When Rain Turns into Snow

Anne Bonfert

Or a story about the meeting between fall and winter

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  • Credit: Anne Bonfert

Today was the day. The day my holiday started. The day we were driving to the Alps. And the day I switched off my phone. I wouldn’t touch my phone until Sunday. That’s what being on holiday means for me. Disconnecting from my daily life. To reconnect with nature.

My partner and I drove down from work straight to my parents. It was late at night when we arrived. We decided to pack our things in the morning. It was raining as we left the house and didn’t stop until we arrived at the holiday flat in the mountains.

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Mood change

Despite the weather, our mood changed. From rainy depressed to a relaxed holiday vibe. And after a good lunch, we decided to go for a walk. My mom wanted to stay behind. She preferred to read a book.

The rest of us put a few extra layers on and stepped outside. Into the colorful garden of autumns’ leaves. I didn’t even leave the premises yet and stopped already for a photoshoot.

There it is. The first smile of the day. I’m smiling inside. Because I’m away from home. I’m in nature. And it looks stunning. Autumn in the mountains. There is nothing to be sad about.

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The first sight of snow

The raindrops are thick and heavy. The type of rain that will soak you through up to your underwear. Or the type of rain that will turn into snow; if the temperature drops a little bit more. It is really cold already.

We lift our heads and look towards the mountain. It is white already. You can see the white treetops of the forest. I didn’t expect that when planning this hiking holiday. To see snow.

The gorge

Before we left the flat I told my partner we would only go for a short walk through the village. But it seemed like my dad had different plans for us. He’s hitting straight up the mountain. A trail leading next to a river.

Stairs built in the riverbed. If it rains a lot or the snow melts in spring there is nothing to protect this village from the water. Except for these stairs. They are built to slow down the water flow.

Now and then we get some views across the field. We can see the snowflakes in the air. Rain turned into snow by now but the ground is too wet for the snow to remain on the soil. So far.

But dad wants to keep going. Further up. The gorge narrows down. The path is covered in rocks and roots which are all extremely wet due to the rain. Or snow.

In the clearance of the forest, you can spot the snowflakes tumbling from the sky. The first sign of snow on the ground is to be seen. There is a see-through layer of wet snow on the grass.

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Excitement

Little by little the forest turned white. Looking up in the sky all I could see was big snowflakes tumbling onto the earth. What a magic moment. I didn’t expect it to snow today. I didn’t expect us to walk through a winter wonderland this holiday. I did expect us to see some snow maybe. High up in the mountains.

But I would have never imagined something like this. This is like a dream. For me at least. I love the snow. I’m a winter person. Born in December, I was only a few weeks old when I was exposed to snow the first time.

Equipment

We all had good hiking shoes and didn’t slip (too much) on the tricky trail along the gorge. It was a bit challenging. In some places, we have to climb over rocks or step over slippery bridges. The slushy snow falling onto falls leaves created the perfect slip-and-slide situation.

Our rain jackets block the wet snow from cooling us down. Only my pants weren't meant for this weather. Guess I wasn't focused when packing this morning and chose the wrong ones. But as long as my upper body stays warm and dry, I'll be fine.

Due to the heavy rain down in the village, I didn’t even consider taking my camera with me. Cameras don’t do well with water. Most of them at least. My GoPro does in comparison to my big camera and my GoPro also made this trip, luckily. So that I have the chance to capture this amazing incident.

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The waterfall

The trail leads upriver further down into the gorge. We cross the rapidly flowing water and hear the waterfall. A roaring sound next to the gentle sound of snowflakes falling onto earth.

Even though my dad has been in this area a lot he’s never been in this small canyon. But even if he would have been here before it would not be the same. The snow turns it into special scenery.

Thick snowflakes are falling from the sky slowly covering the ground. A small cave provides us some protection and we sit on the bench to embrace the moment. We watch the forest turning white listening to the sound of flowing water and the thunderous waterfall.

“The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination” — Terri Guillemets
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The open field

As the path leads out of the gorge we head towards the open field. The real winter wonderland. One you can only dream about. The snowflakes are getting bigger. The soil is already entirely covered.

A few more steps between the old trees of the forest. A perfect spot to build the first snowman of the year. A small one. But it’s still a snowman.

I didn’t expect any of this when we left the house. Not the fact that we would do such a long hike due to the rain or that we would walk through a snow-covered landscape.

But I’m not complaining. More like the opposite of it. I’m loving it. All my negative thoughts have vanished. I am filled with joy and happiness.

“When snow falls, nature listens.” — Antoinette van Kleef
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The silence

One phenomenon that always occurs on winter days like these is the silence. The silence that begins as soon as the ground is covered with snow. The snow damps any noise.

You don’t hear cars. You don’t hear people talking. Not even the sound of the church bell ringing reaches our ears. Only a few cows lost in the forest are to be heard.

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The village

We eventually reach the next village. We’re now 1200 meters above sea level. Kids are on the playground in front of a guesthouse. They’re having a snowball fight.

We searched for a restaurant to warm up for a bit. But there’s none. It’s Monday and all of them are closed on Mondays. Guess then it is time to head back down. After a quick snowball fight.

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Why the cattle walk up the mountain

We could hear them from far. A herd of cattle in the forest. Their bells are not to be missed. A beautiful sound of the mountains. The cows are coming towards us. Walking uphill.

The reason why they keep on going higher and higher in weather like this is rather simple. Just like us, they can walk easier uphill than downhill. So they just go and go until they can’t go any further.

And with this, a lovely hike in the snow comes to an end. I will never forget this experience. This is why I love nature. Because it’s unpredictable. There’s always a surprise waiting for you.

“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.” — Mary Davis

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I am a traveler. Photographer. Writer. Teacher. Skydiving instructor. Adventure enthusiast. Nature lover. And fell in love with the African continent. My stories go around travel, nature and all kinds of adventurous activities.

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