Mary, you are right! Mary thought me to make a psh, psh ,psh sound when a chickadee flies up to you, and indeed soon I was surrounded by at least 6 Chickadees.
This is so neat!
Here in the woods, there are always Chickadees. I also always encounter Juncos, but they apparently are migrants, and will leave for a short period. I will have to watch them this winter, now that I recognize them faster, to see if some do stay, or do we get a few migrants from the North?
Today I left at 8 am., just after daybreak. The day didn't look so promising. Yesterday was sunny, today cloudy. It even started to rain a little bit. But I was eager to go and left without rain gear, why not?
I took my bike, the long way towards Pond Creek. It's a familiar area in the winter, but last year in the Summer we got hopelessly lost in the area. All summer I have wanting to check it out, so next time I'll know the way.
I say the long way, because in the Winter we go across the 911 pond, in the Summer there are trails from the Champagne road. Which also saves me having to swim the Mendenhall river.
I go the same direction as towards the 911 pond. Interestingly enough, last time I went I think I had a hailstorm right on the highway where turning towards the pond.
Today that is where it was drizzling.
I stay on the highway, cross the Mendenhall bridge and turn left on the Champagne road. I only takes me half an hour to get to the trail. The weather is very calm.
The first part of the trail is beautiful, but very bumpy, (on the way back, I walk this stretch).
It is a meadow with little willows and miniature Spruce trees. Her and there a stand of poplars, some bright yellow, others bare. On the trail the yellow leaves. This all surrounded by dark Spruce Forest and the red mountains beyond.
15 minutes of bumping along, the road goes Eastward into the forest. It is here I sit under a Spruce tree, to stay out of the rain. I marvel how dry it is under here, only to come out and realize it stopped raining.
15 min. through the forest, where the road is more smooth. The old ruts of trucks, smoother then the newer ruts of ATVs.
At 9 AM. I come out in the open. The beautiful grass meadows. The grass is yellowish,
with the silver of Wild Sage. And more silver yet is mats of tiny leaves from an Antennaria (pussy toes). And some patches of grey mud, where the Glasswort grows which is pale dark red now, it used to be bright red a month ago.
I am South of the 911 Pond, the Mendenhall River in between. Which you don't see, because of the forest, These meadows large openings in the forest, some stringed together, some separate. It is a beautiful maze.
Anyway, today I will make sure I know which way leads to the little bridge at Pond creek. Thank you, thank you, whoever made that bridge. It's been there only a year or so. Mary spotted it on a ski trip last winter. Before that we had to ford the Creek, to continue. It is a deep creek. When I say ford, I think it means on can still walk, but in this creek that is barely possible, you kind of lunge yourself through it.
Back to the track; I follow the meadow, where it takes me, first South and then East, at the end it comes out on a bigger meadow, I turn South again. At this point there is a good visible trail. And I am following the main trail. But this trail is not always visible. The biking is actually fairly smooth. Going through a narrow, Oh I am
lost again, now, trying to recall it. Any way at one point the trail fades, and there
I can go right or left. Right seems obvious, but it is left. Ah it is impossible to
remember it all, I just have to go there twice a year, till it is totally imprinted in my memory.
Because at one point I have to turn into the forest, South. There is a tiny piece of blue ribbon hanging there, to mark the entry of the trail.
By the way, some one from Champagne, has a leash on this land, grazing pasture for their horses.
But lets keep going; Going South, following smaller meadows, which are attached by a trail through forest. When I come out on a little elevation, before descending in the willows, Someone has changed the trail. I follow the new trail, which follows a grassy ridge. And descents in the willows towards a stand of poplars, which I always use as an alignment to know where I am. I walk with my bike now, sometimes riding , but eventually I leave it behind. The new trail picks up the old one again, by an old big willow, which is another trail marker for me.
At 9.30 I reach Pond Creek, oh beautiful One, How delightful to see you!
It is a winding Creek.
The bridge is playing tricks on the mind, as it is a few bends away, placed in the opposite direction. As the creeks folds upon itself. The bridge goes from North to South, while the general direction of the trail is South.
Do you get it? I barely do.
On the other side, there is a long story again, and I do play around here for an hour, before I return.
The return trip takes me 2 hours, as it is slightly uphill.