We feel a little betrayed by the promising pink sunrise that started the day. Since then a thin gray cloud layer has blocked the sun from Whitehorse Yukon Territory. Thin as it is this overcast is made edgy by the sunlight filtering through and offers none of the comfort or drama offered by cloudy days in Juneau. Our hotel is full of Asian tourists here for the Northern Lights. They may have to wait a day or two to see them.
With plans to visit the Canadian Tire store on the way home we drive 35 kilometers north to a hot springs complex where cross country ski trails snake through a poplar forest. It’s good skiing but we miss the drama of yesterday’s ski near Lake Bennett. Moose tracks cross the ski tracks many times but none of the big animals has walked on the tracks themselves. With the forest floor covered with deep soft snow you would expect them to use the packed trails. At one point we passed nearby a moose, which startled us when he broke nosily away. Every though they look like some kind of farm animal moose scare me more than bears. When they take it into their mind to stomp you they persist until you either escape or feel pain. It is worst if you get between a cow moose and her calf.
While the gray ski offers little beauty, that of the gray barked poplar forest has all the romantic beauty of a black and white film from the 40’s. The trees have a Scandinavian sense of personal space, leaving a couple of feet between each neighbor. Thin, tall, and always just a little crooked, their trunks rise ten or fifteen feet above the snowy ground before sending out branches. Even then they grow upward like saints in prayer rather than out like an apple tree.