Old Growth After the Storm

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Aki tears down the trail as if the skiers who made it at the end of storm set the track just for her.  As she disappears around a stand of old growth spruce giants I admire how this old forest friend has been made new by 8 inches of new snow.  Only a heavy storm could force enough flakes through the canopy to blanket the trail. Such a storm ended last night. Now the temperature rises and gentle rain reaches us in the open spots.

Here my skis glide easily down trail so Aki trots behind, dimpling the trail with tracks somewhere in size between those made by the short tailed weasel and those of the wolf that planted his front paws so deeply in the snow while snatching an unfortunately snowshoe hare. Aki confuses the crime scene by walking over it to sniff at the bloody snow.

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The old growth forest is cozy on this grey, warming day. While heavy snow drags down their limbs, the spruce still stand at attention as we pass. It’s different when we cross the muskeg meadow dotted with stunted pines and spruce. Snow wraps over their rounded shoulder and weighs down their tips to turn them into refugees fleeing a winter battlefield. The snow starts sticking to my skis and to Aki, slowing our progress.  Picking up the dog, I pluck large snow balls from her fur before scraping the buildup from my skis. Rather than return to good skiing in the old growth we push on to the river meadow and find more sticky snow.

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A narrow flood channel cuts across the meadow that fills with river water at high tide. Seeing many exposed sand bars in the river where we enter the meadow I don’t worry that the sticky surface slows our progress toward the channel crossing. I should have taken note when ducks huddling on the bars burst into flight without apparent provocation. They could feel the tide race upriver.

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