Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

2008 is the year i started this blog.
I became,
-keeper of wild places-

Most importantly I finally, totally, blissfully, allowed myself
to do what i truly love.

-Enjoy the wilderness-

One day in the beginning of this year, i sat down with myself,
for some serious talk. What to do with my life?

Well, this is it, everything you read in my blogs.
I am loving it!

Thank you Hetty, Oom Bram and John!
And thank you!
Thanks to all of you, 2008 was/is a fantastic year.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Venus and the Moon


Venus and the Moon.
I get so excited about a thing like this. Ain't it beautiful?
According to the Skywatchers calender, Jupiter and Mercury are on the lower right of the moon. I will go out again, dress this time(i took this photo walking around on my socks) and look for them with the binoculars, I let you know.

No, can't find them. Did they go down below the horizon?

Cross country skiing

Well, it is still below -30 C.
And don't mind what i said before; The skiing is great.

The story is, Don wanted to buy me boots for Christmas. I tried on a pair of winter Scarpas. OH MY, they fitted like a glove, and would be exactly what i ever wanted.
Wasn't it for the price. We decided to wait till boxing day, but that day came and went. I don't really need more boots, i don't.

But Don thinks different, yesterday he brought home a similar pair, less then half the price.
You know they fit like a glove too, Sorels.
This morning i got out my Epokes(a kind of ski), the scarpas would have fitted perfectly, but i rigged up the binding a little bit and it seemed these sorels fit. I try them out and it works, i don't loose a ski half way down the hill.

Off to the lake!
The sun came out a little bit, earlier. On the horizon there are low clouds. It is not the least foggy, nor are there clouds up high. But just along the rim, behind most mountains, but in front of 'tyler' mountain, who is the highest here, 7000 feet, it's top is above the clouds.
Well it all looks very good.
I am warm! Are these boots better then my old ones(that don't fit skis) or is my body getting used to this weather?
On the lake the snow is perfect , as in, if you have ever plastered a wall, this is the result you want. It is a joy to break a trail with my skis in that wonderful surface.
I go around 'barb's fen', here, because of the amount of snow, the skiing is much better then before. Come back out on the lake.
There are little tracks, that totally cross the lake. My track book (L.Forrest) suggests; voles, they have a two print pattern. That's a long trip for a little guy.
The bigger tracks, carnivores, follow the skidoo track.
I break some trail towards 'blue china swamp' and return home.

And i am still warm. I take a photo of my face, which honestly is warm too. I like the white icicles on my eyelashes, see 'profile'.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Elfin Creek

And i even got out today. The snow is now knee deep.
First i follow the hard packed trail. I have a desire to check up on the elves.
And where 'elfin creek' crosses the 'beach trail', I turn left to go to the 'elfin falls'. I know they will be covered in snow, but still...
Surprisingly (or maybe not) it is easy to walk here, the snow on the ice not very deep. This creek is very small over grown and even goes underground at places. But now in winter, it actually is broader and deeper, as in the banks higher.
As the growth in summer is very thick here, now without the leaves it is opener. It is a magical world, the snow is laying on the branches heavily, no wind here.
At a little opening, i am sure there's elves living here, it feels so pleasant, i take of mittens and toque.(not for long).
What in summer takes a long time and i even have gotten lost here, now in no time i come out by the power line. And i decide to go a little farther. Alexander and i found here our favorite Christmas tree (12 years ago), and we said we'll bring it in one year, when Don has built us a castle. Well actually he did build the castle, at least that's what it feels like. But the tree can stay where it is. It is gorgeous today! And because of it's width covered in thick snow.

Chickadee


The Chickadees are all puffed up in this cold.
I posted another picture on my Yukon birds blog.

Wild


My fridge.

My favorite item on it.

Fridge? I should have posted my freezer. As outside we are stuck in the freezer, it is currently, at my outhouse, -34C again.

So, i am looking for wilderness inside.
Thank you Sue, first for suggestion posting one's fridge, to bloggers out there.
And thank you for your concern to me. I am feeling totally good again.

About the fridge, it's a consul, a propane fridge, from the days we had no electricity.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Uhmmm



I missed the sun, so i send myself and you a card from that distant star.
It is actually very nice outside. No sun, very,very quiet. The sound of my own blood flowing, inbearably loud. Ah, i do hear a distant raven and some chickadees closer by. I sit on my rock.(the one that had floated here on the ice of ancient Glacial Lake Champagne).
You wouldn't know that it was snowing, but when i look up and sit still it falls on my face. When i hold up my black mitten , i see the tiniest specks against the dark background.
You know I felt kind of low today, but when I am outside, for me, All is Good! I am the beloved. (i read that in a book from Henri Nouwen)
And even now it feels silly to talk about any troubles i might have. Because there are none, honestly. I am very, very blessed.
Whatever bothered me, is now irrelevant. Might i remember that, when life screams at me inbearably loud and i am drowning in my own sorrow.

Thank you sun, for remembering me.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ravens


It is Boxing day. And a glorious -20C temperature. Don and i had planned to go Boxing day shopping. With all our difference i rejoice that at times we are kindred spirits; we both decided not to go and stay home instead!
I took advantage of the 'warm' weather and went on a 3 hour snowshoe to the Mendenhall river.
It is snowing, and it is good thing to keep my trail visible. Once in the meadow i lost my trail, my snow shoes sinking in deeply in the powdery snow. Even when i don't see the ski tracks, which make up the trail, i can definitely feel them as a nice hard base.
I try to capture the river's beauty in this photo. Do you get the feeling that its like being in a .... half pipe?
As i go back i decide to check out the meadow beside the one i came through. As it is so nice, in the openness of the meadows, i can see where the sun is behind the clouds.
As i cut through the woods; i disturb some Ravens, and they circle overhead of me, and as i get closer to where they were occupied before i came, they disappear.
I snow shoe up to the spot, there is blood, a recent fire pit and a pile of stuff.
Also some wolf droppings and Bison poop. There is no fur or any remains that indicate an animal kill. Just this pile of ..... light brown mush, with little piece of yellow grass. It is at least 3 feet in diameter. When i get home i ask Don; how big are the stomach contents of a Bison, he spreads out his arms and out lines a pile 5 feet wide. Ahh... could it be.... I took a little piece of the mush home, and taking it out of my pocket now; it stinks like, well, poop. Nice Jozien.
I guess i came upon the site of a lucky hunter.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Water and Fire

Finally the weather is warming up and -25 C feels balmy.
These photo's were taken in the below -30 weather.
Don getting drinking water from Stony Creek, last sunday.

Jane enjoying the sun and the fire, monday.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowshoeing

Still cold, but Jane and i had planned to go out on this day for a long time.
And we are glad we did. I still feel all rosy.
We would have gone skiing, but i am not equipped to go skiing in these temperatures.
So we took the snow shoes. We met on the T on Harrison road. As we met at around 10.45 am , the Sun was up! From this point the sun comes up right in between Vanier and Gemini Mountain. At my house it was not up yet then again at the end of my driveway it was.
Anyway it heralds a good day. We take the blue ribbon trail towards Nipple Mountain.
First the Trail is excellent, but in the old creek bed the going is a little rough. All this is breaking trail going uphill. We plan on resting in the meadow. But the meadow is cold and only at far North end the sun is shining, the rest in the shade But not to far of , we see a little exposed ridge in the sun.

Ah I just lost the rest of my story. You have to take my word for it, that the trip was very very good. We were toasty warm(most of the time) reached some beautiful country and were home at 4 pm.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mirage



The two peaks: Mount Decoeli and probably Outpost Mountain.
In front you see the mirage which reshaped Paint Mountain (by Haines Junction).
I zoomed in and then trimmed the photo. I see those Mountains from our little hill (don's descent) They are 110km , 150 km and Paint mountain 90 km away from here.

The Sun

It is 11.05 and the 'new' sun is up, here in Mendenhall. New; really the North Pole on the axis of the earth starts tilting towards the sun again. As the sun stays very low, we have a long period of dusk, and i think depending on your location, the actual rising time seen from your window, differs greatly with the official sunrise at that latitude.

I'll go for a celebratory walk See you later!

Back to the light

It's Winter!
As we have had winter weather for a while. We in our household always call this day; Back to the light! Reading the Whitehorse weather report, today the sun will come up at 10.09 and set at 15.47. And we will gain a few minutes of light per day, March 21 we will be even with everybody else. And Zee, what we look forward to, is June 21 when we have the longest day of the year.
But, you asked; why would we want to live here. Good question! The Whitehorse weather report says -35 C. Which means that here around my house it is colder yet.
I can't speak for others, but I love it a lot here. Yes, even the cold.

