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A Holiday Ski!
First Skis of the Season!
Counting Birds in the Olympic Region

Monitoring the snow depth

The beginning of ski season is often a game of figuring out how much snow depth we have and how much snow coverage is needed to explore certain trails. So early season skis tend to be on open trails and fields which catch more snowfall – unless the wind is pushing it off.

With the depth of our snow increasing of late and with the storm late last week, Wren (my four-legged companion) and I started by going to the ski trails off Fish Hatchery Road in Lake Clear which center on the Fish Pond Trail.

We first went shortly before Christmas when a brief warm-up brought with it rain and mixed precipitation. Knowing the forecast, I planned our time before the worst of the rain started, and the glide on the kicked-in trails was excellent thanks to the thin glaze of ice from the freezing rain.

As we almost always do, we looped Little Green Pond and then headed out along Fish Pond Trail before turning around and completing our loop. Our timing was good – we returned wet but warm in the increasing rain.

A world of white

After the rain switched back to snow, Christmas Eve and Christmas offered us a few inches of soft powder to cover the base which had frozen solid with the falling temps. With every branch and twig layered with snow, the world was transformed overnight into crystal — as if it was enchanted. Wren and I wandered through the woods with my camera in hand as I attempted to capture some of the wintry spell which had bewitched the landscape.

And if walking in a winter wonderland is the quintessential snow day experience, then skiing in such a wintry utopia is even better. Wren and I were back on the trails in Lake Clear on Christmas Day to enjoy the white magic. It was fantastic.

The tall hemlocks along our route were topped with white like a confectioner’s work on a grand scale, and the beech and maple branches hung heavy with snow and ice – in some places blocking a portion of the trail. But that sort of thing only added to the sense of exploration as we wound around the bowed branches and bumped off snow here and there to the ground.

The glide of the fresh snow on the icy base was excellent and we cruised along effortlessly. We periodically paused for my vain attempts to encapsulate the aura of the place in a photograph, and to admire the scenery and the snow-covered trees guarding the edge of Little Green Pond and Little Clear Pond.

But, unlike the world of the White Witch in Narnia, Christmas was permitted to come, and the day held a festive feeling of celebration. Each bend in the trail revealed a new landscape composition to appreciate, as the sun glistened off the branches and limbs, and the entire world around us glowed.

The birds too seemed to applaud the charmed landscape, and here and there small groups of Black-capped Chickadees, Golden-crowned Kinglets, or Dark-eyed Juncos fed and chattered. We also found a few tracks – coyote, red fox, white-tailed deer, and others, as the animals crisscrossed the trail, or followed it for a period to save energy. Wren nosed these, leaving her large prints for the next animal to smell.

I felt as if I could have skied and explored for the entire day, as if I was visiting a new land in a dream and could do so without growing tired. But we eventually turned around on the Fish Pond Trail and retraced our steps back to the car, extolling the new perspective the return trip offered. With that we headed off for home and Christmas dinner. We would sleep well that night.

Winter has only just arrived so plan your outdoor adventure and cross-country skiing trip today! After hitting the trails our delicious eateries and cozy lodging will welcome you warmly.

First Skis of the Season!
Counting Birds in the Olympic Region

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