St Croix River Road Ramblings

Welcome to River Road Ramblings.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

X-Country Views

With all the snow, a beautiful sunny day and no wind, the driveway plowed, the sidewalk shoveled, and my cross country skis dug out, it was just too tempting to resist heading out for a tour of the 40 acres here on the Hanson Farm. 

Margo and I took lessons at the "Trees for Tomorrow" center in Eagle River back in the mid 1970s when we lived in nearby Goodman, WI and I was teaching there.  We had never tried it, but the Goodman area had all sorts of snowmobile and ski trails and our friends extolled the fun of heading out for a day of touring the woods.  

The training was a full weekend--Friday night through Sunday evening, cabins, food, and equipment provided and education, rest, plus some environmental speakers etc.   Very nice weekend.  Of course, it happened to be -25 below in the morning rising to -15 by afternoon, but being young and vigorous, we were quickly overheated on the trail anyway without stripping some of the outer clothes.  

We bought our own narrow skis with 3-pin shoes and did a bunch of skiing over the years until my big downhill ski crash about 1989 where my ACL (one of the big stabilizing ligaments) got torn off and the knee unstable.  After that a little skiing at Pine island, the rare times when there was enough snow to get out down there -- yes it is in a different zone and even this year has a couple inches cover only. 

Well, with Myasthenia in remission, my breathing back to normal and muscles working and a wonderful replacement knee 2 springs ago, it seemed like a good time to test out the skiing again. 

The snow here in rural Cushing, on the back side of Bass Lake ranges from 15 inches to 25 inches based on the drifts.  It is very soft--no crust to hold you up.  My narrow skis especially fitted for a much lighter version of me sunk a foot deep.  So, no gliding, just trail breaking, but also no sliding, slipping --just pushing along.  Probably next trip will be easier with the trail broke. 

I headed south west from the house, across the field to Dub Lake and then up Bass Lake Creek to the swamp along Evergreen and then up the hill to the barn and back.  Probably just 1/2 mile.  By taking immense numbers of photo-stops, I never tired at all.  It was cold enough not to melt snow into my shoes (really should have boots for this deep of snow), and it was really quite fun.   

With a couple of inches of new sparkling snow, I was looking for any fresh tracks of animals or birds.  Nothing since this morning's snow, but one deer track across the pond and a few deer tracks up the valley.  

By the way, as a math/physics grad, I decided to calculate the size of ski's needed to handle my current slightly more substantial size:  two 12 foot 1"x16" skis might be just about right!   The old ones up in the granary are about 3 times as wide and much longer--ones from Great Uncle Andrew who came from Norway and said that is what they used over there to ski across country.  For a few years in the 1920s he held the longest ski jump record over at Rice Lake, so I think he knew what he was talking about. 

Dub lake is the result of a dozer cleaning out a cattail swamp in 1970.  "Dub" was my dad's nickname growing up.  Maybe a couple of acres, on the drainage route from Bass Lake to Deer Lake to Wolf Creek and then the St Croix.  So have to maintain a good grassland boundary around to keep field runoff to a minimum. 

A deer has dug down to a green cattail and nibbled it. 

The deer have trimmed the juniper.  They eat our apple tree branches as high as they can reach too!

Nest of sticks and snow -- Maybe a robin?

Bittersweet -- birds will eat it too

Black Haws left for the birds

Skeleton of a paleolithic corn binder 

Hay loader could provide cover for birds or animals--no tracks around it

The back side of the barn -- needs some clean out.  Cows were sold 25 years ago and things have grown up since including a birch in the near silo!
Came back after an hour on the skis with only cold feet.  My ski shoes are a little too small for extra socks.  Very pretty out there, even though nothing stirring.  Probably after a few days will start to see some signs of life.   

Pretty good feeling to be in Myasthenia remission with a sound knee, and 40 acres to play one with enough snow to last into April!

5:30 this evening, 6 deer showed up in the yard all appear to have stumbled on my long trail through the snow and followed it into the orchard where they are busy chomping apple tree branches and eating the yard pine lower branches.  Guess my trail in the deep snow was just too inviting.  I think I will break trail over to the neighbor's farm where they can eat hay bales ;-)  Before I made the trail today, two deer only have been staying in the farm building area and cleaning up the feeders at night--for 2 months.  Now I have a herd!