I just went to the outhouse (we do have indoor plumbing, though) and indeed the thermometer there reads -40 C.

Instead of trying to explain the unexplainable, why i love it. I will tell today what it is like for me in this cold at this moment. There is Christmas music, the tree is beautiful. It is very cozy. And I like the idea, that we are in the middle of that great wilderness only protected by 4 walls.
My right eyebrow is permanently cold since yesterday, so is my right hand actually. Yet the woodstove is burning hot.
It is 8 am now. And still pitch black outside. The stars are incredible, the Milky Way quite clear. I have been wanting to write about an evening star; The last few evenings there has been this incredible bright star in the South. It surely is Venus.
When outside especially at night. We can hear traffic very clearly. We live some 2.5 km. away from the Alaska highway. This morning when i was outside there was one car on the road, and as the sound travels very far in this cold, it sounded very close by. The birds are not up yet, and i am sure the deer are still in their 'beds' made in the snow. And the bears sleeping through all of this in their dens.
It is so Chritsmassy! Everything is totally still. "All is calm, all is bright."

Friday, December 19, 2008

minus 30 Celcius days

For a week now!
But we don't have the worst of weather by the sounds of it.

After my two days in town, i am glad to be home again, stoke the fire and bundle up to go out. I actually find it wonderful.

In town it's a different story. Everything is ..... extreme. To take my friend Anne out for lunch (thanks Barb!) was the high light, showing her Whitehorse in the cold. Then i too can appreciate the beauty of it all.

But i do hope everybody has a choice to stay home in this extreme weather all over the continent, and that they have a means to stay warm. Good luck to you all!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)


The deer here are not used to people. And as you see, hard to capture on camera.
The most clear picture taken on an angle, sorry.


This morning i went into meditation; counseling My Higher Consciousness. No specific topic in mind. First I see in my head a doll's face. I think; "oh Jolly, i am going to find my long lost doll today." So, me being always so down to earth, ask; "Where?"
Too bad for me, that is not exactly how it works.
But after a meditation like that i do stay close to my 'Higher Consciousness' and miraculously i do find the doll, by accident, after I forgot about her again.

To come to the point; I like to think that the deer today where also part of a Divine Plan.

The deer are a fairly recent sight in the Yukon. Up till now it seems they only visit my garden in the winter. I do like my garden even in the winter and have to admit the deer and elk eat everything that is left.
Today when I saw them, they were eating delphinium stalks and rose hips.
They soon realized that i was watching them and disappeared in the forest surrounding our house. I followed them for half an hour, and did get some descent shots (I posted 2 more on 'flickr', my account called 'je zon').
As i followed them , they stayed around 30 feet away from me, while i did my best to hide and stay totally quiet. Nibbling here and there, but mostly keeping an eye on me. I saw the buck eat a 'witches broom' on a Spruce tree.

Thank You!

waterfootprint


http://www.waterfootprint.org
I just listened to an amazing program on the local CBC radio.
And it finally prompts me to take a slightly different route as Keeper of Wild Places.
Formerly I have only shared my experiences in the wilderness.
Knowing that at this moment in my live that's were i belong; out in the bush following the foot prints of a Snowshoe Hare.
I believe that by sharing that pure Joy with you, i somehow keep those wild places.
In the realm of; what one focuses on with passion, one co-creates.

From now on I will, once in a while, also enter a post, that is more reflective like this one.
This one about awareness.

As i sit here typing (i don't know it's 'foot print') But I am drinking coffee!
1 cup of coffee takes 140 litres of water to produce!!!!
Yesterday while i am enjoying water having formed ice crystals on a bush. I come home and waste 140 litres of treated water! What if that water was taken right here in my back yard, treated, used for making coffee, etc.
I would definitely have less Wilderness to enjoy. At the same time while enjoying my coffee i EXPECT all that impact in somebody else's backyard.

Now, we all leave a foot print, like the Hare.
Nothing is as simple as it seems, and i will print yesterday's photo of the foot prints i followed. Is it a Snowshoe Hare?
(my pink pack 10 inches/25cm) And what about the trail? Maybe this Hare was following foot prints too, of another animal.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Warmer on top


This morning i listened to the Mount Sima snow report. They have a thermometer on top of the Mountain, apparently it said -15C, while down below it was more like
-30C.
They call it inversion.
Here it is
-35C. I leave when it warms up a few degrees, I am heading for the mountain. To bask in warm sunshine on top!
The following photo shows that more creatures landed there.
Maybe Grouse or Ptarmigan.
Like yesterday's prints they walked all over. Here they did walk down hill. Looking at yesterday's photo and what i seen today, when they take flight again, they do so in a right angle. Uhmm?

It does seem warmer here, i don't make it all the way to the top though. The snow is deep at places, the climbing steep and places i just slide down hill on the snow.
I stop at an exposed rock face, the wind has kept it clear, and sit down.

A little way down, but on the slope, i met some chickadees and Grosbeaks.
I didn't meet the snowshoe hare, who puzzled me on the way up and i still don't know if it was a snowshoe hare. It's tracks so wide (8 inches at least), making a continues path at places and elsewhere hopping quite a distance, like 3 feet.
And it took shelter in a small cave under a big boulder, at the bottom of the slope.

Many beautiful sights today. One of them in the top photo; hoarfrost on a dwarf birch. Taken in the 'blue china swamp'. I named this swamp which is in between 'moose skull lake' and the esker under 'maria mountain', for a blue Chinese balloon i once found there.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's a bird

Ah, it's cold out here.
Around -30C. I am on top of the hill before sunrise. First walking through the thick Spruce forest laden with snow. It's magical in the early morning / moon light.
Soon i come out in the open where it is a tat warmer. There is fresh deer tracks, but i don't get to see them. All is quiet, I hear a few Ravens and an early singer, probably a Grosbeak. On top of the hill I follow these bird tracks. It obviously landed, walked from place to place over the hill, and here it took off.
Already going down i finally get a presentable photo of the Moon. The moon has been bright for a few days and nights. I need to learn how to get it on camera. Any suggestions? Maybe I'll take my tripod out when it's a little warmer.
They say, "what comes with the moon, goes with the moon." Does that mean it will be cold for a month?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas tree



This is not The tree, it's where i got the tree, at 'Barb's fen'.
The tree i got actually looks very much, like a 'normal' Christmas tree. Which is hard to find here, in my endless Spruce forests, as we have a semi-arid climate.

But what is your tradition around getting the Christmas tree?

When i look back at my childhood, it seems it was always exciting,
-but endlessly the same every year-.
The only thing different from year to year, was actually the tree.
We would stand around it, awe-ing and ah-ing, but commenting on size ,color and full-ness.
Now those comments are always the same;'"uhm, i think it is a good one, not as skinny as last year's."

But about the actual tradition of getting it; i find as the years pass, it is subject to change very much.
When Alexander was young, it was a family event.
Later years it would be; me, Alexander and Zoe.
Last year; just Aria and me. Aria was here from Holland, and it was very special to cut it with her.

This year i am on my own.
As it is still a very rewarding experience, I am very grateful that my two men are still with me to do the celebrating!

I went on skis, pulling the skiff behind me, searched for the right tree quite extensively, cut it with a hand saw, put it on the skiff and pulled it home. A 3 hour job in mild weather, under beautiful skies. Thank you!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

dream mountain


This photo was taken Aug. 2 2008.
And has really nothing to do with today, only that we were checking maps and satellite images. Looking at the bison range, where they could be and were we humans could possibly go.
I love maps, and dream away looking at them for hours.
And what do i spot; my 'dream mountain'. Since i laid eyes on it (2 years ago), i want to go there.
Up till now the dreaming very tantalizing.
Up till now! On the satellite images, I see that Cranberry creek, is a white line.(white is openness). 11 km in a straight enough line to the bottom of dream mnt.

This is my plan (one day in summer):
Drive the Taye Lake road, a km before the cabins, look straight East for an easy way through. One km East from the road there is a clear ridge of Cranberry creek.
The ridge should not be hard to find. And from there North, 11.km or so, following Cranberry Creek. Look East, the last km., for an easy way up to the top of my dream. From there 2500 feet steep climbing (left side on photo).

There you go. Who's coming?

