January 09, 2011

Snowshoeing in the Highlands

Yesterday, in the Cape Breton Highlands, a friend and I show-shoed to the peak of French Mountain. We shuffled through fresh powdery snow, following the cut trail faithfully because of obvious foolishness of wandering off on one’s own. The only footprints we saw were that of moose, coyote and rabbit. – clear, clean registers, and most fresh.  On the tight, narrow trails, the sun dappled the snow, reaching through balsam fir and birch.

It’s hard not to hope to see one of these animals. Most people would choose wisely to keep well clear of the inherent danger that comes with intruding on creatures that could kill. Pretty well equipped, we carried all manner of survival gear including a tidy little pack that held noise canisters that doubled as flares. The thought of using these little firecrackers was beyond exciting (“firecracker” rather understates it). We were very tempted to try one in the parking lot but were able to overcome the stupidity of that notion.

The only thing we saw that resembled an animal was a deep impression of a moose that had taken a rest in the snow. A great pile of fresh droppings had been deposited, and huge tracks led away from it.

Oh, the temptation to follow those tracks into the woods, but oh, how stupid that would have been. We resigned ourselves to the thrill of seeing poop. Later, as a bonus, we came across that of a coyote.

It was a spectacular winter day in a spectacular part of the planet. Check this: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ns/cbreton/natcul.as

Credit where credit is due: my friend Janice Evans took the photos; my brother Tom gave me the 2010 Olympic mitts, which were very warm.

An oxymoronic aside: I was reading Christopher Isherwood’s My Guru And His Disciple when I came across this from his diary –  “It wasn’t that I had lost all belief….but I was no longer whole hearted”. This is how I sometimes think about my work.

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