Postcards on the Trail

In the early mornings at this time of year, we are treated to beautiful colors in the sky. Today it reflected in the water as well. For a brief time, the sky was this shade of pink, and then a bit of orange. It's a good thing that Greg noticed it and told me to look out the window--just a few minutes later, it was gone.

In case you hadn't noticed, this is my new favorite way to take a photo: I hold my camera out the window of our room upstairs, to take a shot that overlooks the lake. From that vantage point, I can get a good overview of the landscape. Being a shorter person, I just can't do it justice from the ground!

Yesterday when I drove towards the trail, I realized that Hollywood films have nothing on us when it comes to flocking trees and creating a wintery scene. The conifer trees were mostly laden with the fresh snow, while the deciduous trees had little coats of frost, thanks to the moisture that is still being released from our (mostly) open lake. It is difficult to take a picture that adequately reflects all of this. Suffice it to say that it was as pretty as a postcard.

The lake is starting to freeze up around the bays and edges. I don't see as much steam rising from it, so it must be nearing the point of cooldown necessary to freeze over. The other important factor that must fall in to place is the wind. Tomorrow night, the lows in our area are predicted to be 21 to 26 degrees below zero. But the wind is supposed to be out of the west at ten to fifteen miles per hour. It's not likely that the lake will freeze if both of those conditions happen. Last year, it seemed to be taking a long time for the lake to freeze. We were all anxious, and it happened that one evening we were having friends over for dinner, and I suggested that afterwards, we go down and see how the lake was doing. It was quite cold, and it seemed that the wind had died down. We bundled up, and headed out into the stillness. When we got to the landing, we could actually hear the ice forming. First there was a trickling sound of water, and then suddenly it stopped. It was almost like a switch had been flipped off. And there in front of us was ice where moments before it was water. We started to pitch small snow chunks on to the new ice, and watched them trail until they reached the edge a little further out, where they fell into the lake. It was such a rare moment. When we headed in, we were happy that finally the lake had frozen over. But in the morning, it was not to be, as the wind had come up, and pushed around all the new ice, broken it up, and re-opened the lake. It was several more days before it really settled down enough to freeze completely and firmly.

With all of the white surrounding us, we've been able to spot critters more easily. Several neighbors have reported seeing moose on the trail again. We got our chance last Saturday, as we headed to Grand Marais early in the morning. Along a straightaway, two bull moose were conversing up ahead. It had been a while since I've seen bulls with racks, and these two looked great. They scrambled to take there meeting off-road, and one nearly slipped as he headed in to the woods. I was happy that he didn't actually fall, because I have seen that, and it looks painful. I've been watching tracks, hoping to see some wolf, but so far it has been just the fox. Those little fellows and gals are a frequent sight on the trail.

More snow is falling today, and it is great to know that so much of the state has been blessed with early December snow. That means we all can dust off the skis and snowshoes sooner to get out there and find our "ski legs" again. The muscles will be sore for a bit, but then we'll be gliding along.