Breaking Trail

I was excited to get going on a great un-day walkabout. We hadn’t been on a good adventure for a while due to my week-long flu. During that time, the only walking we got in was to the neighborhood movie store and back.

Oscar was a bit confused as to why I was in bed all day, but was totally supportive and cuddled up regardless of missing our normal routine.

I had been thinking about breaking trail for a loop behind our new home that we are building south of town. There is so much value to having a great trail right out your back door. I think most homes in the Yukon can boast about having one.

There is a fire-safe corridor behind our lot that wraps around to a seemingly dead end. Oscar and I checked this all out in the summer and it was major bushwhacking and avoiding the stump and fallen-tree obstacles, mixed in with bumpy ground and buggy swamps.

The beauty of winter is you can make your own trails in the snow with the right equipment. Today it was snowshoes.

We walked down the property line, out to a steep hill leading to the wide corridor. Following down to the dead end, for the summer, I broke trail around the fallen trees and over the stumps.

I was already huffing and puffing as the snow was soft, deep and untouched. Arriving at the swamp, I was quite excited about no bugs or “soaker surprises”.

As we entered, we found tracks – couple of humans and maybe one or two dogs. Or one human and a dog twice. I looked up and noticed bright-blue flagging, identifying a new trail system. Well … new to us.

I had a sneaky suspicion I might know these trail blazers. I know this guy who goes around this area with his snowmobile and lays a single track for cross-country skiing.

Last spring, Oscar and I had the best skiing ever on one of these tracks way down the other end from our lot. I was so thrilled to have this already on the go in our new backyard.

We zigzagged through the swamp and followed beside it, deeper and deeper into unfamiliar forest. It was a lovely temperature, and an alpenglow colour adorned the sky.

The trail started to gradually climb and I took note of the huge trees, wondering how old they might be. Oscar had run ahead, navigating with great joy and stopping only for a moment to sniff each animal-crossing intersection. Rabbits, mostly.

The slight incline became steeper and I was looking hard through the trees for mountains. We were still pretty low for views, but I could make out Mount Sima, behind us, and looked on for Mount Lorne to the right of us.

Still thick with trees, I thought this would be a great spot for a lookout tower. By this time, I had wandered off the trail and Oscar was right behind me. I led us around, under and through some willow bushes and I could see another trail intersection just a few steps ahead.

A much-more-prominent track, following a long expanse of a cut line, was now our path. It seemed to follow forever into the sunset. Next time I think we will explore this farther south, but today we will go north. Oscar had no booties, so I knew I’d be carrying him with an extended adventure today.

We were both in complete bliss – one of those magical winter days.

The view ahead of us had a pinky purple sky and a bright-blue section of a mountain framed by tall trees and a very straight trail. I was inspired but had no sketchbook, and the camera battery had just died. I did find an herbal tea package in my pocket … and a pencil. So I scribbled a little vista and carried on.

The trail took us down into a creek bed that was shallow, allowing a small volume of water to pass under the snowmobile pack. The hill ahead of me was steep and Oscar motored up it, without missing a beat, while I slowly climbed, letting the teeth of the snowshoes grip me to the slope.

At the top, I could see power lines in the distance and heard the hum of the highway. The trail petered out into the ditch and kept going to the right, and I looked up to the left and saw the corner of our property in view.

I was very pleased we didn’t get lost and had found the perfect loop that I am so sure will give us years of enjoyment.

We trucked along through powdery snow and, by now, Oscar’s homing device was engaged and he knew exactly where we were and proudly led us to our starting point.

Well, Mike was still stacking wood so I lent a hand and put Oscar in the truck to warm up (his legs and feet were completely covered in snow knots). I must dig out his booties before the next trek!

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