21 December 2007

The Moulton Journal: Last Ski at Mill Creek?

The Moulton area just north of Butte/Walkerville has picked up some snow the past fewe days, so my every-other-day trek over to the "Mount Haggin Skiing Area" near the Mill Creek pass might be over. It will be good to get back to the challenging and varied Moulton trails, and why drive 25 miles when you can drive 5?

The snow in the Mill Creek pass area is very good, and though it's about the same elevation as Walkerville it is typically about 10 deg F cooler. Typically, green Swix kick wax (0 to 10 deg F) is about right for an early morning ski, but here's Roly-the-Dog (RTD) posing on a recent "extra blue" morning:

The cooler weather on the Big Hole side of the Continental Divide has not deterred the pine beetle invasion. Entomologists tell us that it takes a week or so of c. -30 deg F weather to suppress the pine beetle population. These cold spells were common up until the late 1990s, however since then Global Warming has really kicked in. Our annual precipiation is about the same as the longterm historical average, but overall temperatures average consideralby warmer, and extreme cold spells just don't seem to occur at all. Here's a view of dying lodgepole pines along the flanks of Sugarloaf Mountain. Given the rapid spread of the beetles, probably the trees that are still green will be dead within a few years:

Wednesday of this week was downright balmy. The Mill Cr pass area received several inches of fresh snow, early morning temperatures were near freezing, and RTD & I paused while I corked some purple wax into the kickpockets of my skis. This also gave me a chance to photograph a tiny "snow spider"--they are common in the winter when it warms to near or above freezing, and must have antifreeze for blood:

Here's RTD posing for a "first tracks" pic on our way up the Little California loop:

Up along the level, top-most portion of the trail, a big cow moose dashed across the trail just a hundred feet or so ahead of us, making me glad that RTD is well behaved about such things. Moose can get downright pissed over dogs that chase them, as Dave & I found out when my little hound, Nellie, chased a big bull moose in the Highlands. It turned on her, and luckily we were not far from Dave's truck.

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