For today, i gotta run; sunny day, snow to shovel, bison tongue to boil.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blue stain on Spruce tree


Another white day, but as you see i found some color.
What i call a white day, you maybe call a grey day. But out here in the woods it's white, it's light.

About the photo; as i was marking the trail towards the meadow, Which i marked with yellow ticker tape, I came upon this healthy looking big Spruce tree.
I had never seen this blue color on bark. The yellowish white is Spruce sap (pitch). and the orange is the inside of the tree.

That the bark is coming of, maybe means that the tree is not so healthy.
I wonder if the blue is; blue stain fungi (Ophiostoma sp.)
which is mentioned with the occurrence of the Spruce Bark Beetle.

If you know for sure, what this Blue is, please let me know. Thanks

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 7, 2008

teepee frame


I went to visit a friend, and took this picture in her yard.
You see a raven on the left and a magpie on the right.
She says it is a great perch for Bald and Golden Eagles, they can see all the Gophers in the field.

As you see it was a very white day.
Beside visiting I stayed inside to wrap up some of the bison.
I made 2 dozen little packages. 1 Liver - 5.5 lb/2.5kg. 2 Hearts 3lb/1.5kg each.
That is a lot of organ meat. Alexander loves heart and I liver.

The hearts had a lot of fat and i am rendering that on the wood stove.

This morning i listened to Don's stories of the hunt. Exciting and fun. We had some good laughs. But no kidding ,it is hard work, and nothing easy about it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wood Bison hunt

On December 1 the Bison hunting season opened.
Some places in the world the Bison are an endangered species.
Not here! It is a long story and i am sure you can find all the information on the Internet. -the Yukon or Aishihik Wood Bison-

My house here, is right in the middle of their pasture.
Which is an area bigger then my home country (Holland).

And sure enough, yesterday the hunters(my husband one of them) went searching in all those.....
Maybe it is secret, you might know what hunters are like?
So all i say is ; over the hills, and through the forest, crossing rivers, in a far away corner of this great land;
They got a Bison!

Today they (the hunting party had grown) went back to get the rest of the animal's remains. Sure enough to come back with two more.

I know what i will be eating this winter.
I am very grateful for that.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Glacial lake Champagne

I just did some searching on the Internet, about this 'long ago lake'.
Here in the Yukon, i always find there is still lots too be studied.
And when i find something on the Internet, Yukon publication are not always so accessible; "Grant Lowey" (he is a friend) " i couldn't add your article to my favorites for some reason." "So you know." Another article took me forever to down load.

Having overcome all obstacles! What i know now is sooo interesting.(to me)

Some point in time when Lake Champagne was a lake;
The highest water level was 772 meters. And indeed that is exactly the height of 'Don's descent' ( our back yard sledding hill).
Following that mark of 772 meters (on Google Earth), it does follow my beach trail.
Of course it is the other way around, my trail follows the high water mark.

For reasons, you can read on the Internet, the water level drops to 744 meters.
On google earth again, i see that that is exactly where there is a ridge. I have spoken about this ridge many times, it is where i overlook the highway and the Mendenhall River. At the South-West end of the fire smart.

Going down again, both the water level in the past and me now walking.
The water level drops to 714 meter.
Which is the height of the bluff on the South side of the Highway.

Marvellous!

Beach trail



My oh my, it is not easy to be a biologist, geologist, historian, etc. all at the same time. Especially if you never have gone to University like me.
Anyway i am, once again, trying to find out, when the place where i live was a lake, and my house almost on the beach. Accordingly to the literature i have, these lakes happened several times.
Lake champagne; last time it was here, probably 3000 years ago.
Which really is not very long ago, and i can clearly see some sort of beach.

Hence my 'beach trail'.
This morning in full sunshine and blue sky, I went up to 'Don's descent' with Pelly, Nora and Jane. The top of 'Don's descent'. is on the 'beach'.
As we are on the top, we see a low, flimsy cloud in the South East.
The three of them stay on the hill to board and ski, whereas i follow the trail west.

Through dips and gullies. Again something i don't know; what is the word for those gullies formed by the water? My trail tries to stay on top where the beach is flat.
I come upon fresh Moose tracks.
In the meantime the cloud is growing.
I go down by the old gravel pit, to find farmer Brown's new bulldozed bush road. I follow an old road towards the power line. And his new road is actually very close to the power line.
Well now we know.
Now i am this far, i don't want to go onto it, and decide to back track and take another trail which might take me up to the beach again.
Indeed i come out on a ridge.

Looking over the 'sea' the clouds are rolling in now. See picture.

The reason for this picture is ; from here you can see, I am on a high point, looking East, you see another ridge and behind that, on the right, the spot on the beach where my trail ended.
By now i am carrying my skis anyway and decide to go as straight as i can to that spot. I make a little loop to the left as to avoid the deepest part of the gully. Close to the left they connect, as on top of a cirque.
Amazingly it is beaches all the way and i come out right on top of the old gravel pit where my beach trail ended.
On skis again and i am back at my party in no time. There is a moose sausage waiting for me. Yummy!

In the mist!

By the time we leave we are back in sunshine again.

Now typing, clouds descended upon us.

Monday, December 1, 2008

An old giant


It's cooled off a bit this morning, there 's a North wind.
I go for a walk North. From the North we are protected by the mountains. I am walking on my blue ribbon trail, it goes uphill, over drumlins and eskers.
In between them (they run East-West) the glacier(long time ago) gauged out a flat piece of land. I follow a creekbed to a meadow. From the meadow I see through the trees another drumlin, farther north, that will be my destination for today.
The sun is coming out again and that's where i see this tree. It is taller then all the life trees. Once there was a bigger forest i suppose.

On my way back i find the entry of an old creekbed, which too suggest a wetter period in time. The creekbed is amazing; rock sides, and a tangled forest in the bottom. It hasn't snowed for a few weeks. Some snow is still trying to hang on the trees though. There is no wind here in this narrow place. Snow in big clumps and drapes, hangs on to the willows.

In this world here there are hard well worn trails from the little animals.All i see are some squirrels.

And as a bonus on top of the last esker, I get a beautiul view of 'moose skull lake' the 'pyramid', and from here, a sunny white 'tyler mnt.' in the background.
A single Grossbeak sings a song for me!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Canon powershot


I have had my camera for 2 years now, and am very happy with it. I say mine, but it is from all 3 of us. We purchased it with recycling money and points.
This morning i was going through its manual and found there is a setting for snow.
And it shows!
This picture i just took here on 'crocus hill'. And i say just, because sitting here my ears still feel rosy. It is not very cold and i was walking around without; scarf, toque and gloves. Of course it is still below zero Celsius, consequently the rosy ears.

Blogging

Yesterday, i did go for a walk. Walking for me is always the most relaxing way to go on an outing. And it hasn't snowed for a while. With winter boots it is still easy to walk.

I just hear on the radio, that we are Yukon's hotspot; -2 C.

But what i was going to say, i am so busy blogging while on the computer, i barely have time to write my own post.
It is wonderful world!
Both the blogging world,
and our planet Earth.
Thank you all, for all the photos and stories!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

River Otter tracks


Yes?
I guess.
Thank you Andy Fion

Friday, November 28, 2008

Horses


There are many trails that lead to the '919 pond'. And this morning i would like to check out the animal tracks on the Mendenhall river again. As the crow flies it is 4km. Along my new trail and then following the meadows it will be 5.5 km. But the trail is rough and only half done.
Along the power line access it is 7 km. In the summer i bike the highway which is, even with the Fire smart shortcut, longer yet. While i am contemplating which way to go, Don offers to drive me to the 911 sign on the highway. Good!

He drops me off at sun rise , the light is beautiful, at 10.15 am. The peak of Middle mountain catches the sun and is brightly colored, clouds around it and blue sky above.
I am probably at the river at 10.30 am. Ah wonderful, the tracks are still there, maybe a rabbit crossed them here or there.
I take lots of photos to have the tracks identified.
Which way to go? first i follow them left (East). Soon there is over flow, it filled up the tracks, which makes them stand out. I see that the animal checked something out in the bank.
As i am going East i hear: "tingeling a ling" behind me. The Horses! People from Champagne have grazing leases here for their pack horses.
When i have to climb over a tree I decide to go West first and check out the horses.
There is lots of overflow and i have to go on the bank at places, where i can actually take shortcuts,(the bends in the river).
The horses are in a meadow South of the river. They are so friendly, they probably think i come and bring them hay like their owners. I have nothing more to offer then the marsh grass. One lets me stroke him.

