Tag Archive 'snowshoeing'

Feb 03 2011

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Snow Day

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Over a foot of snow fell on northern Vermont yesterday – the tail end of the big storm that rocked half the country.  I spent a good part of the day shoveling it, and there was still plenty more to tackle this morning.

After three more hours of shoveling, you’d think I’d seen enough snow.  But the sky broke open around midday, temps climbed into the high teens and, well, I had a hankering to go snowshoeing.  So that’s what I did.

Vermonters aren’t easily shaken by the white stuff.  Most of the driveways that I passed on the way to the trailhead had been plowed out, and everyone was pretty much going about their business as usual.  If you can’t handle a little snow, then you shouldn’t live in Vermont.  So I’ve learned to adapt.  I take to the woods with my trusty pair of Green Mountain Bear Paws whenever the snow gets knee deep or better.

I started out on a well-groomed snowmobile trail so I really didn’t need the snowshoes at first.  But half a mile into the walk, I got a powerful urge to cut fresh tracks across the pristine snow.  Every snowshoeing fool knows that urge well.  I stepped off trail and felt the difference immediately.  My heart was pounding hard five minutes into it.  My dog Matika was delighted by the detour. She leapt through the powder, leaving chest-deep holes in her wake.

Eventually we stumbled upon a fresh deer trail and the going was a little easier.  Until we veered away from it.  When the deer trail headed for a marsh, we opted for higher ground.  We followed a small ridge taking us back the way we came.  And forty minutes after leaving the snowmobile trail, we tagged it again.  A short but sweet excursion.  Just enough clear my head.

Back home now, the sun is setting in a cloudless sky.  Wow.   I haven’t done a damned thing all day – nothing that qualifies as productive work, that is.  But snow days are like that.  When a big dump comes, you can either complain about it or embrace it.  Today I chose the latter and thoroughly enjoyed the diversion.  What the heck, I’ll get back to work tomorrow.

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Jan 11 2010

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Getting into Winter

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I’ve never been a big fan of winter, and after shoveling the white stuff for a few days, I begin to hate it.  But it’s unhealthy to live in a place like Vermont and stay home from the first snow flurry of the season to the last.  So even now, in the middle of winter when all I want to do is hibernate, I make it a point to get into the woods when I can.

A Nor’easter struck a week ago.  For all you who don’t live in New England, that means lots of precipitation straight from the ocean.  In this case, it came in the form of snow falling for three days in a row.  Between one and three feet of it, depending upon where it was measured.  Good if you like to ski; not so good if you have to shovel your own driveway.  I fall into the latter category.  But once I finished pushing back the white stuff, I grabbed my snowshoes and headed for the hills.

There’s a wild area on French Hill, not far from home.  I go there whenever time is tight but I need to get out.  I went there a few days ago and cut tracks across the trackless snow until I reached a snowshoe trail that someone else had cut a week earlier.  Even with fresh snow, I still found it easier to follow that trail than to cut new tracks.  Fortunately, it led to where I wanted to go: a beaver pond less than a mile from the road.

My dog, Matika, loves the snow.  I’m not sure why.  I think it holds smells better than dirt does.  At any rate, she likes to frolic in the snow, occasionally burying her snout in it to investigate some hidden treasure.  She looks silly with her face all frosted but she doesn’t seem to care.

First thing I notice whenever I’m alone in the woods after a big snowstorm is how incredibly quiet it is.  An ominous quiet, that is.  Robert Frost nailed it with his poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” of course.  But standing  in a cold, white forest, it’s easy for me to believe that I just discovered the terrible beauty that wild nature becomes in deep winter.  Trees heavily laden with snow are both magnificent and surreal.  As they droop towards me, I keep thinking that maybe I shouldn’t be alone out here.

The beaver pond was frozen over – a black-and-white photograph brought to life.  Starkly beautiful.  The gray clouds overhead thickened and a flurry commenced.  Matika wanted to keep going deeper into the woods, but I thought it best to turn around.  By the time I reached the car, my own sweat had chilled me.  But it was good to get out.  And whatever gripe I had earlier in the day was forgotten by the time I got back home.

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