Trekking Tales: Different seasons, changing scenes

We turned off onto a little-used, dead-end trail along the high bank on the southwest side of the Clearwater River

In early January, a couple of years ago, two-legged and four-legged friends and I were snowshoeing (actually just two of us had extra big feet) parallel to Highway 5. We turned off onto a little-used, dead-end trail along the high bank on the southwest side of the Clearwater River near the orange bridge crossing Clearwater River. Snow was falling gently as it had been for several hours. A feeling of peace and tranquillity accompanied us, even though doggie was darting back and forth on short exploration trips. He now ran free, no leash attached, for he was safe. We had left the speeding, swhooshing, highway traffic behind us.

“I walked into a cobweb,” my friend suddenly announced. We stopped to look at its remnants and discovered a star-studded filament waving gently from an evergreen bough beside us. Each tiny, shiny, dangling thread had perfect snowflakes spaced along its length. Many more caught our attention after that.

“Are all the snowflakes really a unique shape?”

Different or not, all hung on, attached to the almost invisible cobweb, drawing our amazed, but quiet, exclamations. Below us, the sound of the rippling, invisible river provided background music matching our admiration for this awesome sight of miniature snowflakes drifting lazily before us.

“Try seeing the view in a different way,” an artistic Kaslo friend had once advised me, as we drove beside beautiful Kootenay Lake. “Concentrate on the shape of the scene in front of you. Forget colour and trying to recognize things. Just look at how the pieces are arranged, layered, balanced.”

Driving north from Barriere in late winter 2011, I suddenly started noticing and admiring the deciduous trees – without their foliage. I wasn’t trying to identify them; I was absorbed by their widely varying shapes, as she had suggested.

By the time we were north of Little Fort, none of the branches were bare; fresh, white snow clung to every branch and twig.  Old man winter was still cloaking the nakedness of the trees.  Spring suddenly seemed a long way off. Only a couple of months later we were exclaiming over the multiple shades of green; the trees’ skeletons were “clothed” once more, providing welcome summer shade.

We tend to await fall’s coming with a mixture of emotions, as summer fades and colours change once more. Another reminder, and a delightful sight, is the morning mist drifting down the rivers, hanging over its backwaters and above Dutch Lake. Tiny curls of mist spiral upwards before dissipating and disappearing forever – or at least until the following morning. One morning in late August, wee wisps of ‘clouds’ floated just above the surface of Dutch Lake; ‘real’ clouds were reflected within its depths.

Now, early 2012, ice may be making walking and driving difficult and treacherous, but snow remains in protected places. Wylie Creek is invisible under its white cloak, as it approaches Brookfield Creek. Absence of any sound of water gurgling below and the presence of animal tracks on its surface add to the illusion. Brookfield Creek is slightly bigger and more boisterous. A transparent ice “dish” occupies a depression in the snow, noisy water beneath it pushing up the icy base, but not breaking it. Circlets of ice float on other sections, held captive by snowy banks.

 

Outside our windows, along roads and trails, the colourful changing of the seasons is one of many rewards for living here in this spectacular North Thompson Valley.