Back to the 'otter trail'.
Whatever it is, it is a smart animal, not following the meandering river, but.... the easiest route i guess, along the river.
Sliding marks over 2 meters long on the river, shorter through the forest or deeper snow on ponds.
I am loving it following these tracks, it must be an Otter, I feel playful like one.
Before noon I am back where I started on the river to have my lunch.

It might take 3 hours to ski back. The distances i gave you, i didn't figure them out till after.
It safer to measure time by what kind of terrain any way. I choose the 7 km route, which means i will be on a broken in trail, by skidoos and other off terrain vehicles.
The going is very good! I dread long straight stretches, but for no reason. The first piece is straight like an arrow across the pond.
But this pond i love so much, i stand still often to enjoy. Then there is a good bush road, then a little ways along the highway, next the 'Old Alaska highway', a little bush road and finally straight like an arrow again on the power line.
Because the skidoos have flatten everything out I go fast like an arrow too and am home in less then 2 hours. Amazing!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Natural Levee

Today i strap on the skies again, and wear almost the same as yesterday.
Because i did not want to get cold again. Of course i was overdressed and started transpiring, which is a no no too.
But not to worry it is only minus 5C.

Today i brought my watch. It takes me 1 hour to reach the closest Mendenhall river meadow. That is, along the way i still work on the trail. Last week i started this new trail through the woods. Now I am widening it out by removing dead branches on the spruce trees, removing small standing dead trees, and removing small dead trees on the ground. some time in the future I will bring my little saw, and will cut a few life branches and some small trees and bigger dead fall. That is my life as a trail maker.

Coming to the meadow, the sky is beautiful, different blues and all sort of clouds. The sun doesn't want to get out of the clouds. And i take no photos.
My goal today is finding a natural trail in direction of the '911 pond'. I have it on an aerial photograph.
I go West and follow high ground through very open forest, to the next meadow. AH this is a big one, I cross it in its full length, South-West. Sure enough there at the end, are three openings. According to the aerial photo, one should continue.
So it does, i think it is an old shore line from the river, it is an old natural levee.

Thank you Robert for saying; "getting caught up in the mystery!" Yes, that is what i love.

The mystery of this natural path; when a river goes through it throws up a levee higher then itself. And, i surmise, that because it is higher then the surrounding ground, it was to dry for trees to grow on.

foot note: Instead of the word 'levee' i was using the word 'dike'. I realized my mistake as i was reading a geology book. I corrected it in this post but i might have used the word 'dike' before, where i meant 'levee'. (My first language and surroundings being Dutch, i hope you forgive me my mistake.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

River Otter


This is last weeks picture of the Mendenhall river. Today, some 3km from here, Don and i saw some very interesting tracks. On the ice of the river is one inch of loose snow. It is very good for sliding! And that's what this animal seemed to have done. 2pairs of tracks and a 2 meter sliding mark 4 prints again and again 2 meters of sliding. All this for a longer distance then we checked out.
Don (who does know everything) figured it is a River Otter. And at home i found Andy Fyon's website and that kind of confirmed it.

This morning we left early and had a wonderful time skidoing. I didn't wear enough though. One day i will give you a list of many many layers of clothing i wear when on the skidoo. Any way i came back frozen ,spend 2 hours recovering. Then my son phones....

Oh my... You're are the first one i tell. Typing is easier. My throat ceases up thinking i would have to say the words.
He is in his last year of high school now, and just applied to SAIT in Calgary.
That is very very far away from here!

And guess what Steven D. Farmer says about Otters:
-Surrender- 'let go of control'
That's the teaching of an Otter when it crosses your path.
Too much!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thorton W. Burgess

My favorite children's writer, he has a series of 'the adventures of...' books.
in those books a central figure is Farmer Brown.
Well today i met farmer Brown.
It is only -5 C. a good day for skidoing. Don and i set off, following a coyote trail on the Power line access. I am wondering where the coyote goes, it seems to go many kilometers , without interruption. As we are not really following its trail, i can't tell you what it is up to. And Thorton doesn't write about coyotes.
Don and i are actually heading to the farmers field, to see if there is Bison tracks.
It is a long way through the forest. Many years ago we came upon the field by accident. It is a gorgeous field. Somewhere on the map beside 'nipple mnt.'
The view is totally panoramic. The mountains to the South, looking straight into the Sifton Range, and the Saint Elias Range.
We cruise through the fields, crossing a pond, we do see some 'old'(days ago) sign.
We do see fresh Ptarmigan or Grouse sign;

As i am writing:4.30 pm. Don is off with the skidoo again in a glorious evening sky, blue with broad bands of pink.

The birds seemingly slept here last night. There is little holes in the snow, at the bottom 'grouse' droppings. Lots of tracks. And some other tracks and black scat an inch long. Is this where the Coyote went?

As we cross the lake again i see a truck at the lone cabin. And movement, I catch up to Don and we decide to introduce ourselves. Indeed it is farmer Brown.
While Don and he do most the talking I enjoy the incredible view, i've been on top of a dozen of Mountains i can see, but there are many more that are calling me.( what arrogance, who am i.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

The short cut

Is coming along pretty good!
I am on my way to Jo-Jo Lake.
I left here before noon and was going to time myself to see how long things take, but so often what i plan, doesn't work out the way i thought it would.
Anyway it is -20 C and i put on the skies. Following the route i walked a few days ago (see post Fallen trees).
The trail i made through the forest, still needs some work, but is ski able (walking pace). This is as far i got last week and now i continue where Jane and i went that Saturday (see post Mendenhall river, Nov.15,2008). There is a strong smell of mud in the meadow, but no sign of wetness. I hop onto the river again, and where there maybe was a Dipper, i do see a bird fly away. No open water here though. Around the bend is one tiny opening in the river, i wonder if birds or animals keep it open. There are tracks around it.
I go past where Jane and i turned around. In my pocket i carry a little drawing of all the bends in the river, taken from Google Earth. And amazingly on the spot i expected, there is a little channel going onto a meadow on the South side of the river.
In this meadow there is fairly fresh sign of Bison.
At the end of the meadow i turn around, there is no obvious sign of where the next meadow is. I leave that adventure for another day.

On the way home, when i cross the highway i see a car parked close by. They drive towards me and lo and behold it is Sylvie, who i met years ago with Easter on the Summit (yes, the big Easter snow gathering). She and her partner(yes?) Michel where watching a Hawk Owl.

By the way, I heard lots of woodpeckers again by the river, it seems that every peninsula (folds in the bends of the river) is home to one of them.

Anyway when we stand there talking on the side of the road, we start shivering and i ask them to drive me home for a cup of tea. We've got a deal. Wonderful!

Down Town

Nov 19&20 2008
With that cold weather, the Yukon River is trying to freeze up. Which creates a lot of fog down town Whitehorse. And all that fog makes beautiful hoar frost.
Whitehorse is like a winter wonderland, In the evening the streetlights highlighting all those winter wonder trees.

Barb's fen


Tuesday Nov. 18,2008

Grosbeak

Tuesday Nov 18, 2008
Coming home from my outing this very cold day, I was greeted by a Grosbeak sitting on my doorstep. I have a porch around the front door, a very pleasant place with big windows on the east side and open on the south side. Right by the door sits a Grosbeak, very calmly, not moving, even when i come close. I am afraid it is a casualty, that didn't quite know his way out, only the chickadees are that smart.

Erroneously i think i should help it a little bit, My Goodness, as soon as i pick it up (tenderly) it screams madly, i let it go in a fright, it starts rolling around like a top, screaming. I try to somehow help it calm down. Only when i put it right by the door again, it relaxes. i sneak inside, only closing the outside door, leaving the inside door open, so even more warm air can get to it. Because i think,
that was the bird's idea.
An hour or so later, i forgot about it, opened the door, and off it flew, obviously recovered. Amazing!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fairy Shrimp



I think they won't make it much longer in the wiggly state.

I did a little bit of research on the Internet, and found that indeed these creatures are Fairy Shrimp. They live in vernal pools, these are pools that dry up periodically. Well our Lake here doesn't dry up, but does freeze up totally. And that prevents fish from living in it. Which in order makes it suitable for Fairy Shrimp. Last week (see post:Giant Water Bug) they where still copulating, some of them clasped together; laying eggs for the winter in the mud.
This time, which the picture doesn't show, only some where still alive and wiggling,
They seemed to be hanging around the hole, which was totally frozen over today, but still had some light coming in.

