to publish his pictures since he died. I just can’t. Not yet.

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