Breaking Trail as Seasons Change

HPIM0454

HPIM0450

Yet another rain is coming tonight so I strapped (the old term), stepped into cross country skis as our golden ‘Mari’ picked out the ball of the day and we set out down lake. Conditions were good, slick not wet. We followed the first outlet which fills a small pond to and across a dirt road and into the woods on an old logging path. The path soon disappeared into new growth with an uneven obstacle filled journey ahead. The golden can go under and around small bush tree fallen log bramble and briar where the rabbits can go.
There is a feeling of freedom in leaving known path. I shift in zigzag moves looking for the (easiest), less difficult way forward. A sense of direction and fondness for a feeling of motion in emotion my guide.
The woods are silent but for our breathing, snap of breaking branch, crunch swish of skis traversing snow. Perfect circles of brown under the evergreen trees, a dry place to stop, gather thought and bearing, to feel the freedom in this live free or die state I am in. Fully alive, partially lost, physically strong and breaking trail in woods and wetlands seldom tread by man. A half hour in I find remnants of what was once a field property border, an old stone wall. Built boulder by rock by stone in clearing a field which is now reclaimed by the forest wood growth it was before man attempted to tame it.
The nature of this place laughs this day on my clumsy country crossing. Direction change from South to South West as the wall which appears to have cornered the field disappears with my tracks. Sense of direction and feeling for light penetrating clouds now carry me toward a grand wetland depression in forested hills. I know it as a continuation of the water flow from lake to pond to steam to trickles that drain to wetlands. Until today it was only a view from an old fire lane that traverses conservation land.
Find the filtered sunlight and search the distance for the open space beyond the wood. It is there wetland lives and when I find it I will follow North East from trail breaking toward broken trail I know.
A flash of white on a hill ahead and above me is followed by another as I focus. I halt and signal the golden to stay quiet for it is a family of deer on one of their familiar trails. We had seen tracks, rabbit deer perhaps moose but there is magic in the meeting! Our silence allowed them to move calm and free, our scent lost in light breeze.
We climb the hill and follow tracks to the SW end of the wetland. A break in the trees frames the view. Home to the deer, to me it is a dear moment in viewing. With no easy way down I remove the skis and use the pole straps to bundle them. Now hiking in 4 to 12″ of snow I can follow a more direct route. We move up and down hill to gully to hill, jumping across streamlets and slow and careful on the weak ice of pieces of wetland.
Joys in the movement, the sights, the feel, the physical cost paid back ten times in sore satisfaction. My mind map of the woods and wetland expanded. The view from the road is now a topographical memory of depth sound sight and feeling and on this day it feels like home.

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