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Butch’s Buddy, Sherpas, the Beast and Walter

I live in the mountains. Not in the high mountains or really snowy mountains, but it is the mountains. Most days it is quite beautiful here. Some days it is a pain in the (construction language). This weekend are some of those days.

If you would look at a topographical map you would see a 7000′ contour line across exactly where our house is located.

If you have never looked at a topographical map and don’t know what a contour line is, you are most likely younger than I am and your school system has failed you. Simply put, my house is 7000′ above sea level.

Hey, I just thought of something. Scientists tell us the sea level is rising. My house might be slightly less than 7000′ above sea level. For those of you using the metric system my house is 2133.6 meters above sea level. To me 7000′ sounds higher than 2133.6 meters so, I am using 7000′ from now on.

As a kid, I wanted to live in the mountains. I saw some movie starring Butch Cassidy’s buddy and I was hooked. I guess I am living my dream. I have always admired the people of the high mountains. Those are some tough people, especially the Sherpa's of the Himalayas.

I’m not comparing my life to that of a Sherpa, but for a couple days every couple years, I live a life that makes me feel like a Sherpa. (Not a very good one.)

The very first weekend, after Elaine and I moved to our mountain home it snowed 60″. It was one of the snow storms I dreamed of as a kid. Unfortunately, I am now an adult. Reality slapped me in the face. Deep snow equals hard work.

Call me weird but I like physical work, a trait I didn’t pass to my offspring. Sweating and my offspring are not compatible. I think they follow Elaine for that. (I might be drifting off the topic here.)

Two years ago, on April 16, 2013 we received a pretty substantial snow storm at our house. Someone (most likely Ivy) posted a photo of me on the internet carrying a hay bale through the snow. That snow storm left us with 3′ snow drifts. Except for the house with an electric furnace in the background, I think I looked like a modern day Sherpa feeding his yaks.

This April 16th it started to snow again. We didn’t get the wind that accompanied the 2013 storm. We just got snow. And plenty of it. I was thinking, “Oh boy, here comes another Sherpa day.”I drive a truck Ivy calls (appropriately) calls the “Beast”. Six wheels, sits high above the ground, carries a ton of hay, (literally). This truck is great in snow. I don’t think there are many like it in the Himalayas, but I am sure Sherpas would love it. The snow continued through the evening of the 16th and it was still snowing the morning of the 17th. The timing for this storm couldn’t have been worse. Yarn Fest (yarn trade show) starts the morning of the 17th. Elaine cannot miss a trade show because of a snowstorm. (Or for any other reason.)

The Sipes had a problem, we had received 18″ of wet, heavy snow and with 55 miles between Elaine and Yarn Fest, can we get there in time? Yarn Fest will open in five hours. Can the “Beast” get us there?

Yep, the “Beast” broke a trail through the deep snow. Elaine and her SUV followed the “Beast” out of the snow. But that’s not the Sherpa part of this story.

The Sherpa part is when the “Beast” went home. By the evening of the 17th, Mother Nature had dumped another six inches of wet snow on our driveway. At some point during the day the county snowplows plowed the road to our house. Imagine 24″ of snow pushed off the road and placed on top of 24″ of snow next to the road. The snow at the entrance to my driveway is almost four feet deep.

The “Beast” was carrying 1000 lbs. of hay, a couple bags of groceries, a set of twelve year old twins and a senior citizen Sherpa wannabe. I didn’t want to play Sherpa at that moment. It was snowing and getting dark. I pondered for a moment if the “Beast” could push through the 4′ wall of snow. I decided to try it. I should have pondered a while longer. “Beast” pushed the wall and got about halfway through before “Beast” was stuck in the snow.

Llamas and Yaks are native to mountainous areas. They are able to find food under horrible conditions. Not mine! My (our) llamas and yaks hang out by the barn and wait for me to bring them food. Food that is in the back of the “Beast”, stuck in the snow 1/4 mile from the barn. Our animals could have stepped over the fencing and walked down to eat out of the back of the “Beast”. But not our animals, they were willing to wait for me. Here comes the Sherpa part.

The twins and I walked in the snow (24″ deep) the 650(+) steps to the barn with the intent of getting a sled to bring hay and the groceries back to the house and barn. I know it was more the 650 steps because I have one of the those high tech bracelets that guilt you into parking far from your destination and walking.

Boy Twin and I returned to the “Beast” (650+ steps again) to tie a bale of hay and the groceries to the sled. With the hay, etc. tied to the sled, I started back down the driveway pulling the sled (650+ steps). Although the snow was 24″ deep, that wasn’t much of a problem. I was actually only sinking into the snow 18″. (Yes, I was whispering construction language.) (Boy Twin will need to learn construction language from someone else.)

My Sherpa “fun” added only 1-1/2 hours to my night. I had convinced Elaine and Ivy to remain in town. Missing the remaining days of the Yarn Fest because of the storm was not an option. The twins and I were exhausted and went to bed without dinner.

Of course, this isn’t the end of the story. At 2:00 in the morning I was awaken by all four of our dogs barking and wanting outside. Reluctantly, against my better judgment, I let them outside. After about 25 minutes the three Great Pyrenees wanted inside. Walter, the pit-bull/Great Dane was not with them.

Walter is not a big fan of being wet or cold. He is usually the first one back inside the house. Our house is surrounded by an elevated deck on three sides. I yelled out the door for Walter to come inside. Walter was at the bottom of the stairs looking at me. I told him to come inside.

Walter climbed onto the first step of the staircase and stopped. He didn’t want to walk up the stairs covered with snow. I tried to coax him into the house with a dog biscuit but he climbed onto the first step and again turned around. That was totally weird. Walter really likes dog biscuits.

I realized Walter did not want to climb the stairs because they were covered with snow. I thought for a moment. I could leave him out all night. I think that is what a Sherpa would do. But, then I would need to explain to Ivy and Elaine why Walter was frozen out in the yard. They wouldn’t understand my Sherpa theory on that one.

I was going to have to carry him up the stairs. Now, I don’t know what you guys are wearing at 2:30 in the morning, but I’m not wearing much. I started thinking about letting him freeze out there…….. while I was putting on my snow boots. Next, Ol’ Monner is outside in underwear and snow boots shoveling snow off the stairs at 2:35 in the morning. Walter walked up the stairs and looked at me, “Do I still get a dog biscuit?”

It took about an hour to get to sleep!

Our crazy lives!


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