-35 Celcius


Today we woke up and down by the outhouse it was -35 C. I say by the outhouse, because the thermometer attached to the house will always say more.
Hmmm.. maybe i don't go skiing today.
The sun is brilliant today, like always in cold weather, the sky dark blue.
At noon i went for walk (see next(above) two posts).
On the way back, on the Fire smart. The fog from the mendenhall river had lifted and created this scenery. Which would be around 1.30 pm. When i come home it has warmed up to -25 C.
Already the end of November, only one month away from the longest night.
Now looking out of the window,3.45 pm, the sun has gone down west of this mountain in the dip. It has skimmed across it for the last hour.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fallen trees



There are lots of fallen trees in the forest here, but i had never seen it quite like this.

Today i went for a walk again. Although the skiing is very good. Yesterday i skied the Beach Trail, which is a trail with several challenges, i found it to be rather easy. Now i wonder if not only the conditions are good, but probably my skills have improved!

Back to today; I had a great desire to check the shortcut to the meadow in Saturday's photo (Nov 15, Mendenhall river).It is a foggy day and going in the direction of the river means descending in the fog even more. It is beautiful though, quiet yet again. I follow the Fire Smart. Where the grasses grow, and it's here i pick some of the mystery grass. (see next (last) post).
I will turn my route into a ski trail and at the bottom of the hill coming into the trees i choose a route straight ahead. The actual trail goes either left or right, which is, even with my improved skills, hard for me. Turning while flying down hill through trees.
I cross the highway, where there is a little dam in the ditch. I also use this spot in the summer while biking. Either way the less extreme the dips and raises, the better.
Crossing the Highway, advancing straight South, through 'uncharted' forest.
I left a little ribbon, where i descended. I walk with my compass in hand to keep a rather straight line. The going is good. Somewhere along the way i took the picture of the fallen trees. It is only a third of a kilometer, through the forest. The trail will be, i estimate, half a kilometer. And then there is the meadow!
Tomorrow i might ski it.

Hordeum jubatum

Jubilant i am, to discover that the umbrella like grass on Kip's field is...Really Foxtail. Which always kind of has a bad name, getting stuck in a dog's throat and such. Seeing it around here jubilantly, doing no harm. I will call it by it's proper name Hordeum jubatum. (see photo a few days back, Nov 11, 'so quiet'.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mendenhall river


Skiing with Jane Vincent.
It is a beautiful sunny day, somewhere around minus 8 C.
We leave from her house, cross the Alaska Highway and go onto the bluff. She is breaking trail, the conditions just perfect. From the bluff we take the trail towards the Mendenhall river. And hang a left to follow the meadows for a while.
The trail goes from meadow to meadow following little natural dikes. Both of us have been here many times, but it is always a puzzle again. We turn South crossing the second meadow we come upon, to find the river.

In the photo you see this meadow on our way back. Looking South into the Sifton Range, you see 'jozina maria mnt.', 'nipple mnt.', and 'the fire tower mnt'. The white ones in the back, yet, unnamed.

We both recognize where we come out, and Jane finds a little trail she cut long time ago, to get to the river. Easy as pie! With our skis on we drop onto the river. ( easy for her, i follow and actually easy for me too). The river is frozen over and all ready covered with an inch of snow.

I love the river! The way it meanders. Where it bends back on itself, i don't really notice it , till i look to my side through the trees and see Jane skiing the opposite direction, just 20 feet away.

We come to open water in the middle of the river. It is what i am afraid of; it is a flowing river and this time of year the channel could be insufficiently frozen to carry us. But up to the opening, the ice appears quite thick and i even lay on my stomach on my skis to have a drink; delicious.

At the next opening, Jane sees a bird flying off; a Dipper maybe.
Here we turn around.

At home i look at google earth, wondering if this is a nice route to ski to Jo-Jo Lake. Maybe. As always; lots of country at my doorstep to be explored. This way
bypassing the 911 pond. It would make it more attractive, being able to start skiing right from the house.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Giant Water Bug


After photographing this bug underneath the ice, i checked Peterson's Field Guide for Insects and found that this bug could be a Giant water Bug. Well i believe it, sounds true enough.
Please let me know if i am correct.
The little 'fishes' swimming around it, are not fishes, i always called them shrimp. According to the field guide that could be true too. I hope they are Fairy Shrimp (Anostraca).
The Giant Water Bug a Belostoma.

So much to learn.
First this morning i went to , where the water flows into 'moose skull lake'.
The first part definitely looks like a creek, but that is only 100 feet or so, then it becomes more like a wetland. Now i have already spoken about many wetlands around here. Today i am totally confused again what to name them; bog, marsh and now fen.

I would like to call this place 'barb's fen'. Remember my friend Jose, her name, (it's never simple) is Barbara. And her last name; van de Ven, ven meaning, you got it; fen.

An incredible area, which i have described in a few of last week's posts. I explored it some more for a ski trail, but past the first flat open spot it is very uneven to get to the next ones. And from the last one to get to a trail (which we tried, almost getting lost) is still a ways.

Nevertheless happy, i now return to the lake. The ice bubbling before i ski onto it.
There are all sort of sounds, cracking really. Today i am not too worried though. This is not a very deep lake as it is and the overflow frozen now. Even if i would fall through the overflow ice, underneath it will be another layer.
I am drawn to all the stars in the ice. It turns out most of them are frozen solid, like the one in the picture. I do find one with water. There are so many of those little shrimp, pale brown and pale orange, average 1 cm long. When i stir up the hole with my ski pole, they seem to increase in number. I can't get with my pole to the bottom of the lake. I kneel and try my hand; the ice i am on, seems only one inch thick, then there is an inch of water and then there is ice again, which seems at least 2 inches thick. There is a beautiful round little hole through it, too small for my hand. Through it i can clearly see the bottom of the lake, which is kind of a white mud. Now very excited i want to find a bigger hole. I found none, but did find this one with the water bug. In Peterson's book it says; they sometimes fly and are attracted to lights. Well this one definitely likes to hang around close to the opening (light). The lake is covered with snow except for these 'stars'. No luck for flying today, as his hole has clear ice covering it. Peterson also tells us; it bites!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Takhini river

The moon. As i am sitting outside in the dark (uhum, on the outhouse), suddenly i see lights in the forest, lighting up the snow. It gets brighter and brighter, the moon is up!

Yesterday i went to town;
Things here had cleared up since the fog, now i find myself descending back into the fog. Before the Takhini river crossing i drove into it. Right where i want to go for a walk.
I park my car on the east side of the bridge (Alaska Highway). I actually never really went for a walk here, and look at the river where it will be best to walk.
I choose the East bank , walking down stream, North.
The Sounds! Ice floes are flowing down the river, crashing into the frozen shore line ice and frozen islands. What an interesting sound... you gotta listen!
The sight is even more surreal. In the mist. The river is dark green, the ice floes look like sores on skin. Some are brown, some the color of the river, they all have white frizzled edges, and white spots on them.
Today nobody is winning, the river neither melting nor freezing over.
I walk the shoreline for one bend (an hour) On my way back I climb the highest bank, and see that i am not far from where i started, and go back in a straight line.
It has cleared up a bit. Things are very interesting today. There is no wind and it feels warm. Here on the bank i have a feeling, that if you would tell me ; this is a warm, plus 20 degree C, place, a forest covered in white... fluff, i would believe it.
What is that? Have any of you snow lovers ever had that feeling?

Ah what a day, when i come to the city, there is no power, wonderful, quite peaceful, people talking in the streets.
The river just keeps on flowing. Different then the Takhinni, the Yukon river here is a solid blue line meandering through the wide, white frozen river. Beautiful!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So quiet


As you can tell i love snow.
This picture was taken in Kip's field. Kip is our next door neighbour.I stayed so close to home, because my tailbone was still hurting. (it is much better now).
What a beautiful space this field is. The sky was incredible, deep blue with pink clouds.
I had a hard time taking this picture, because bending was still uncomfortable. I wanted that grass in with the umbrellas. What is it? The darker dried seed head is Northern Yarrow.

(see answer Nov 17, 2008)

This morning.
There are deer tracks in our yard. And again everything is so quiet, this morning sounds: The wingbeat of the Magpie; very quitly. And soft chattering of the Grey Jays.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Above the clouds


This morning it was foggy outside and very still.
I was wondering; one day i will post sounds on this blog. I was listening to the fluttering of the wings of a chickadee.
Looking up i noticed that the fog is not that thick when you look up, that's when i decided to go for the next adventure.
It is evening now and i am still sore.

