17 January 2007

The Moulton Journal: 11 minute Yankee; pine beetle mystery

A morning of skiing is a lot like an orgasm: it's hard to have a bad one.
Years ago, Rick Appleman (who skis with the grace of a cat) suggested that 11 minutes is a pretty good time for the Yankee loop. Arghhhhh!!!! He poisoned my mind, and since then I occasionally carry a watch so that I can time a run on Yankee. I've found that anything under 12 minutes feels pretty darned good especially as I slide into Little Nipper (it makes a nice "cool down") and my heartrate drops below 200 or so. Today was about 11 & 1/2: not a great time by Applemania standards, but my heart & lungs felt pretty good about it.

Here's a mystery: What is causing these de-barked patches on the lodgepole pines?

My hypothesis is that pine squirrels are scraping off the bark to get at beetles & grubs (aka larvae). Do squirrels eat beetles? I dunno, but the scraped trees do seem always to have squirrel tracks to and from them. Perhaps the bark is simply flaking off as the trees die, but the bare patches look to have been scraped by little claws and there are occasional piles of fresh bark scrapings.

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