13 April 2014

Cross Country Skiing, Winter 2013-2014, Butte America

It's been a great winter. We had some early snow in September and October that set a good base. Though the new snow cover was thin until some big dumps from mid-February to late-March, snow holds well in our dry climate and trails at both The Moulton and Mill Creek (aka "Mt Haggin") were excellent. Some warm temperatures in early March set up the surface, so off-piste back country skiing was very good also. It still is--though I decided to hang up my skis this week because, well, it's time. Four plus months of skiing, about four mornings each week, is plenty; and come Spring this boy's heart turns to trout fishing and hiking.

Winter skies are very beautiful, whether with a storm moving up the Clark Fork River valley from the west:

Or sunset on a fresh dump of snow in the Highland Mtns south of Butte:

Here, the wind blows a fresh dusting of champagne powder:

 The early morning, low angle sun lights up metamorphosed snowflakes like diamonds. If you unfocus your eyes and get into the right Zen Shoshin (初心) state of mind, the bright snow background goes dark and it is like looking into the starry night sky: 

Early in the season, a big windstorm dropped a lot of trees over the trails:

This tree will fall soon, too:

 Club members pitch in to clear the trails. Here's Little Brother A.J. lending a hand (preparing to limb a blow down before we buck it up):

 As Townes van Zandt sang, "Days up and down they come, like rain on a conga drum. Forget most, remember some. But don't turn none away." This means go skiing even if it's a little frosty (like -5 deg F; it you turn the thermometer upside down, the temperature rises!):

When it's below zero, my frosty beard is a pretty good thermometer too:

I primarily ski three trails at The Moulton--Buzzy, Big Nipper, and Yankee Boy:

 During the Winter Olympics, I was inspired to practice my low-tech biathlon technique: 

No winter is complete without a few moonlight ski trips: 

I always ski with MollyTheDog, but sometimes human friends (such as Keith, show below) also join the fun: 

 Like moonlight skiing, there are certain other elements that make a season complete--such as a good slalom run down the pole line:

Much of the wildlife -- elk, deer, migratory birds -- clears out of the high country for winter. Moose hang out in the willows on the creek bottom near the parking lot: 

Most other wildlife is almost exclusively nocturnal. Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) regularly patrol the best mouse habitat: 

Pine Marten (Martes americana) are always searching for a careless Red Squirrel:

Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) have large feet that allow them to run atop the snow without breaking through: 

Often, but not always, this allows them to evade predators. Sometimes, however, death comes from above (I think this hare was killed and partially eaten by a hawk or owl): 

Well, Spring is coming and with it there will be new litters of baby bunnies and a renewal of all things. In the meantime, we say goodbye to a winter with an unusual amount of snow--enough to nearly cover the fences: 

Happy Spring!


Judy said...

Okay, that is a sizeable drift of snow on the fence!!
I have not been out much, what with school, and dogs claiming they are too old for that cold nonsense... trying to get back into it now, when it is not raining, like today...

troutbirder said...

You've certainly taken winter by the horns and made the best of it. And obviously enjoy it. Unfortunately with few exceptions since a younger age my winter mode has been survival not enjoyment. Not the best approach for an otherwise "True Minnesotan.:)

Secret Agent Woman said...

It is very beautiful. But, you know, also cold.

The Equestrian Vagabond said...

We didn't get much snow here (again) this winter, and I am always sad to see it go, though I seem to be the only one here who thinks that! Although, ok, -5* is cold. Now I have to wait what, 8 months for more of your fun winter posts! Well, at least I have an active Raven nest just up the creek to liven up my spring.
- The Equestrian Vagabond

Janie said...

Looks like you had a great winter for cross country skiing. All that snow will renew the soil for a lovely spring.

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