Hiking Again

I felt the need to commune with nature this morning.

The sun was getting ready to peek over the mountains to the east, it was 23F outside, and the snow is melting away fast. Contrary to most people here, I'm going to miss that snow, the girls will too, so why waste any opportunity to enjoy it?

We hiked up into the forest from the snowmobile parking lot. The snow was crusty and firm, supporting our weight. Perfect for hiking. Because we ran about seven miles on roads yesterday, I decided a hike was the best pace for today.

About a mile up, we took the side road we often walk along during summer evenings. Until just recently, the snow was too deep and soft for us to walk here. Snowmobiles rarely venture off the main road onto this spur. Now, though, the snow disappearing and remains only about a foot deep on the old road surfaces. South-facing hills are bare. Soon the wildflowers will be bursting from the ground, changing the brown landscape to green, yellow, blue, white, purple and red.

We made this route a loop by taking a path down a steep gully back to the parking lot. This path is an example of my love-hate relationship with throttle-twisters. I hate that snowmobiles and ATVs go up and down this gully, eroding the ground and killing the vegetation, but, they've left a path that the girls and I can follow, almost year round. It's steep, but serene when no engines are roaring nearby.

Midway down this path is an artificial watering hole. When I first came upon this two years ago, I was puzzled - who put it there, and what was it for? I've since been told the forest service puts these in where there's a natural spring to help game access water during the dry summer months. Interestingly, these big tractor tire containers always have what I call "the small critter walk" - a plank covered with chicken wire that would allow any small animal, like a squirrel, to get out of the tire well. Quite clever, actually. Although the necessity for including such an escape route was, I'm sure, learned the hard way.

The girls won't drink out of these, despite my urging. The gurgling noises bother them.

Another identical watering hole exists off the trail on the way to my Sound of Music Hill.

After finishing the hike, both girls headed straight for my bed for a nap. What about me?