Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Crust skiing 2008

Crust Skiing, April 3rd 2008

Stayed at my hunting shack last night. It’s a safe haven for me, for sure. A 16x16 structure with a good roof and plenty windows on all sides, to view the ample stack of fire wood just outside the door, see what’s coming up from the back and one to hopefully see the lilac bloom I planted last fall. A stack of hunting magazines, mainly centered around the rut and how to get deer close enough to lob an arrow through one along side a thick book containing compilations of Grey Owl, a book I found on the discount table in Montreal a few years ago when on a trip there with my wife. One I save for reading only out here in the woods.

No electricity (except for my DC to AC converter in my Jeep that I run an extension cord to, so I can run my laptop), no plumbing, gas lantern for light, when I choose to light it and no stress, and that’s the biggy.

I have a story started about my hunting shack, so I won’t go into anything too deep here. Someday I’ll get it done.

Went out to a 4x4 mile square of woods that we hunt on. There are a number of old logging roads that that wind through this patch of trees, swamp and slashing. They are mainly used for ATV’s and snowmobiling when conditions are right for them and the needs of the folks who use them are justified.

This day it was obvious they hadn’t been used for weeks and were covered with a thick mattress of snow that has melted and frozen over the past few weeks to create a surface just right for crust skiing.

I started out by taking the main route north out to the far end of the now desolate area. Skiing was fast. The temps were in the high 20’s, the sun had been up for a couple hours and the only sound was the peaceful cadence of the skis gliding over the sandpapery yet very low friction surface of the fresh crust, frozen from the previous days melting, the skis breaking small particles off the very top to create a ball bearing like glide.

After reaching the end of the main line about 20 minutes of steady skating, stopping only once to watch a pair of Whooping Cranes rise out of the still frozen beaver pond and glide between me and still rising sun about 2/3 of the way through, I turned to the East. This would lead me back to the start via a border road that connected a series of now empty deer hunting stands. I started coming across a few days old single wolf track, running of course, as it always seems they are. I stopped to take a few pictures and after continuing in a few more yards came across a patch of deer hide, partially exposed and partially still frozen in the snow. Pulling it out to take a close look at it, I scoured the surrounding area for signs of disruption in tall swamp grasses and brush that would tip me off where the wolves had devoured their catch. I couldn’t see anything, which I was familiar with and took off after taking a few pictures of the tracks and hide.

Continuing on the road eventually joined back with the main line that I had started out on. The crust was now starting to get soft as I had been out over an hour or so and the temps were rising fast. Where once before I passed without a trace of a ski on the surface, my track was the familiar V of the skate skier.

I came upon a fresh adult bobcat track that had walked over my old ski marks in the snow. Along side was a much smaller track, that of a juvenile. Mom and the kid out searching for breakfast, I assumed.

I took a different route back to my Heep as I bushwhacked through a narrow ribbon of trees about 75 yards between the logging road and a farmer’s field. I know the farmer well and as I came gliding across the field he jumped off his tractor that he was using to move hay bales and we met near his barn and caught up on old times.

Muskrat houses
Deer hide
Wolf track

Adult and juvenile bobcat
Yours truly

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