Skiing up the 'fire smart trail', going on the bush road around 'moose skull lake'.
As it is at least -15 C the skiing is very good, I never use wax on, to be waxed skies. Without wax i find the colder temperature favorable to ski uphill.
In the swamp i meet 3 skidoers. Allard thank you for breaking trail for me! Past the swamp the trail gets rather hilly and on steep sections to fishtail up is easier on snowmobile tracks.
What i am saying the conditions are very good. Which is the reason i will make it all the way up 'maria mnt.' I do leave my skies behind on the last esker.

I am writing this entry in bits and pieces; i am very sore!

On the last esker is where the trail ends anyway, This winter i might finish it.
There are fairly fresh Moose (or Elk) tracks in the dark dip before the mountain.
As i climbing up the steep mountain side, the fog seems to get thicker. I wonder if it is all in vain, maybe by the time i get to the top the cloud has risen.
In the snow, sometimes a foot thick with a crust i break through, i sit on a rock or stump, every 5 minutes.

The snow is gorgeously looking up here, in patterns. And the hoar frost is thick.
I am close to blue sky, but still in the cloud. A weak sun shining through the clouds.
On the top i follow what looks like a porcupine track. Looking into the Sifton Range
there is no clouds. Taye lake is in the fog.

Finally i reach the very top; I am in the blue sky and when i turn around to the South. Tyler, Kelvin and Bratnober are slivers sticking out above the Cloud.
It is fantastic. And i stay around till my toes are frozen. The mountains come out even more. And then there is a sun dog! Middle mnt. comes out too.

I slide back into the fog. I have always enjoyed this sliding, but maybe not so early in the season, last week i ripped my pants. Today i hit my tail bone, and that's why i am so sore now.

Back on skies; i don't feel my tail bone that much, but do feel more tired. I decide to take the short cut across the lake. The over flow looks different again. And there are lots of star like holes in the ice. Is this all musk rat activity?

When i cross i hear and later see a crack, hmmm... maybe best to go around and stay close to the shore. I end up in thick slush. And never really get all the ice off the bottom of my skies, I am too tired, and figure i be home soon, mostly downhill.
Of course it is more tiring to ski with ice on your skies.

Ah my husband! He must have guessed my predicament and comes to pick me up with the skidoo. I gladly accept the invitation. Uhmm... I should have know. He is a madman, and at the end without letting me off he takes me on a superfast spin on the driveway.
I think i die. I scream and he laughs.

Loving all of it, I lay, played out, on the sun room floor while peeling of clothes.

Sun dog


Ice crystals in the air lit up by the sun.
I actually don't know if this phenomena is called a sun dog, but it sure is beautiful.

Friday, November 7, 2008

overflow


'moose skull lake'
Today i set out on skies. I got back last night and there is more snow. Early this morning the stars were out and i knew it would be a beautiful day and so it is.
I am drawn again to my 'new' favorite spot; the creek flowing into 'moose skull lake'.
I would like to name this short little creek.
As my mind wanders, searching for a name. I am reminded of last nights 'wild' experience;

Driving home with Alexander on the Alaska Highway, we both are startled by Elk on the highway. Lots of them! It is like a wall of brown bodies. The roads are slippery and i am very aware of not to over-react. As i brake careful, pumping, i head straight for the Elk. Certainly i am going to hit them. Luckily for us the elk move swiftly en masse, and an opening appears, in the middle of the road. A big bull the last one in the middle. Actually we never even get close to hitting them.
It was a close call though.

Safer to be on skies!
Anyway; Direction 'moose skull lake' , fish tailing up the 'fire-smart', sliding at perfect speed towards the lake. Uhm, there is overflow on the lake, in the middle there are definitely wet patches, i stay on the side of the lake. I expect lots of water close to the creek, but there is none. I brought a clipper, and clip some willows that over hang and grow in the creek. Most are dead branches. I remove some dead spruce stems that have fallen over the creek. Quite easily i get to ski to the meadow.
Alas, no camera again, i left it in my pack, which i left at the lake, where i started to clear a ski-trail. it is an amazing area though and when I name it i hope to have a picture for you.
I ski back on the north side of the lake ; see photo. It seems the Lynx is not afraid to cross. By the little inlet, i have a trail towards 'maria mnt.'
Right underneath the drumlins (or esker) i find this snow draping the willows.
I climb up the esker and connect with another trail, which i follow all the way home. There are wonderful descents. Skiing is Joy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Snow and Sun


Just to give you a quick look at what it is like out here this week.
I am off to town today for a few days, while it is totally glorious out here.
The picture doesn't even show half of it.
There are crystals in the snow everywhere, birds flying of and on to the bird feeder; chickadees, grosbeaks, magpies and juncos.
The trail on the picture is made by the coyote, a regular visitor over the last few winters. The one-eyed one.
Sometimes a branch lets go of the hoarfrost, or snow load, which makes a shower of snow. It is melting of the roof, which makes for long icicles.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Surprise

Saturday Jose picked the title, today Nov.3 2008, it's a surprising title,
as surprises popped out everywhere.
First, after a few days of snow showers. I woke up with the sun shining in my eyes. What a surprising world; after a few grey days everything bathing in sunlight, the snow 6 inches thick.
Yesterday, surprise meant, that Saturday, Jose and i found a place close to the house, so incredibly beautiful and i didn't know it was there.
Today i went there again, and when i come out of the thick forest, covered in snow, as i step on a path, miraculously Margriet( my wonderful neighbour) appears on skies. We are happy to see each other and continue our travels together.
The last surprise more humbling, as i read my last post, i realize i didn't even name our catch. A rabbit. And surprisingly it was delicious!

About what i initially called 'Surprise':
Saturday, for our last walk (for now) together Jose would like to go to the little lake. Somehow we don't stop there, but keep going. I lead her to where the water comes into the lake. In the summer this is a very wet area, and i have never really explored it. Today is the day! First there is a little creek, we walk on the ice and work through and around the bent over willows. The creek becomes more open, and entices us to go on. There is yellow green ice, overflow. An open meadow is next.
(no photos, an excuse everyday;today, i left it in the van and the van is in town)
I'll try to describe it. Grass is sticking out through the snow, hummocks with bushes everywhere, dead trees, their smooth grey trunks, sticking out, little pools, frozen, with overflow, or covered in snow. Birds singing, and the cougar tracks.
Rabbit tracks in the surrounding forest. And North of us the mountains.

I am unstoppable and give Jose the feeling; that we must be totally lost now. Luckily i have her home before dark. Today i went there again to see if there is option for a path (an easy way to get there and back).

The overflow totally changed, on the lake getting close to the creek, the snow i walk on feels soft somehow, and suddenly i am sloshing through water on the ice under the snow. As i follow the creek, all has changed, but equally beautiful.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hallowe'en

I wonder which is the hour of the witches.
In the late afternoon these two witches here set out to check the rabbit snares, again.
As i walk towards the snare i did set, i decide i will dismantle it. It is not my thing. As i am taking my snare, Jose calls out there is something in her snare.
Well i won't go into details, but these two witches are not as brave as they look. But we deal with it in the best manner we can, and tonight (Saturday) we will have it in the pot.
It is a humbling experience, And i give thanks to the animal several times in several ways. A little wiser again, every time i will have meat on my plate, i hope i am little more grateful.

Mendenhall river

Oct.28 2008
It is snowing today. We drive with the van towards the bluff on the highway,(2km South of here) Park our van off road and find the trail towards the Mendenhall river.
It is a beautiful trail through the thick Spruce forest, through a meadow , onto the little 'dike'. And there is the river! it is almost frozen over today. In the middle there is little openings. The water black, the ice white with snow and on the edge of the water beautiful grey patterns. The river here is easy to follow, as the beavers has been very busy. We follow the meandering river and some times take a short cut as the river bends back on it self.
In the forest on these strips of land, we follow a Three-toed Woodpecker. He lets us come very close as he is hammering away.
In the meantime snow is coming down in Christmas style. And i have to pull jose away from this magical land, as the van might be snowed in and the light is fading.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cladonia borealis

I am not sure if this lichen is a cladonia bellidiflora. I think it is safe to say that it is a cladonia (cup lichen), apparently there are 70 species of cladonia.(in B.C. What about the Yukon?
Thanks to Cicero, I think (Nov.22 2008) that this might be a Cladonia borealis.


