17. Wyoming
The Long Winter

The Long Winter

“We haven’t seen a winter like this in over twenty years.”

Our next-door neighbors Forest and Gina didn’t grow up in Wyoming, but they’ve been here long enough to be considered “natives”. So when they tell us that this is just about the worst and longest Wyoming winter they’ve lived through, I take their word for it. Because surely, this is the worst and longest winter that I have lived through.

The truck, absolutely buried by one of many snowstorms received this winter.
The lilac bush bows under the weight of a recent snowfall.
Our mailbox balancing its heavy load of snow and ice.
Who’s hungry?
Sporting some icy eyelashes.

A big danger this winter was “ice dams”. I learned that these occur when icicles form and then expand up and under the roof (and then they melt). Luckily we have one tough de-icing, snow-clearing, frost-resistant machine of a man leading our family. Stéphane has cleared feet of snow off the roof, hundreds of icicles from the eaves, and walked miles upon miles man-handling the snowblower through dense, crusted snow while the frigid Wyoming wind bites and whips.

Doing it all with a smile.
Day two of heaving heavy snow off the roof.
He’s smiling under that buff!!
Time to clear the roof snow off of the deck. It never ends.

I will say it again: Stéphane Hefti is a snow clearing machine. The volume and weight of snow he has pushed, lifted, and blown away from our property this winter borders on the unimaginable. And it doesn’t end there: he’s constantly scanning for weather-weaknesses and patching up good as new. Just last week he honed in on one tiny little section of leaky gutter. That insignificant little drip created a not-insignificant ice mound in front of the garage. Thirty minutes later, with some gutter glue and the trusty pink blowdryer(that dries everything but hair), the drip ceased. And an hour later, after a heavy lifting session with the metal rod, the ice mound was no more.

So, yes, it’s been a long winter. Round after round of brutal snowstorms with arctic temps in between. However, the Heftis have still managed to find the fun in it all, where we can, both indoors and out.

Lander creates an ice rink every winter at City Park. You can rent skates for $4 and buy some popcorn and those big dill pickles. Thank goodness for the “walkers”.
One particularly cold and nasty afternoon, Hugo stayed in his jammies and sat, completely focused for hours, following the instructions to build Luke Skywalker’s x-wing.
I’ve continued to run this winter, but it’s been a challenge. The volume of snow has made it nearly-impossible to run on the trails. Luckily we have a groomed road that is sometimes runnable. I’ve also logged many miles on paved road, something I never thought I’d do.
Time to clear some more snow!
Father teaching son how to get it done.
Snow cave!

We’ve been enjoying a lot of board games this winter. This one is Plyos (a Christmas present from the Missanas!). Other regulars include Life, the occasional round of chess, and battleship. However, the M.V.P. of the winter, by far, is MONOPOLY. Hugo is obsessed with it (and very good at it!).
Oh, and we’re still climbing outside! Sinks Canyon has incredible inversions – the temps could be 20 degrees at our home but just two miles down the road and we are in t-shirt weather!! The sun bakes the rock and creates really nice temps to spend the day outside. Provided there is minimal wind 🙂
Go Hugo! Practicing “lead climbing” (while still on top rope). He climbs up and practices placing the quick draw and attached the rope to it, all under daddy’s watchful eye.
A two-minute drive to the trailhead + a ten-minute hike up to the crag = the perfect date afternoon.
Lunch on the crag: salami and egg. And probably a little chalk in the mix too.
Failed attempt to go fat biking. The snow was too deep and the temps were just too frigid. We took a short stroll up the Loop Road before turning back.
It snowed again.
Looking onto the bison ranch from our back fence line. Due to the extreme amounts of snow this year, the ranch has kept the bison very close to their operations (hay, machines, etc.), and because of that, we’ve had the whole herd hanging out on the other side of our fence for months now. Such a treat!
We broke out the fire table for tea time.
With all the hard outdoors work, time to refuel the best way we know how: CHEESE!!!! We’ve enjoyed lots of raclette and fondue meals this winter.
Stéphane has perfected his bread-shaping skills. It’s almost too pretty to slice.
Oh! And pizza of course- how could I forget the incredible pizza!!!

We’ve spent some wonderful evenings holed up in our basement, which is becoming the epicenter of winter indoors activities. Monopoly, climbing, or running- it all happens down here!
While I have continued to run all winter through some pretty brutal conditions, sometimes, a run on the old ‘mill just fits the bill. A very special shout-out to my husband who indulged my desire for a treadmill. Not only did he research to find which type is the best, he then FOUND that very same one, in Denver, and drove, through a storm warning, to bring it home to me. I think he likes me 🙂
A little father-son indoor climbing session at the local climbing gym.
We’ve been spending some time with our rancher friends and learning a lot! Here’s me trying my hand at milking a goat! And fresh goat milk, by the way, is incredible.
Me and Lindsey posing with one very large pig.
Future bacon. mmmmmmm
Stéphane’s commute. And this was on a good day. The roads in Wyoming have been closed so frequently that is has been a challenge for the pilots and medical crew to get to their bases for their shifts.
When he’s not at home, he gets to play in the snow instead of remove the snow 🙂 Here, rescuing a snowmobiler.
My PIC (it actually stands for “pilot in command” but I like to call it “partner in crime” 🙂 )
On the school-front, Hugo has been working hard! He is reading at a halfway-through-second-grade reading level and crushing the maths.
Each student in the Lower Elementary chose a topic of interest; they then spent weeks researching and writing up a report on their findings. Parents then got to attend The Natural History Museum night during which students presented their topics. We learned about river otters, airplanes, electricity, volcanoes, lady bugs, tarantulas, and mummies. But mostly, we learned about pyramids. Hugo researched and then memorized his presentation on pyramids and confidently presented his findings to parents who found their way to his table throughout the night.

Stéphane and I spent a good chunk of time constructing the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt; my sweater, an Ace Bandage, and some colorful construction paper rounded out the look. Oh, and last-minute I added the eye makeup for a dramatic effect 🙂

It is March Fourth as I type this journal entry. The clock shows quarter ’til nine in the morning and it’s a Saturday so Hugo is sleeping in. The house is quiet and still in anticipation for the energy and volume that will soon fill it. It’s a still morning outside as well, with patches of blue sky peeking out between layers of gauzy clouds. There’s a ridiculous amount of snow everywhere I look; the temperature reads eight degrees. Snow is forecasted for this evening, and again next week. Spring, grass, and dirt are hidden in a sea of never-ending white. It’s been a long winter. It’s been an incredible winter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *