Saturday, June 22, 2024

Details, missed

Editor | March 15, 2023 2:00 AM

So the other day the boy and I tried to ski and it was a miserable affair. We both have skis with the skins “built into” them which is to say, you can’t take them off.

This works great when the snow is icy or you have to slog up a hill, but the it’s no fun when the snow is in a sticky state, which it often can be in March.

It started out good enough, but as soon as we hit the shade of the woods, the snow started to stick in gobs.

I understand you can wax these skis right over the skins and I would have tried it, but I didn’t have any wax.

So we slogged through the woods with a good 6 inches of snow stuck to them. I’d stop every now and then to knock the snow off, but it did little good.

On the way back, we took the skis off entirely, strapped them to our packs and hiked out.

It was way more pleasant.

This winter the snow has had plenty of time to settle and the base layer is pretty supportive, which is to say, you can walk on it with boots.

The walk didn’t take too long and just before we got to the car we saw a three-toed woodpecker hammering away at a tree.

Three-toeds are pretty common in burned forests, especially the first three to four years immediately after a fire.

But this forest hasn’t burned — at least not yet. The lodgepole have simply reached the end of their lifespan — almost all of them were planted after the 1929 fire and so they are slowly, but surely, dying.

The forest is evolving. The white pine are trying to make a go of it, but many struggle with blister rust. The hemlocks are sprouting up here and there. The larch are probably doing the best out of everything and the spruce are doing fairly well, particularly in the wetter areas.

Research shows that birds are able to see far more of light spectrum than humans are, particularly ultraviolet light. So they see this woods far differently than you and I.

Birds are detail oriented creatures. On another sunny day I watched a pair of American dippers working the surface of the water. Dippers normally dive into the water and flip rocks, looking for insects and fish.

But these guys were working the surface film. It wasn’t until I looked very closely with a telephoto lens and in just the right light that I could see thousands of minute midges on the surface.

The dippers, of course, saw them easily and were busy picking them off. Like eating a bowl of rice, one grain at a time.

And so you can’t help but wonder about all the life that goes unnoticed by the average bloke.

If we can barely see what the birds see readily, what else are we missing?