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.


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


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


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


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


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


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!

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
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, 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.


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!