Winter on Life Support

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Aki was not pleased at being left out of yesterday’s hike. Giving me hard looks, she followed me around the house this morning as I gather needed stuff for a cross-country ski on the Montana Creek trail. We have avoided this trail for the last two seasons because it starts near a very active gun range. The cannon-like noise produced hurts my ears and makes the little dog very nervous. But Aki loves snow, especially when it offers her a chance to run along side one of her people skiing. So here we are.

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Thanks it its proximity to the glacier, Montana Creek has an icebox microclimate that keeps winter alive as spring flowers open on Chicken Ridge. While walking away from the gun range on a bone-dry road I wonder if we left it too late. But three hundred meters ahead we find an icy covering that had been made just skiable by groomer. With the drum and track setter that he tows behind his snowmachine (Skido in Canadian, Snowmobile in American), he keeps winter on life support for the first kilometer of the trail. After that he just has to tidy up the snow that winter retains on its own. For the last two kilometers of the creek side trail snow stacks three feet high decorate boulders in the stream and a blanket of the same thickness covers the forest floor.

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