Running in the Snow at Obsidian Dome | Eastern Sierra

Oh look, that rhymes a little! Seriously tho, I really love snow.

Okay, okay, I’m going to stop now and finally get to it.

I love snow. I think I’ve made it more or less common knowledge on this blog, but if you’re new here, or you haven’t seen the previous snow-related posts, hello, I’m a twenty-something adult human, and I still get a kick out of snow like a little child.

I also run quite a bit, although I’ve been an injured piece of trash for the past two months and am only now slowly getting back on my feet. (I know, awesome pun, you don’t have to clap.) But how do those two things relate?

Well, if you’re anything like me or the other thousands of crazy people who like those things, you’ll probably want to combine them at some point. As I live in the Bay Area, I don’t get many chances at enjoying those two things together, but last February (yes, just before all hell broke loose), I had a week off and headed to the Eastern Sierras, where a lot of snow still covered the mountains as well as a little geological curiosity called Obsidian Dome. A toddler in the world of geology, this dome was born only a little over 600 years ago. If you are about to embark there to collect some of the obsidian rock to create arrowheads, don’t; this obsidian is more porous and therefore unfit for such endeavors.

I’m a bit of a geology nerd on the side, so running through the snow to the obsidian dome was the perfect combination, at least in my head. I parked at the trailhead, laced up my Lone Peaks, and headed off on the snow-covered fireroad. I wasn’t alone there; a few cars stood in the parking lot, and a pair of friends were getting ready to head out on their skis. Are you starting to see what I so naively didn’t?

At first, it was easy. The snow was either packed or melted almost all the way to the ground, so running in it was pure joy. I loved the way it flew off my shoes when I put a little work in a sprinted a little, and how I left perfect shoeprints when I ran slow. The sun was bright, the air was fresh, and the trail soft and easy to run. What more could I want in life?

By the time I reached a split in the firefoad and a sign pointing me in the right direction for the dome, things have changed a little. The sun was still shining, sky bluer than ever,… and the trail was still soft, just… a little more soft than what a comfortable level for running would be. It was more and more work to even walk in it, yet there I was, still fuming ahead like a steam train, refusing to admit that skis or snowshoes were probably the better choice of footwear.

When I saw the dome on my left for the first time, I’ve been reduced to slow slog through the snow, burying my feet in the deep snow with every step. Here and there the snow had melted, frozen, and hardened enough for some light running, but most of the time, I was just barely making it. I prayed no skier would meet me, a foolish runner trying to make it where runners didn’t have anything to do (yet).

I made it to the base of the dome and started to climb the trail leading up. The snow was almost gone there, and even though I despise uphill running with the utmost animosity, I actually ran up that thing because it was leaps easier than whatever the movements I was going through down in the snow could be called.

The views there were beyond beautiful (and, before you ask, no, I wasn’t cold; during the crawl through the snow, I got rid of my jacket that was securely tied to my running pack while I was sweating buckets even though it wasn’t more than 5 degrees Celsius, 40 Fahrenheit). I was happier than I thought I would be, not only because I made it, but because I was finally out of the deep snow. (Cue the realization I still had to make my way back through it.)

I could see the snow-covered Sierras to the south, regretting for a few moments that I didn’t bring my camera, because, with that zoom I’d get from it, it would make for some really epic pictures. Much closer to me, to the southwest, stood White Wind Mountain. (Yes, I got that obsidian rock structure in two different shots because I found it very intriguing.)

After wandering around Obsidian Dome, the time came for me to brave the deep snow once again. I’m making it sound grand here, but in reality, I was cursing myself for being so dumb as to think that it would be easy to run in the snow that was still knee-deep in some places.

Luckily, the sun did its work, and more patches of the deep snow melted a little, the wetness making them more resistant. I could run, or, rather, imitate running here and there. I met my first skier and when he pointed out to my non-ski and non-snowshoe equipped feet and said wow, I couldn’t decipher whether he meant “wow, good job for getting so far while being an idiot in sneakers here” or “wow, what an idiot to come in sneakers here.”

Thanks to the snow getting harder and the running becoming a little easier, I was finally able to look around more than on the ground and took in all the evergreens dotting the land. Their reddish bark and green conifers made for a beautiful contrast with the pure white snow and the deep blue sky. If there was a paradise on Earth, I was there that day.

I made it back to the trailhead, slipped out of the drenched shoes and socks, propping them on the windshield to catch all the breeze and sun they could, and made myself some gnochi for lunch. A pair of dogs came around to ask me if I could share a bit of my food, and their owner asked me if I sericously went out there only in my sneakers, pointing to the windshield where my Lone Peaks dominated the view. He called his doggos away, probably worried they’d catch the crazy.


More from Eastern Sierra:

A Cold Morning | Betsy in the Eastern Sierras

The Memory that Brings Me Peace

More running adventures:

Limitless Vertical Challenge | Race Report

Night-Time : Run-Time

More snow-related idiocy:

Hidden Lake | Glacier Half Trifecta

Snow? Is it you? | Mt St Helena

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