When we were figuring out where to go for today's forest adventure, I was still happily daydreaming about last week's trip to Glen Affric, so we decided to return to that area on a different trail. After a little research, we dug up some good reviews about a place called Dog Falls.
As we hit the road, the skies were blue and the sun was shining. It was freezing, but gorgeous!
The drive to Glen Affric was just as beautiful as last time, but we soon saw the sun replaced by dark clouds.
Suddenly big fluffy snow flakes were falling, and within minutes we were in a winter wonderland! The sun was still shining above the low hanging clouds, and creating a beautiful soft atmosphere all around us.
We arrived at our destination, and after layering up, we ventured onto the trail. The snow was falling so heavily, that within a few minutes, we were coated in a thick layer of wet snow.
I was actually a little concerned about my camera, until I remembered that it had survived much worse, so I tucked it under my arm and kept going.
Then, as fast as it appeared, the snow faded away and the sun returned.
Spoiler alert: this ended up being the routine of the day! The sky couldn't make up it's mind.
The trail meanders through a pine forest as it climbs and descends through the hills. There are a few trail options, but we took the longest route so we could spend more time within the trees. Despite moments of hesitation when the snow was so heavy we could barely see, it was a uniquely beautiful day in the woods.
There is a different kind of energy in a forest when the snow is falling. You don't hear birdsong. The sound of wind and creaking pines are emphasized by the utter silence all around. The bright greens and browns of the mosses, barks, ground cover, and rocks are muted by the blanket of white. This creates a beautiful high-contrast landscape.
The falls themselves are difficult to see from the trail, and it was too icy to attempt an off-trail descent for a better look, so we kept walking along the River Affric and back onto the woodland trail.
Fresh layers of snow and ice created a beautiful veil of bright white. We walked along in silence, focusing on the unique sounds of a winter forest. Our feet crunched loudly in the fluffy snow, and the wind whispered around us, calling us forward.
The sun was taking a rather long break, and the snow was piling up quickly.
Exhibit A. Scottish Yeti
I realized there would be no painting today, so my focus became enjoying the beauty of this winter wonderland (and to keep moving so I didn't freeze!)
As we began our return to the car, the clouds gave way once more to the late-day sun. It softly illuminated the fresh snow and everything around has had a gentle sparkle.
We had to physically shake off, in order to remove the thick layer of snow we were carrying around. As we sat in the car, attempting to thaw out, we looked at each other and smiled. We remarked on how alive we felt, and how grateful we were for heaters.
On the way out of Glen Affric, we got stopped by a classic "Scottish roadblock," which made us laugh. As soon as the sheep cleared the road, we looked to the left, and this beautiful heron was standing right next to the car! It looked at us for a moment, then took flight. It was such a cool momentary connection!
I barely had time to lift my camera to snap this photo - so the bird was blurry, but still cool!
On the way home, we enjoyed a soft sunset and some chill music. It was an amazing end to a perfect winter hike!