Early in the morning we set of to check the rabbit snares. No luck again. When you've been following my blog, you know we set the last snares at the Birch tree forest.

Will be continued..

Here i am. Well it does take 5o min to get to that spot, so when we find lots of fresh rabbit trails in the forest, but no rabbit in the snare. They are laughing at us!
From that spot we take the compass and go cross country towards 'maria mountain'.
The forest is open and easy to get through. Amids the poplar are big burned trees from a fire long time ago, we use them to align ourselves. They are straight black stems, with here and there brown/orange colors showing.
Underneath the mountain is 'moose trail'. we follow it north, as to go straight up the mountain on this side, is too steep with the snow on it. At the end of 'moose trail', (well i am sure the Moose itself does continue). But we take a man made trail up the side hill and leave it when we are on the North side of the mountain. I have never climbed up it this way, and wonder how thick the forest will be. Ah yes there are Alders, they can halter one, but here they are not too thick. We weave our way up, using the compass again to go South, as we can't see the mountain from being in the forest. A beautiful forest it is ; scattered big Birch Trees, scattered Boulders.
And while scrambling up Jose finds the bright red lichen. According to the literature, the bellidiflora grows on decaying conifers, as we didn't check what it is growing on, i have to find it again and give it a closer look(what's new).
The views are beautiful, even on this cloudy day, the mountains appear and disappear and only straight up is a little bit of blue sky.
Close to the top, we encounter a rock face, we love it, but go around it to get on top.
Ah what revelation! to reach the top, even the sun decides to peak through the clouds. We build a fire on the rocky top and have lunch.
It is interesting with the changing cloud coverage, how it changes the color of the white snow.
When are toes are frozen (we are still in hiking boots opposed to winter boots).
we descend on the South face. At places sliding down on my bum, i like it this way, but should bring a pad as i do rip my pants today.
Back close to the forest, lower down, we follow a lynx trail(at least that's what i think it is) It goes exactly in the direction we want to go, sometimes it takes short cuts where we take the trail. In front of "moose skull lake' it goes straight to the lake. Jose wasn't to keen on crossing ice again , but the Lynx entices her.
Coming through the swamp is another wonderful story, I was never there this time of year, a frozen little creek meanders through it. When you look, it could be that the water level was once higher, and we find an 'island' which closely resembles the swans nest we found the day before. Abandoned as the water receded.
We cross the lake safely!
Close to home we reset the snares we brought back with us from earlier today.
And that's where i am off right now!

Swans nest


Sunday, Oct 26 2008
That glorious day(see post below), when Jose and i where still sleeping, Don drove to work in a blizzard.
As i wrote yesterday; the day turned out very beautiful.

Finding the Swans nest: we cross the big pond and on the South side in between the marsh grass in one of the little ponds, there is a little island, 4 square metres. I brush of the snow, uncovering what you see, piled up grasses, with feathers and light brown, fairly big, droppings.
From the nest we continue towards the Mendenhal river, crossing different forms of frozen vegetation in the marsh.
Going over the little natural 'dike' which is densely forested. and there is the river,
an open flow of water in the middle. It is very peaceful, we spend a long time enjoying it all.
On the way back Jose pronounces it a place so beautiful, you can't describe it. Now we cross the pond straight across, there in the middle she has a different experiences altogether; one of horror, afraid to fall through the ice. Luckily for both of us she reaches the other side safely. The ice doesn't even make a sound. Which by the way it might do even when the ice is stronger.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A day of Glory


The '911 pond' has been calling me. I thought; why, since the swans have long left. And i knew we might be able to walk on the ice.
Once we where there i knew Why.
We park the van on the highway, and walk through the dark forest. It's like coming out of the tunnel, when we step out in the open. The yellow grass, the pond white and the sky blue. The grass has a dusting of snow on it and we walk on the ice underneath it. The pond ice is solid too, and full of crystals. Jose and i cross it close to the edge. In the midlle is a muskrat house, with open water around it, we stay away from it.
I know where i want to go; to the swans nest. I walk to the spot where i usually saw them. Sure enough - see picture -

Jose

Oct.25 2008
Thank you Jose!
All these new pictures you see, are made by her. I am always easily overwhelmed, and am very grateful,that while entertaining, the guest takes the photos.
I made my self extra busy,with mastering the art of trapping.
Early in the morning we set of to check our traps. As the frost bites through our clothes, we figure it is at least -15 C. nevertheless beautiful. There is nothing in our snares and we take them all home. In the afternoon, I choose one snare I will set. In the spring I found a place close to my Birch trees (see stories in May/June) where there were so many tracks,it seemed the rabbits had a party. It does takes us 50 minutes to get to that spot, which means setting aside 2 hours every other day to check the snares.
The spot is close to the little meadow where I always imagine Moose coming together. Today the places is magical, but no Moose tracks. It is here where Jose takes the photos I posted. I sit at the edge of the meadow on a bunch of dead dry willow branches, it actually makes a comfortable seat. I am out of the wind and in the sun. Overlooking the meadow where the grass bends in the breeze. Around the meadow are willow and surrounding the willows are poplar and spruce. In the transition from Willows to Spruce forest, this fallen over, long time ago, Spruce.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rabbit snares

Today there is a stiff wind blowing, as if on the beach or on the top of a mountain, here in the Yukon at least.
But I am in town, and like to work on my blog. With a visitor around the house,time flies.
Tuesday and Wednesday we did several short walks. Our main focus to set some rabbit shares. Jose knows how to cook it. And i phoned Garry; how to make a snare, how to set it and how to give thanks to the animal.(Thanks Garry).

Last night; Around 5pm, it is still light , but we decide to take flash lights, which is a wise decision as it gets dark pretty fast.
And we do have to search about a little for our snares.
Earlier that morning we did find the perfect rabbit trail, and it is there that we find our snares are disturbed. Maybe next week we will make; one snare on the perfect spot. For now I doubt we catch anything, which is totally OK with me.

Our other walks all included finding trails and later setting snares. We did and up, on one walk, at Moose Skull lake, which is frozen, i stood on the ice, walked out, 3metres from the shore, some cracking sounds send me rushing back. The lake is pretty shallow, not to worry.
Jose marveled about how picture perfect our little lake is. We ended up at Elfin creek, which flows out of the lake. Magical as ever. Under the ice we here the rushing water, and at some of the little falls, there is still open water. This year even here are the high bush cranberry. Now on the bare branches. The bark bright red. This plant is also called Crampbark, and said to be good for menstrual cramps, i wonder if it has to with the color of the bark.
What a powerful place.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stony Creek



Tonight Orionids meteor shower is expected to peak, according to my calander. This morning when i stepped
outside Orion was right above in the side, and falling star past through the sky.
Happy days I tell you. Yesterday morning we set off, to go up the Stony Creek trail. This walk is described in; Hikes & Bikes.
There is snow on our path, but hiking boots are still perfect for the conditions. At the end of the day mine were quite wet and i will have to put some grease
on again.
The weather is beautiful, after ten minutes we have to take of some layers. Only at the very top many hours later, we have to put some things back on.
Again there is many tracks of animals on the trail, and Barb wants to follow them all. What seems to be a wolf track goes ahead of us on and of almost all the way to the
top. Right above the tree line a Moose track crosses our path and above that there are only coyote tracks, some kind of bird and little rodents like mice.

The most beautiful prints in the snow come from the grass. Here and there are tufts of grass, their spikes (what's the word for the flowering stem of grass?)
making circles, in the snow, when the wind blew stronger then it did now.

On the way up barb also loves the shapes and bright colors of the tree roots from, long time ago, fallen over trees.
I always feel that, here in the Yukon, at least, what ever havvock Nature creates always looks beautiful.

For me the most friendly place is the tree line again, And what i love most is the rugged world above it. Today the sky is blue and the views fantastic.

On the way back we get a better look of the creek, looking down in it, Often we walk out to the edge of the bank, and that's were i took the picture above.
I zoomed it in, so what you see is a roaring creek among big boulders, the sticks probably big tree trunks.

We have some fun with the rocks in the clay bank. Is there really gold here, or is the work of the gold miner in vain?
We encouter several structures that indicate small scale goldmining.

At 5 pm when we come to the van the sun is still warm.

