Saturday, 2 January 2016

Off piste with Scylla

It is always an adventure cross country skiing from the back door of the farmhouse. With the first snow of the season there is just enough of the white stuff to cover most of the grass but not deep enough to make me sink to my knees with each step (no gliding in that much snow...) as I break through virgin snow.

I love skiing from the house. It is such a treat not to have to get in the car and so nice to have the companionship of Scylla, our Australian shepherd. But it is probably not everyone's cup of tea.

For bona fide skiers conditions are probably less than ideal. First of all there is the need to break a trail. And then there are the fences to be crossed between the fields which lie between our house and the entrance to the woods.
The split cedar rail fence at the end of our field.
The next fence has the added challenge of two heights of barbed wire in addition to the spit cedar rails which have mostly collapsed
Entering the woods is easy for Scylla but I have to do the limbo to get underneath the wire fence.

Once in the woods there are further obstacles, all of which need to be circumvented; branches and other trash on the path, the occasional fallen tree, pools which have not yet frozen in low-lying spots and barely exposed stones which would be quite unfortunate to hit on a nice downward slope when one was enjoying a bit of well-earned speed (having herringboned up the hill to get to the top).
A fallen tree lying across the trail
Protruding branches and barely covered rocks
Here we need to make a big detour to avoid the open water in the lowest part of the trail
A rock not quite covered by snow

In the woods it is clear that the snow may be new for us but many have gone before - there are tracks of deer, rabbits, small rodents to name a few.
I love the way the animals, especially the larger ones like deer often prefer the trail to forging a path through the woods
Deer footprint
Here our paths diverge - I to the left, the deer to the right
I will never be a skilled and elegant skier, skimming along the snow with style and grace. The challenges of this trail with its daunting steep hills are much more suited to my rough and ready "never say die" enthusiasm.
It is difficult to capture but this hill is short and steep followed by an equally daunting ascent . At least there's no open water at the bottom...

All those tracks make a ski much more stimulating for Scylla than a walk along the road or through the park in the city. But she is also all about playing the angles. As we head out she will never go first - no breaking trail for her. Whenever I stop to turn around and see if she is following she freezes and stalwartly also looks behind - another scout on the lookout for any danger sneaking up from behind.
Having decided to go back Scylla is happy to lead the way

Once we are ready to turn around and head back she is very happy to take the lead. The snow is easier for her to navigate now that it is nicely packed under my ski trail.

The fences provide a challenge for Scylla too. But of a different nature. Instead of scrambling over them she needs to find an opening to squeeze her considerable girth through.
Scylla squeezes through a gap in the fence

Now that we're back in the warmth of the house, having eaten lunch, it is time for a well-deserved lie-down on the red couch.
At home at last

1 comment:

  1. You are very energetic Eileen. Thanks for the views. Cherie