This year the skating started for me on October 22 after I woke up to -22 C.
The morning before, the yard was full of deer prints. They had come and gone without us noticing. I took my bike out to investigate the tracks, with the intention of ending up were my husband was going to cut standing dead tees in the forest for firewood.
I had been biking a lot, not quite ready to trade my wheels for skis. There was one inch of snow in the bush, and where the snow had been disturbed, frozen mud came through.
Biking frozen trails with a bit of snow was an easy ride. Of course there are things one has to look out for. Stumps hiding under the snow are treacherous, and biking uphill is definitely harder, but overall I like biking a lot in these conditions.
I pushed my bike uphill while eyeing the ground, seeing moose and elk tracks; only caribou was missing. A few years back I did see a caribou here, it probably wandered down the mountains from the small ibex caribou herd, east of Kusawa. But lately I haven’t heard of many sightings.
I biked towards the lake, to see if there was still open water. I left the bike on shore, tested the ice and was pleasantly surprised that it held me. Under the inch of snow was a smooth surface, perfect for skating. I walked towards the creek coming into the lake. The ice on the creek had been broken open recently by an animal — dark water amidst white snow. In the swamp grass I couldn’t see its tracks. On the lake there were muskrat and coyote tracks, but these animals seem too small to have left such a big, dark gash in the ice.
The next day I went to the lake with my skates, on the bike again, and I wondered what it would be like to bike on the ice. I knew from previous expeditions in spring that it is often very good biking on lakes: the ice is still solid, but rough enough to give traction.
This time it was perfect. The inch of snow on the slick surface gave me enough traction. The weather was gorgeous — very calm, and blue skies.
I stayed close to the shore — in the past I have fallen through the ice. I biked a few rounds, enjoying the sun. But having brought my skates I put them on; skating in the wild is heavenly. I hope to go again before more snow prevents such pleasure.