Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Ski the New England Back Country
Good thing, too, because there sure aren't any.
You can't let your heart be broken by what happens on land other people control. Human destructiveness races against human enlightenment to see what sort of future our species will have. Timber harvesting is a temporary inconvenience that can shut down a fun zone for months, reopen it in a new form for a couple of years, and then really shut it down for more than a decade. Some of the thickets I was pushing through today are almost 20 years old. So much was cut that the new growth is all the same age and all vigorously competing for sunlight.
The oldest cuts offer a few looser passageways. I don't know how much has to do with sapling attrition and how much is because the soil and slope did not favor the kind of dense growth that makes bushwhacking laughable. I crossed the stream at a lower point than I did yesterday, nearly face-planting into a pool as I did so. It would not have been worth it without someone to take video of me doing it, so y'all didn't miss anything. I was just as happy to stay dry.
The new growth favors small animals. I saw lots of snowshoe bunny tracks, as well as small rodents -- field mice, squirrels. Deer have made their paths as well. These are not always passable by humans or aimed where humans feel like going at the moment.
There was also this beech tree with a clump of grass growing out of it about 10 feet up.
With the leaves off, I could see the islands of old growth above the tops of the small stuff blocking me. Thus I could connect the gaps and thinner bits to wend my way to where surviving tall trees retained the open understory we used to enjoy across the entire mountain.
These islands are very small. But eventually I made it to uncut beech.
Approaching the drainage I remembered from years back, I crossed a skidder road aiming pretty straight up the hill. I scanned anxiously for signs that there had been more than just logging. The snow was undisturbed. Good. No ATVs or snow machines. No truck tracks. No new structures.
We called the drainage The Bowl, but it wasn't really a bowl. It is a system of converging ravines. You can cut shallow lines down the sides of them or aim deeper and steeper. Today I did not even go to the edge. I still had to make my way back through the defenses to get back to my own woods.
The skidder road invited a few turns. I traversed out into the open woods to keep the speed down. I can't afford to get injured, even if I did call for help. Still, I can't resist a little twisting where there's room.
Yesterday I had established a route down. Today I wanted to get back over to it, so I had stayed close to that contour as I explored. Reversing course, I got back to the escape route and worked my way down along a similar route as yesterday's. I skipped the slash patch where I'd gone down abruptly. It was only funny once.
Now on with the day's routine chores before the work week resumes.