Ice Crystals

This time of year, everything focuses on snow, ice, cold, sunshine - a mixture of winter weathers which create a beautiful, although at times challenging, combination. Of course, because we are living up close to nature, we often see things we would probably otherwise miss.

The wolf tracks from last week, for example. Since writing that post I have had the privilege of running across the tracks of at least two more wolves. There seem to be a LOT of wolves passing through our area. It makes me think there must be some elk around - if not, the fox are unlikely to hold out too well.

Wolf tracks aren't the only things which brings delight to my days. I can usually count on 'something' each time I go out. We have been cold here lately. My morning ski excursion have usually been done in 5 - 10 degrees below zero. While this makes for chilly cheeks and fingers (at the start), it also makes for incredibly beautiful sites.

A few days ago it was the ice crystals in the air. As the sun beams shown through the crystals, the air glittered, floated, and fluttered like it was alive. Amazing!

Today I took a different route - across the lake and up Limestone Creek a little way. It was a beautiful ski. Pristine snow. A few tracks here and there. And ice crystals. The most AMAZING ice crystals.

(No, I did NOT have my camera. I went back later this evening but the weather has warmed - so it can cool off again - and the ice had dropped. Boo Hoo! That ought to teach me!)

I'm still pondering, several hours later, how water and air and sunshine can mix to create something so delicate and so beautiful. Every exposed blade of grass. Every sagebrush branch. Every evergreen. Even the cow parsnip - or maybe I should say, especially the cow parsnip. Or, maybe, it should be, especially the spiny gooseberry branches!

Amazing! While I've seen (and enjoyed) hoar frost, this is different. We have only had one day of fog - apparently enough to get the process started. Since then it has not topped 20 degrees (discounting today which reached 30). Every night has been around 10 below. The days have been sunny.

Somehow the combination of the original hoar frost and the weather which followed had created something incredibly beautiful and unique. Quite unlike anything I have ever seen.

I hope, wherever you are, you are taking time to get out and enjoy the world around you. While I cannot imagine enjoying anyplace as much as I do Elk Lake, it is usually the little things which take our breath away. Go enjoy yours!

Lady of the Lake


Making Tracks!

The booger messed up my tracks. For the last couple of weeks I've been working diligently to create a nice ski track up Narrows Creek. Since the dogs go with me, it really is a fairly complicated process.

First I make a trail for the dogs. While, in theory, it is a ski track, the dog's tracks soon mess it up to the point it makes for poor skiing. After two or three days, its time to make my track.

Of course, since the dogs prefer the bottom, flat ground, this often leaves me making my tracks on a slight side hill. After all, if I make my tracks too close to theirs, they consider it an extention of their own. THAT is not the goal. Then there are the really narrow spots where my track weaves back and forth across their track. And, in a few places, we continue to share the same track.

As if that weren't enough, whenever the wind blows or a decent snow falls, I'm left trying to 're-find' my track in places. Of course the dog's track is usually pretty obvious. A ditch through the snow. However, in the windiest spots, that can even fill in. Then I'm left re-creating both the dog's track and my track.

So now that you know what I do for fun (really, although I'd never admit it to the dogs, I do enjoy the whole process for the most part).

Anyway, once I create the 'perfect' ski track, I get pretty possessive. In fact, the dogs have learned what 'Get out of my track' means. As a result, they have become quite good at staying in their own track.

To further protect my track, I send the dogs ahead as we turn back toward the lodge. This way I leave the last tracks - nicely packed, smooth, and slick - awaiting my next trip up the draw.

That's how I figured out something else had been traveling in my tracks. In fact, he (I'm assuming gender) hadn't just crossed my tracks, he had left big sloppy holes in my tracks all the way up the draw.

At first I thought I was looking at Bo's tracks. Those who have met him know Bo is a big boy. Weighing in at about 150 pounds, he leaves a pretty impressive track in the snow. The tracks in my ski tracks, however, belonged to a noticeably larger animal.

