Signs of Life in Stowe Snow

At what seems to be the end of the shortest winter I can remember, we drove last week to the North-East, and up a thousand feet, for 13+ hours. The very pleasant Von Trapp Lodge in the North mountains of Vermont fortunately had great early March 2012 snow.

The strangest sign of mountain life were the toboggan tracks from some unseen fun-loving four footed animal. The biggest suspect, after much discussion with many locals, is that it might be a Fisher Cat, a local relative of the weasel, on the West coast it is said that it can eat a porcupine.






The right hand image enlarges the top of the left hand view showing a long glide, a few quick steps and then another long glide. The animal has captured the classic Cross-Country Ski magic motion of gliding – stepping and then more gliding.  Bigger animals just glide along on very old wooden boards: (A hidden spy-cam in the woods took the video in the link below).

You never know who you’ll see in the mountains. There are 100 km of frequently groomed trails, and other wilder ones too. A log cabin high up in the forest shelters an employee who sleeps there for a few nights at a time and serves delicious hot soup to the handful of visitors.


At the end of the week the temperature warmed; the snow started sliding off the roofs

and the maple sap started running.

Just outside the Lodge area which only uses traditional buckets, there are  modern commercial sap operations linking the trees with plastic pipe, one way valves and vacuum pumps which look as though they could suck a tree dry. But they have to be inspected frequently because moose often wander through and accidentally rip out the pipes.

Meanwhile, back in the rented house great joy was had around fabulous meals eaten with mountainous appetites.


Winter Security

Cross country skiing in Perrysburg this winter has been on thin snow, but there have been four good days so far. The key to a good trail is enough snow and preferably have it frozen into good grooves.


We had thin powdery snow which barely covered the grass and gave NO directional Security (unlike this photo from a few years ago). Down on the bayou the bare ice there also provided no security and led me into another crash, this time with a tree stump, resulting in another bump.


The interesting thing is the damage was surprisingly detected a week later by the millimeter full body scanner


at Detroit airport where I was taken aside for a pat-down, right on my sore spot.   In this country of very expensive medical treatment here is an interesting almost-free one available to all. Don P. is investigating for me how deep it can measure.

 I was flying to Montreal where the students happened to be protesting their first fee hike in 40 years, not appreciating that 40 years inflation had reduced their fees to ridiculously low amounts.

The pepper spray (from the Globe and Mail paper next day) looked serious. I only saw scary Security police and heard much shouting.


Back home the strange weather has given my snowdrops a snowy Security blanket


 which shielded them from the coldest temperatures.  They happily opened up fully the next time the sun shone. (they’ve been in flower for 4 weeks now).


Unlike our poor rhubarb which got badly bruised by the frost when it came up too soon in the unusual warmth of this year’s January. 

Meanwhile Mr. Pinot never tires of performing with no Security net (and he has no front claws!), walking the rail of near-terror, in return for just a little well earned reckognition and admiration.

Winter Works

Finally a snow fall last weekend with snow so pure that when I shovelled it off the balcony it left a puff of the finest snow smoke in the air – sorry, no sun so no photo.

First Winter Works job: shovel the bee hive doorway. A few hours later they were pitching out their aged dead. I’m assured it’s a sign of a healthy hive!








Next task was to set the Cross Country Ski Trail for the first time this winter. There was enough snow for two full days excellent skiing.  The trail now has room for 3 levels of skier. The delightful trail on the second day showed that it is shared with deer and cayote judging by the tracks. All I need now is more snow and more skiers.

(The map is under development. Google mistakenly thought I was trying to edit their view of Perrysburg and I failed an audit of my changes by one of their “trusted reviewers”!)

Meanwhile “Munger Mogul” looks like this, with a nice herringbone climb up and easy glide down towards “Belazi Bowl”.








The final winter work is the perhaps surprising task of watching for meteorites.  Brian Pejovic in “Man and Meteorites” says about 10 tons per day of space stuff land on earth. Roughly speaking that converts to just over one small (1/8″ or 3 mm dia) piece per square mile per day. Winter ice is the perfect place to look for one.  I checked that they don’t melt through even though they’re very hot when they land by heating a variety of different size stones, from the dirt road by the river,

to yellow/orange color (about 1000 C or 2000 F).

I put them on ice and watched them partially sink as they melted the ice and cooled.

By the time they had completely cooled they had only sunk about 2/3 of their size, no matter whether they were large or small. (Big ones have more heat but would have to melt more ice before they could sink out of sight). So this shows that hot meteorites probably don’t melt through ice when they land.

Another test I did for the bigger ones was to lob a 5 lb. rock onto about 2″ thick ice, from a height of around 20 ft.  While the rock punched a hole in the ice, the water behind it prevented it from going through like a stone through a glass window. The rock simply bounced a short distance away.







From all this I conclude it is well worth watching for odd stones in the very small to tennis ball size range when you are out on the ice.

One of the best ways to increase your chances of finding one is to increase the search. So if all the blog readers look we actually might catch one. Let us know if you do? A bigger one is very valuable – pick it up carefully with a clean paper to keep it pure.