Wednesday, April 4, 2007

porcupine and blue dot trail

I went out this morning for a ride in the park. The snow trails are still mostly hard-packed in the woods, but where the sun has hit them for the last few days, they're showing some signs of rot.

I was riding along on one of the wider trails when I came up behind a porcupine as it wobbled down the trail. It didn't look back at me but continued up the trail as I waited, then followed for a few yards. Then it left the trail to tuck itself behind a spruce tree. Its clawed feet didn't even leave tracks on the snow. The color of the quills ranged from dark brown to the color of straw. I could see why it's so easy for these guys to blend into the plants in the park. I made a clicking noise and the porcupine fluffed up its quills, making it look bigger as it held its ground.

I didn't want to bug it too long so took off to continue my ride. That's the second time this winter I've seen one of our more elusive critters and not had a camera on me (the other one was a lynx), but it was nice just to watch it for awhile.

I had planned to just stay on some wider trails but at an intersection with a little singletrack, I stopped to check out the bike tracks. Hmm, I thought, it's the Blue Dot Trail. Named for the blue dots painted on the trees, Blue Dot in the summer is a bumpy, rooty, twisty little knot of trail. I've not spent much time on it because it gets pretty wet & slippery. But today, it was just what I wanted.

The packed snow was only about a foot wide so riding or stepping off the trail would mean sinking almost to my knees into the soft snow. After almost biffing, I lowered the pressure in my tires to get a bit better control. The tires on my snowcat rims held the trail as I wound around spruce trees and crossed the mushing trails several times. One or two bikers had been on the trail before me but I didn't run into anyone at all.

Now that it's warming up, I'm sorry I didn't ride more this winter - I allow too much to get in the way. It makes me wish that this micro-season of sunshine and warmer days with still-hard snow trails would last just a bit longer. Sure I want to get onto the dirt, but it's a long pause between the snow season and the day the trails are declared "open" for biking on the dirt. I'll pull out the road bike in the interim, but I'll be thinking about riding on the Blue Dot Trail for awhile.

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