By Kay Knox
All the begging I did to get back to snowshoeing following hip replacement surgery in October has certainly paid off. Old Man Winter’s many clear days have been perfect for getting about on those big awkward feet.
If I limp, no one can tell. Better still was our timing for dog-sitting. Jake, the big black curly poodle, came to stay early January and in mid-January I was given the go-ahead to begin snowshoeing. Doggie and I enjoy our shared daily outings.
Today, Jake lay back down when I picked up a pen. Eventually noting action on my part, he will stand patiently, watching while I don extra layers, scarf, boots and toque. After the door opens, he will dash ahead of me only to have to wait again at the bottom of the steps while I strap on my unwieldy gear.
“Are you ready?” I ask him. As I take sturdy poles in mittened hands, he does a turn-about leap and we’re finally on our way. After that he doesn’t care how slow I am.
When Jake and I go with my husband John to visit Jake’s cat, he spends time outside in his own back yard. Somehow he knows that he and I will be dropped off partway home to walk or snowshoe the rest of the way.
About a week ago, almost every one of our well-trodden snowshoe trails along nearby lanes was disturbed by a snowmobiler. I forgave him when one of his two small passengers happily waved from the toboggan being carefully towed behind the machine.
When energetic friends came from afar, we explored further, going along Wylie Creek. Together with my supportive, friendly Friday hiking group, we also snowshoed from Ray Road into North Thompson Park. With my penchant to go different places, I drove to Swanson Road for a spectacular plod on uneven tracks along the dike, listening to the North Thompson River swirl, gurgle, and tinkle within and around its icy covering.
Spotting a trail beginning with a short steep descent, I couldn’t resist. Soon we were on the island where I had picnicked alone in our early days here in Clearwater.
“You can circle right round,” a friendly enthusiast informed me after we observed our canines exchanging their own form of greetings.
Majerus Farm is always a favourite for repeated outings, and the partially-frozen waterfalls are always spectacular. More potential routes in Wells Gray Park await me, like the Flat Iron Trail and the one between Shadden Lookout and Spahatts Falls. Since I would be unable to descend to the foot of Moul Falls to see it in winter dress, I am not tempted to trek to the top viewpoint.
All those delightful outings were on pre-flattened snow, but with my hip strengthening, the inevitable happened. “I’ve been bushwhacking!” I announce to anyone who might (or might not) be interested. Jake and I take turns breaking trail – sort of!
And speaking of such, the challenge of our last Friday group’s jaunt was to find the somewhat cleared trail from our vehicles at the end of the air strip through to the bridge across Wylie Creek near the junction of Roads 1 and 12. In searching for the right route through the trees, the group split up, eventually meeting at said bridge.
Even doggies were worn out after leaping through deep untrodden snow. The next day, seeking the correct course that would keep us out of the machinery yard, I started from the Wylie Creek end. Somehow we’d missed several yellow ribbons.
The previous Friday had seen us circling past the new patch of clear-cut logging near Dutch Lake to the Clearwater River Trail and back down past the lake again. The options of places to go are wonderfully endless here.
But now doggie stirs, sensing the pen has done its job. I bundle up and we head out into the day’s chilly sunshine. Oh no, I suddenly think: Jake’s parents return soon – and they expect us to give him back …