Greetings on this very beautiful January day! Hard to believe it’s the same month as it was 3 days ago. I mean, going from -24F on Tuesday all the way up to 35F yesterday, and almost as warm today, is really quite hard to believe. Now, it’s not hard to believe cold weather for the first week of January around here, but mild, melting temps are just not a common thing. It does happen. Rarely. So I was outside for a bit yesterday and today enjoying the sunshine and the fact I didn’t need to wear gloves while taking pics of my little feathered friends.
Unfortunately that nasty shrike showed up, scaring the little birds into hiding, and oddly the blue jays were nowhere in sight. The shrike was too high in the tree for me to scare him away. And those little birds were not going to move until the shrike left. One poor little nuthatch was on the suet feeder at the time but was on the side away from the shrike. He was motionless however, until he noticed the other birds starting to fly around again.
I used to enjoy snowshoeing at one time, when my health was still good. I found it a very nice way to enjoy the solitude of the winter forest. But it is best to do with someone else, like most outdoor activities. Just in case. Problems can arise that we just do not anticipate and if alone, that can be dangerous. Didn’t stop me however. No one else shared my enthusiasm for snowshoeing. Or hiking. Or canoeing. Or most any other outdoor activity. So I usually was off by myself enjoying the winter beauty of the boreal forest. One year in January, not as cold a year as my last trek I talked about. But there was a lot of snow that year, almost 3 feet of snow on the ground. Great for snowshoes. This day as I started out it was -15F, so not bad at all. And I was dressed warmly. That was a good thing as it turned out.
But as usual I didn’t tell anyone where I was going or how long I would be away. Something that definitely should be done when going out alone. It was really beautiful. The sun was shining brilliantly through the pines. And it was quiet. The only noise was me. Periodically I would stop and listen. Nothing. Just quiet. No sign of life at all. Except at one spot a squirrel was sitting at the base of a large pine eating a pinecone. He paid no attention to me when I stopped to watch. Those cones are rock hard but he had no trouble biting it open to extract the small seeds inside. Unfortunately I didn’t bring any food with me or I would have shared some with him. I was heading off to an area I hadn’t been before. It was simply breathtaking looking off into the trees, the sun’s rays shining through and glistening on the snow. After a bit I turned back toward a more familiar area as there was a small cliff along a valley and I wanted to go down to the valley and then swing back to another trail I had made a week before. Even with snowshoes it was hard going at times and I was starting to get a bit tired when I arrived at the cliff edge.
I was wondering if I should turn and head back or go down to the valley below. It was a new part of this cliff area but there was a nice easy sloped way down to a ledge about 30 or so feet down the cliff. So off I went. About half way down this ‘slope’ I heard some cracking sounds and then…WHUMP! I fell the last 20 feet. My nice slope was actually two dead trees that had fallen against the cliff edge many years before and had been so covered with that deep snow that I couldn’t see any of the small branches that would have given it away. And one of my snowshoes got tangled in the trees twisting my ankle rather badly. I figured that ankle would be terribly swollen before I got back home. Sigh.
So now what? There was no way back up. And it was at least 20 feet down to the next level. And who knows what might be hidden under that deep snow. So I figured jumping down was not a good option. Besides, that ankle was hurting quite badly, jumping would likely make things worse. It was 1 pm when I left, it was now 2:30, so I still had a bit more than 2 hours of daylight.
Sorry, you’ll have to wait until Monday for the rest of that story. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and God bless!
Steve and Muffin.