/noun/ [hoog-uh]: the feeling of coziness and contentment evoked by simple comforts, as being wrapped in a blanket, having conversations with friend or family, enjoying food, etc.
As a Florida girl, I had never heard about this phenomenon called “Crust Cruising.” It’s springtime magic. The days get warm enough to melt the snow a little bit, and then it refreezes over night, creating a crusty skateable/walkable layer of snow. It means that there are no limits—you can saunter on mountainsides that are usually covered in sage because you’re on top of it all, walking on six feet or so of snow from the winter storms.
The cruising of the crust coincided perfectly with the first week of extended daylight this year. Pal and I headed out immediately after work to the same area daily because we fell in love with it.
Four out of five days that week, we saw a man and his dog arrive around the same time. The man looked to be in his sixties. The yellow lab appeared to be Pal’s age–the dogs were very aware of each other, but didn’t bark or try to run to greet one another. Just like the man and me.
He carries a chair and a backpack. They walk above the trail, we walk below it, leaving the actual packed down trail for somebody who doesn’t appreciate the exploratory route of having no route. The man and his dog find their way to the same hill and then sit at the very top, sometimes for the entirety of my walk. I wonder if they’re just soaking up as much sun as they possibly can after work, too…if this is his hygge, a simple comfort of a daily walk to the same hill, where they will be silent and watch the shadows on the snow as the sun sets. Or maybe he just lost his wife and this is where they used to walk together. Maybe he’s writing to her on a postcard because he just doesn’t know what else to do with his grief, he just feels like he needs to write how much he misses her.
Maybe he’s actually chugging whiskey and thinking about how much he hates everyone and everything. Either way, in some weird way, I think it’s beautiful, this peaceful habitual snowy hill hike.