And, of course, my dogs have better manners! In the end, however, no matter how much I may fuss and fume, it was a thrill to see the tracks. After all, this is the first time I've had a wolf wandering around this close to my back yard. As long as he stays out of the actual backyard, he's welcome to visit whenever he like (although I'd really prefer he stay out of my ski tracks!)

Lady of the Lake


Winter Has Arrived!

As I write this, if I but lift my eyes, I can gaze upon a winter wonderland. While some were predicting a drier than last winter for our area (can't say I blame them, it sure took winter a while to come), the snow situation is DEFINITELY looking up.

In fact, we had a harder time getting in to the lodge than normal this year. For starters, on the heels of the snow came the wind. I mean WIND! In an area where the wind can really blow, this was incredible. It shreaked. It howled. It rushed down the side of Mt. Jefferson turning a usually peaceful area into a howling wilderness.

So, while we were ready to go - and even made three attempts to head this way, it was not until the fourth (God blessed us with a nice day and kind friends to help for this one) we finally made the trip. On our first first attempt, Craig got stuck on a powder sled (supposed to handle this kind of stuff) with no load on behind and only a few miles from our starting point.

On the second attempt we couldn't even see good enough to get the sleds loaded. The third went much like the second - thus that day was shot. However, we had reason to be thankful when we discussed the trail with a fellow user the following day.

Seems like he 'had' to get in - so he did. And, coming back out, with two male adults to handle any trail problems, it took him 4 hours to cover the last two miles due to WIND and getting stuck constantly in the powdery snow!

In addition the wind did a number on the snow which had fallen. From contouring a flat hillside into hundreds of concrete-surfaced humps and wind-scoured dips to piling powder in the most unexpected places, our trail had taken on some new dimisions. Since then, however, we have received some nice, gentle, straight-falling-down powder which has gone a long way toward covering the bare spots and smoothing the rough ones.

We are thankful! And, I'm enjoying some wonderful cross country skiing, to boot. As always, I am blessed to be the

Lady of the Lake


Shake, Rattle, and Roll

A new wave of earthquakes centered in and around Yellowstone National Park has scientists excited, and puzzled. While earthquakes are normal in our area, (in fact, born in California and having lived for several years along Oregon's Pacific fault line, I had to move to Montana to experience a quake) this latest swarm has everyone from scientists to gloom-and-doomers voicing an opinion.

KIDK reported over 250 quakes occurred in a 5 day period. The largest measured 3.9 on the rictor scale. Earthquakes are common in Yellowstone, but this many close together is not. According to KSL news, University of Utah researcher, Bob Smith, said, "We haven't had this energetic or intense of a swarm in . . . well over a decade. So. . . it's unusual and it's notable."

Yellowstone normally experiences about 1,000 to 2,000 quakes per year. What has scientists interested is 250 in 5 days. This, they say, means there is a buildup of energy which needed to be released. The question is why?

Over recent months Yellowstone has been the recipient of many doom and gloom predictions. Some are predicting the end of the world as we know it. Others, like myself and many scientists, believe it is all part of what makes Yellowstone so unique.

Of course, if you get a kick out of reading gloom and doomers, you can visit Dave's" blog or Kyle's" blog. However, since the last time YNP blew, they say, was over 620,000 years ago (although no one was around to record the event) - and 'they' say it blows every 620,000 years (but, again, who really knows for sure?) I think what goes on under the earth's crust is just about as fully discovered as what goes on in the universe surrounding our blue planet.

It is nice to know, not everyone sees a boogy man under every bush. If they did, environmentalists wouldn't have to work so hard to 'decrease' Yellowstone's traffic. As for me, I figure I'm close enough it really won't matter. If it blows, I'm out of here and on to a better place. If it doesn't, I get the privilege of living in one of the most beautiful places God created. Either way, I'm blessed to be the

Lady of the Lake