According to a calendar that hangs on our pantry door, winter begins on December 21. Here in the interior Adirondacks, that’s hogwash. Since mid-October, one snowfall after another has fluttered down upon us and, in most places, the ground has frozen to the consistency of concrete. Step into the woods and you lose your feet— unless, of course, you’re wearing snowshoes.
A few days ago, I made a trek on boreal footwear to a beaver pond two or three miles deep in the woods. My friend, neighbor, and partner in Curiously Adirondack video production Josh Clement was with me. When he and I meet to discuss business and make creative decisions, we often hold a meeting on the move. This time of year, that usually involves skis or snowshoes. Here’s Josh, on the shore of the pond the beavers created. A moment before, he saw one of the rodents grooming itself, but before he could pop a photo, it plunked into open water and disappeared.
When you point a camera at someone, the favor (if one can call it that) is often returned. Below you’ll find a shot Josh took of me. One of the troublesome bindings on my LL Bean snowshoes had let loose yet again, and I was in the process of digging out the shoe and strapping it back on, all while trying not to tumble. If I look a bit tense, it’s because I was a bit tense. In the deep, wet snow, the going was challenging. Earlier, I’d taken a fall when one of my snowshoes plunged into a watery hole between sedge hummocks. Wind had blown the snow in that spot three and four feet deep, and righting myself hadn’t been easy.
Still, oh my, it was magnificent out there. The weather was mild, with no wind and the temperature just below freezing. A recent snow had come down on a warm night, and wet flakes had piled up thick and fleecy on the limbs of conifers. With so much fluffy powder everywhere, absorbing sound, there was hardly a peep to be heard until something like rolling thunder reached our ears from the direction of Moose Mountain. An avalanche! We heard one blast, then a second. It made us glad we were far from the nearest steep slope. Safety is critical in the back country at all times of year, but especially in winter.
I’ll close with five photos. The first shows a black-capped chickadee, the only bird we saw during our outing. The second and third show a beaver lodge, in winter and in June. The fourth and fifth show the pond the beavers built, again, in winter and in June. It’s a fabulous thing about the Adirondacks: you can come to the same spot month after month, and it’s never, ever quite the same. Which is why a forthcoming book of mine will feature this same pond, contemplated over the course of a year.