Later on at home it is Alexander that tells is that the sky is still clear and the stars are spectecular!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sand and ice


A family of 5 at Mendenhall Landing

Today we drive out to Kusawa Lake. The road is actually pretty good,i don't think this road is maintained and sometimes this winter it will become
four wheel drive. It is lightly snowing today. We stop at the Landing, before i stop Jose spots Swans at the far end. See photo; two adults and 3 cygnets! there are also two ducks. As i stand around to take pictures the Swans fly back up the Mendenhall river honking loudly
as we stay a minute ,the honking resumes, and the Swans fly over in South Eastern direction.
The drive along the Takhini River is as always beautiful, here at this river, there's often Dippers in the winter, but today we saw
them at Stony Creek where we went to get water earlier.
At the lake we do the beach walk, where the creek comes out things are always different, Today we can easily cross, there is many little channels, bordered with ice. The sand forms beautiful patterns.
Chat, chat, chat, we are home at 4pm.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Red Squirrel midden

Good morning! The half moon is shining over a sprinkle of fresh snow covering Fridays snow.
With all this snow came my friend; Jose van de Ven, from Regina Saskatchewan, where it was 17 C. yesterday.
She comes here to walk wild places with me.
First she walks around the place in awe, We do get out for a real walk, the regular for me , but I am very happy to share it all.
In the fresh snow we see many tracks of the little animals.
Thank you all for the response on the squirrel storage place. I also did some reading up on wikkepedia. Apparently red squirrels make food caches underneath tree trunks away from the source of the food. The cache i saw was old (I like to find out
how to determine ;how old). And included many caches for Spruce cones. The field created by the left overs(non food part of the cone)
This is all is now called a squirrel midden.
By the way; Moose Skull is frozen over again, in a that beautiful blue green color.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saltflats

Oct. 15 2008
Last day of Fall weather! and a beautiful one. Mary and i met at 9 am at the Takhini Saltflats. Blue sky and pink clouds above the barren ground. All color of the flats have disappeared. the first pond is frozen. The water of the second one, by lack of other colors, looks an incredible light blue green. Coming towards it looking through the bleached dead fall.
There's is some ducks in the pond, Oh, I forgot which ones.
In the distance on the other side we see something white. Ducks? and we imagine all sort of things. Till Mary resolves the mystery when at the the third pond we see white foam at the edges. There is more waterbirds, but they are weary of us.

The weather man predicts snow, but on this sunny walk it seems unlikely, not so ,next morning the world is white and wet snow falls all day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

squirrels



This is a squirrel...place. Please help me out, if you know a name for this phenomena.
Around here it is a common sight. For apparently many, many years the squirrels have been bringing their spruce cone harvest here.
I took this photo this afternoon, on the north side of our 'crocus hill'.
The Spruce trees you see, are actually alive, you can't see their green tops.
on their branches hangs Old Man's Beard.

Yesterday i went for an early morning walk, today a late afternoon one. Both times
the weather was incredible. It has been above zero all that time.
Plus 6 C, i believe.

I did actually set off earlier this afternoon, it was so still and soft, suddenly i felt one drop. Somewhere in the woods here i still have some logs for my very future sauna, i lifted them of the ground, so i can move them this winter, with a sleigh.
By the time i was done more drops came down, i returned home to bring in the laundry.

Then at 3pm the sun came out, and i set out for 'moose skull lake'.
Yes, it is totally not frozen!
I checked out some cranberries, but you know, what ever the reason, this year lots fell off. Most years they remain on the bushes till next summer.
From the cranberry patch i went straight up the back of 'crocus hill' and that's where I came up the ancient squirrel nest.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Salmon fishing



Just before i took pictures of Eagles, i saw people walking around with incredible big cameras, i laughed, erroneously, at the sight of it, now standing here amidst the eagles i can see their point. I wonder if i could have gotten the perfect shot.

Oct.12 2008
In the middle of the night, Don wakes me up to see the Northern lights.
when we wake up again it is raining. We drive around town a bit; one of Don's favorite pastimes, buy a fishing licence, have coffee. And finally we settle at the Chilkat river. Here is where i was supposed to make breakfast but first i walk out in the river on a spit, towards some eagles that just sit in the low water. After that, i climb the rock across the road. It is the second time now, that i come upon a little trail, made by a kindred spirit. I like that; somebody going nowhere,just exploring.
Actually it does not and up nowhere; It is a lovely spot overlooking the river, and as i work myself through the bushes, i see more and more Highbush Cranberries. I go down to get a bag and pick over a litre of berries. Don must be getting hungry, not really, we both don't really care and snack if we feel like it. And after i visit him a bit, no fish, i walk towards the eagles again.

It is at the Chilkoot river, where i make, what is now called, lunch.
As always we have a good time at this beautiful river, but no fish.

Somewhere in the afternoon we will have to go back, as we want to be home for thanksgiving. I don't want tell you again that i was laughing at people, what a nasty person i am, but Don and i always try to stay away from the crowds. And it is interesting to see how they congregate. On our way home we drive past 'the crowds'
And finally settle on a spot where to try a few casts on more time. I am not telling
where this spot is, as it is where we got a big salmon! And you know fisherman, they don't like their favorite fishing hole broadcasted.

The Eagles are telltale anyway. Right where we park, there is one sitting high up in the tree. Later i see bear prints. All weekend we only had Seagulls fishing with us. From now on i will watch for eagles and bears , when it comes to salmon fishing. Oops, i am not the fisherman, who cares what i think.

Anyway this most amazing spot, we get to the river by walking through the forest. The forest here; big barren Poplars, big barren bushes, a thick layer of decaying leaves on the ground. It's a sight alright.
The beach; full of fist sized rocks. I gather a bag full of clear white ones, with or without lines of different colors.
The river; full of fish!
The trees across; full of eagles.
And as you see in the picture, in the background the mountains.

I continue along the river through the forest, as the beach is gravel bar.
What a commotion! Before i see it, seagulls and eagles are flying in front of me. I am approaching an inlet. On the ground are many remains of fish. I try to sneak up, but when i reach the inlet, the birds have gone, some still in the branches high up, all i find close by, right under my feet, are paw prints of a big bear!

Three Guardsmen



Oct.11 2008

Saturday afternoon Don and i took the orange van to go to Haines. Past Haines Junction we can see that it has snowed quite a bit,
but all is melting now. We drive into a little side road, where I have been told are red currants earlier in the season.
All ready, i forgot where exactly that road is. Was it before or after the beaver pond? The beaver dam broke by the way, the pond empty, a field of black mud channels,
still some water in it. Well I did find the road, now I have to make a note, next time, where it is. I didn't drive in it very far, it is very muddy, lots of puddles.

We pass Dezeadeash Lake, which is very grey and choppy. The lakes we pass today, none of them totally frozen, actually some still totally open.
But about their colors; Every shade of grey you can imagine, from black to light grey, and the Three Guardsmen Lake a shining silver.

We still see some ducks, definitely some Mallards. And Swans everywhere! The juveniles harder to see, as they have the color of the water today.
Some lakes just have one family, and on one lake we count atleast 24 adults, and while counting, once in a while, depending on the light,
we get a glimpse of the young.

On the Haines road, it is a drive back in the season, Back to Autumn. It is interesting how we come through winterscapes, then green grass, slush, rain, sunshine,
fall colors, back to snow. The willow is an interesting tree (bush) in this changing seasons landscape. Back 2 months ago it seemed the first
tree to change colors, but now lots are reddish brown, some still yellow green, and some barren.

We see a flock of Canada Geese and Don spooked a flock of Ptarmigan, when walking into the buck brush.

I said we came upon some sunlight. Glorious! I'll print a picture of the Tree Guardsmen, one of them peaking through the clouds.

Enjoying the ride as much as our goal, we always stop many times, and it will be dark before we get to Haines.
One place I always enjoy tremendously is right at the treeline, coming towards Haines. The forest here is magical. From the
road there is not much to it, you're on the summit and suddenly you're in the Spruce forest. But at any season I invite to
walk into that world there. One aspect encountered today. Bright blue blueberries on bright red stems, no leaves. Too bad they don't
taste as good as they look, they taste if they've frozen and thawed out a few times, they probably have.

The ascend today beautiful as ever, the big mountains highlighted by the almost full moon.
Still some 33 miles(the name of a settlement)to Haines along the Chilcat, it is dark when we park the van on the beach right outside of Haines, Moose soup out of the thermos is our meal and we retire early. Our matrass the bison hide i dried, it proves to make for a very warm bed.