Monday, February 22, 2021

Fresh Tracks...And a Trap


A fresh snowfall over all the frozen ice offered some more lovely skiing. Although it was a fluffy few inches, it freshened up our winter world. Once again, my determination to beat the crowds rewarded me with fresh snow, fresh tracks, and no other people.

I started shoveling the drive at the barn, but John insisted I stop (especially since it aggravates my tendonitis) and go skiing instead. He didn't have to insist too hard!

Blue wax, with a some blue extra to go, seemed to be the waxes for the day. I stocked my pack with camera, phone, spare mitts, spare shells, windbreaker, vest and water. The top of the pasture was tricky--frozen manure and exposed rocks--but I managed to maneover my way for a straight schuss down along the fenceline to the logging road. I floated over the new snow in the morning sun, just beginning to peak over the eastern ridge. The horses watched me glide by, Vance even making a move to follow me, but turned and cantered back to the gang.

I grinned and said, "YES!" as I approached the empty parking lot, knowing I would have fresh, unbroken snow and no pandemic hordes to ski around, forcing me to "mask up". I had my mask handy, in my pants pocket, but thankfully,did not need to pull it out.

Snowshoers and hikers left big frozen divets in the trail--a far cry from the lovely skiing on packed powder I'd experienced the last time.
My skis jumped around the peaks and valleys pocking the trail. I tried to ski on the edge, but the entire trail had been tracked out, leaving no place else to go. Once I reached the fork to Big Bump, I veered off, hoping less traffic had mangled the trail. I made up my mind to decend down the power line to avoid the lumpy, bumpy run back through Orris Falls. I called John to let him know where I would exit on the off chance he drove down to the trail head to pick me up. Turns out, that was a good thing.

I zig-zagged my way down the power line, crossing animal trails everywhere. A large deer yard under some hemlocks showed recent activity. Snowshoe hare tracks, tiny mouse trails, hunting fox prints, and plunging squirrel divets all showed the diversity of the wildlife that calls this area home.

When I reached the top of the hillside, I opted for "Harley's route" which avoids the rock-strewn, washed out path along the power line. His route, easier on the old knees, traverses the hill. With a few kick-turns, some side slipping, and careful maneovering, I'd almost made it when I missed a turn and headed right at some exposed barbed wire snaking around a tree. I yelled out "Barbed wire", hoping my skis would miss it, but no, one ski caught the wire and sent me flying face forward. John laughed, I laughed, and said, "Can you give me hand? I'm stuck." Lesson learned: always carry wire cutters when skiing old hill pastures!

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