‘Tis The Season For Snowshoeing

We already have enough (more than enough!) snow on the ground here for some decent snowshoeing and I am thrilled. As a bonus, this is the earliest I’ve ever been able to get out on the trails and it looks as though the white stuff is here to stay for a goodly length of time.

I’ve actually been out a couple of times since my last post, but the weather has been a little on the chilly side (read: too cold to take off my mittens long enough to snap a photo). Today was positively balmy by comparison, with the temperature hovering just below the freezing mark. It was perfect for getting out for more than an hour, and for these. 🙂

snowshoeing2

The underside of pine branches

snowshoeing3

Winter willow

snowshoeing7

Gnarled branches

snowshoeing4

Solid beauty of a maple trunk

snowshoeing5

Staghorn sumacs

snowshoeing6

Breaking trails

snowshoeing1

Tired but happy

Advertisements

Snow, Glorious Snow!

If you follow me on either Twitter or Facebook, you’ll know that we’ve had a very white Christmas this year. Two major winter storms have passed through within a week, and someone I met along the trail today says that a third is on its way. A lot of folks in the area are crying “uncle!” and claiming that we have more than enough of the white stuff…I, on the other hand, am having a total blast with it.

Yes, it’s true, I did whine about the onset of winter, but the truth is that once it settled in (and I got used to the idea!), I remembered how much I love it. Especially days like today. Clear skies, a good eight inches of fresh powder, brilliant sunshine, cold but not disgustingly so, and my first time out this year on snowshoes.

It was glorious. 

The snowshoe trail less travelled...

The snowshoe trail less travelled…

River's edge

River’s edge

Well insulated beaver lodge

Well insulated beaver lodge

Dressed in white

Dressed in white

Waiting

Waiting

Little critter tracks

Little critter tracks

Edge of the marsh

Edge of the marsh

Snow dog

Snow dog

Picture-postcard perfect

Picture-postcard perfect


The Changing Landscape

After two days of freezing rain and just plain crappy weather, Charlie and I managed to get down to the river again at last. The weather still wasn’t great (an insulated duck suit would have been the ideal attire), but there was no holding this boy back any longer…at least, not if I wanted my sanity to survive. 😉

Even in the short time that we’d been cooped up in the house, the landscape had changed dramatically. More of the river’s edge was frozen, and the snow had rendered the ice opaque. More trails had come into view with the fresh snow as well, and we meandered into corners of the woods we’ve never before explored. At one point, we found ourselves following in the footsteps of other intrepid souls — a man, judging by the size of the boot print, and his dog. Their trail led to the edge of the marsh we’d visited last week, but on the opposite side. There were no returning tracks, so we gathered our courage (okay, I did…Charlie just thought the entire adventure was grand!) and struck out across the frozen beaver dam.

The mostly frozen beaver dam.

Despite a couple of close calls with open water — and the discovery that my new winter boots aren’t entirely waterproof above the four-inch mark 😉 — we managed to traverse the entire pond by way of a remarkably sturdy work of animal engineering, emerging at the very vantage point from which I’d viewed things before. Pretty awesome.

And, as always, I found lots of photo opportunities. 🙂

changing

changing3

changing4

changing2

changing5

changing6


That Which Sustains Us

I always tell people that I walk because I have no choice — because my 127 lb dog would destroy my house if he didn’t get his exercise. That’s true, of course (my living room doesn’t fare well in bad weather!) but the real truth? Walking, especially when I’m down along the river, keeps me grounded in a way that nothing else can.

In the wake of last week’s horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary, I desperately needed such grounding. I needed to be reminded that the world as I knew it still existed. I needed to stand on the bank and watch the river lap beneath the ice across its surface, to listen to the wind’s hollow melody as it blew past a broken cement culvert jutting into the water, to feel the crunch of the ice beneath my boots as I strode through woods heavy and dark with sleep. I needed to connect with the other…with that part of life that continues around us, within us, in spite of us.

I needed — and found — the reassurance that something greater than us still had a hand in things. That there is something greater than us.

I hope you’re able to find that reassurance, too.

riversong

riversong2

riversong3

riversong4

riversong5


Secret Paths and Icy Walks

According to the meteorologists, we had our first “major winter event” in the Ottawa region the other day. Why it had to be a freezing rain event, I don’t know, but there you have it. And honestly, while it was a little messy at the time, it really wasn’t all that bad…though it does still make for some interesting walking out there.

On the other hand, it has also provided a certain sparkle to the landscape, which is nice. See? There’s always a bright side if you look hard enough. 😉

Oh, and another bright side? With the leaves gone and the ground dusted with white, Charlie and I are finding all kinds of new paths in the woods that we’d been walking right past all summer long, some of them leading to places I didn’t even know about. It’s as if a whole other, secret world has come to light. Very cool. 🙂

secretpaths7

The water is so cold that it has visibly thickened and slowed.

The water is so cold that it has visibly thickened and slowed.

River's edge

River’s edge

An icy coating

An icy coating

Secret paths

Secret paths

Frozen marsh

Frozen marsh

Beaver lodge

Beaver lodge


The Beauty of Ice

Most people don’t think to go walking along the beach at -14 Celsius.

Most people are missing out.

Charlie and I headed out just after sunup this morning and found a stretch of sand that was completely deserted. But for a few hardy geese (hey, they’re Canadian! ;)), there wasn’t another soul in sight. Now granted, -14 is just a little brisk, but if you’re bundled up well enough, you hardly even notice. And if you’re paying attention, you see things like this:

beauty of ice

And if you look closer, this:

beauty of ice2

And closer still? This:

beauty of ice3

Have a lovely day! 🙂


The River Ice Cometh

Just back from a walk along the river and oh, yeah, it’s winter out there, all right! With the wind chill today, our temperature is hovering at about -13 Celsius (8.5F). Still, despite the chill, we actually covered a fair distance — I’ve discovered one of the perks to walking in cold weather is that I move much faster, lol! Of course, it’s going to get a lot colder out there before spring returns, and if I want to keep my sanity, I’ll be out there walking in all temperatures.

That sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but believe me, it’s saner to walk in the most frigid of temperatures than it is to have a 127-lb dog cooped up in the house for more than two consecutive days without exercise. 😉

Anyway, winter might be here, but nature still has plenty of little moments she’s willing to share with those who are looking for them (and who are in turn willing to take off their gloves to snap a photo!). Today it was a view through the trees toward the river:

cold day

And ice forming on the river:

river ice