Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Snowshoeing - an Adrenaline Sport?

Yesterday was a gorgeous, sunny day. Blue sky, minor breeze and the white plains of the Vatudalen lake just invited to explore the lake, the Vedjeön island and the little inlets and lagoons and the banks, which we otherwise can see only in summer, from a different view point.

Our latest guests, Ola and Gunilla decided to explore the other side of the lake on cross country skis, while I wanted to try my new ridg skis, which I received from Ola as a gift. These are wooden, hand crafted, traditional nordic skis, fairly heavy, used for deep snow, without tracks. Perfect for our wild area where we don´t have much of snowmobile trails, and the only ones made are by our dog team and ocasionally our own snomachine.

The ridg skis are to become part of my workout equipment, beside snowshoes, nordic walking poles and 25kg boxing bag, as all this is a part of my workout program, which started about a month ago, but more on that sometime later.

The skis had no tie-out belts on the binding though, so I had to change plans before I buy them, and the snowshoes and walking telescopic poles came in handy for this trip.

It was a perfect trip, I highly recommend it to anyone in search of solitude, to sort out one´s thoughts or just to get a lone time and get-away from the daily buzz.

I walked to the trail that connects to the island, and there I dropped down onto the lake, which I zigged-zagged around the island and headed to our favourite beach, which we ocupy quite often in late spring and during summer, taking the dogs and puppies to have fun by the water. I reached a spot with a pile of feathers from a snow grouse and investigated it for a while. There were many moose tracks around and some were really deep and of a bit strange shape. Also fox tracks circulated the spot and I found where they came from. The fox brought it´s pray to the shore and munched on it´s delicious supper, protected from the wind in a small lagune, with birch and spruce trees around. I picked up a few of the beautifully colored feathers and stuck them to my braided hair as a decoration.

When I climbed up to the beach, I decided to take a few pictures of the old abandoned log barn, and then continue across the island to the other side of the lake, to see if I can find Ola and Gunilla and perhaps join them for a cup of coffee, before we head back home.

I thought it would be a cool photo, if I made some snow-shoe tracks infront of the building and as I was ending my process of making the tracks, I circulated a snowmachine track. But what is it, printed in it?

A huge bear foot print!

Fascinated, I started taking photos. I looked where the tracks came from and where they led. But I didn´t find any signs of the tracks continuing. They kind of ended at the place where I stood. As I slowly rose up and looked around, an unpleasant feeling of fear started to pulse through my body. To the right side, just couple meters from where I stood, was a den entrance, with the tracks leading to and from it, and some old dry grass spread around. Oh my god!, I thought. As a proper (and crazy) journalist, I quickly made photo of the track beside my snowshoe, for size comparison (otherwise the bunch at home will not bealieve me, when I later tell them stories of huge bear tracks - well, if I make it back home alive, that is).

The reason I got my senses together was that the tracks were fairly fresh. Not older than 2 days, given the recent melting and refreezing, no wind to blow the tracks and optically making them bigger, etc. They were simply huge fresh tracks. The bear had to wake up from his winter hybernation as the past days were really warm, sun shone and several days we had a warm spell of +5°C during the days, and no freezing at nights. He had to think it was time go get up (which is normally around April 14th, here in Jämtland). Proud of my evaluation, but scared to wake the beast up (which would have been very critical, as there is no worse way to meet a bear, than when it´s tired and starved), I slowly and quietly circulated around the den, hoping my vibrations on the snow and ground will not wake him up. I made a quick call to Jachym, to let him know where I was and what I saw and he decided to take a snowmachine and have a look around, while I began my journey across the lake back home.

Let me tell you, I honestly believe that I made the trip back in a snow-shoeing record time! :) And I also stretched my neck quite a bit during that excercise - from turning my head around so often :) Call me a whimp, I don´t want to become a part of the hunter and tourist story telling for the next generations, of the Czech girl that bravely conquered attacking moose with her dog team, but later got eaten by a half asleep bear.



Anna said...

Jeeezeez! What a snow-shoe tour you made!
Thank you so much for everything; taking care of Duni, for the hosting of me and Johanna (during our very short visit). We hope for puppies now, and look forward to meet you again in Kiruna in October!
Best regards from all of us

yukonmusher said...

i love the pic of the snowshoe next to the bear track. early one spring we were scouting trail for a trapline and went back out the next day to find a grizz had walked in every foot print made by us, very creepy.
just found your blog and enjoy it alot!