Friday, December 26, 2008

More ranch skiing

Friday I skied more around my pastures. Following my old tracks in the north and middle pastures certainly was easier than breaking trail. I did also ski around the south and NE pastures and that entailed breaking trail.

There were lots and lots of deer tracks in the south pasture and I could see the areas where the deer favored jumping over my fence from my neighbor's property.

Interesting how the river appears to disappear.

In this photo I caught snow falling from a tree branch of the middle tree in the back.

Trees and fallen trees.

The 'skeleton' tree below is a tamarack (Western larch).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas skiing

I hope each of you had a great day Christmas day. I had a good day. I drove to Whitefish to have brunch with Jackie (a good friend of dad's) and part of her family. Two of her three daughters, their spouses and kids were there and it was the first time I met most of them. The food and company were good and the four hours that I spent there passed quickly. One of Jackie's granddaughters spent a semester as a college exchange student in Ireland and she and I talked about our travels in Europe.

It snowed again today. I woke up to two to three inches of snow and I spent an hour clearing the driveway of snow before I left to go to Jackie's place. Most roads had not been plowed of snow. Traffic had made tracks and actually it was kind of fun driving in the snow. Especially as there was so little traffic out and about.

I decided not to take the road up the ridge as I had some doubt about making it up to the top. The road curves to reach the top and at the bottom is a bridge and river. If I - or others - couldn't make it top I didn't want to have to back/slide down. So I went a few miles out of my way to the highway and took that. It also had been plowed earlier even if there was still plenty of snow on it from the snowfall in progress.

The traffic and I went less than the speed limit. Still I seen a pickup going the other way pulled over by the highway patrol. Who'd be exceeding the speed limit in this weather? The pickup's driver was on his cell phone as the highway patrolman sat in his car.

After four hours at Jackie's my car was covered in snow. As I swept the snow off my car some of the snow on the metal roof of Jackie's house slid off and landed with a loud thud on the sidewalk below. Avalanche!

I slide and slipped during my drive home in the even deeper snow. I took the route where the road curved down from the ridge. No problem going down.

Back home I had an inch or so of snow on my driveway. It was (and is) still snowing so I left it alone for now. Instead - once I cleaned the ashes from my wood stove and lit a new fire - I decided to go cross-country skiing in my pasture. The weather was perfect: no wind, light fluffy snowflakes falling, and a temperature around 20 F.

I found with the warmer weather the snow was slipperier, which is good for skiing. Maybe too good at times as I found it was too slippery for me to cross a big dip when I couldn't get up the other side and slid backwards until the back end of my skis stopped against the ground and I fell down backwards into the soft snow. I had to take another, shallower, route out of the dip.

This time I didn't try to crawl over the barb wire fence and skied back to the gate to the middle pasture on the eastern end then back to the river again.

With the warmer temperatures I found quite a bit of the river open water again. I am constantly surprised. Here is today's photo contrasted by a similar photo taken a few days ago when the temperature was much colder.

I was skiing at dusk and the deer didn't know what to make of me. When I was in the north pasture five deer were coming out of the trees along the south end of the middle pasture then stopped when they saw me. They didn't know what to do and eventually turned back to the river.

When I was near the river in the middle pasture I saw another couple deer on the island near the river. Again these deer didn't know what to make of me.

When I returned from the river in the south side of the middle pasture the five deer were now crossing over to the north pasture and again occasionally stopped to look at me to figure me out.

It was getting dark and I kept an eye out for mountain lions. I didn't see any. I did see tracks of some smaller/mid sized animal running around a section of trees along the north/middle pasture fence. No idea what animal it could be.

As it was warm at around 20 F I felt like skiing more and when I returned back to the house I decided to ski the driveway to the road. I ended up skiing almost a mile total up and down the road. It had not been snowplowed but the traffic had compressed the snow. Finally I got to "ski" and glide as in the pasture all the new snow meant breaking trail even when I used my old tracks from a few days ago. On the road I only met two cars; otherwise I had the road to myself. Eventually I quit and returned home.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cross country pasture skiing

Over the weekend I went for another cross country ski run around my pasture. The snow was much deeper now and my "skiing" was merely breaking track through the deep snow. Yes, that is my ski in the first photo.

On my "to-do" list for next year is to make a gate through the fence closer to the river. If you think it is a hassle to normally cross a barb wire fence, try doing it while wearing cross-country skis! I made it over the north/middle pasture fence but it was complicated. No, I didn't feel like taking my skis off, though in the future I will.

I saw some deer tracks crossing north and south through my pastures. Usually the deer travel west/east from the river area to the creek across the road to the east.

As you can see in the second photo another tree has blown over. This tree is one of two that had died a few years ago. Being much smaller this tree will be easier to drop to the ground than the tree I just finished with in November.

Here are river views. The river hasn't completely frozen over in deep areas or where the rapid movement slows ice formation. Some animal crossed the river over the ice that stretches from bank to bank in the middle of the photo. I couldn't tell what kind it was from the tracks. The animal was light as the ice is not thick.

Here the river did freeze along the north pasture since the last time I skied here a few days prior. This is not a very deep area.

Here was my view heading back from the river.