Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Taye lake 3

Back to the beginning; Biking on the Alaska ain't so bad, there's that feeling of freedom, when there is no car in sight.
And there's definitely a bigger variety of flowers blooming on the side compared to in the bush. 15 km. Is enough for me though,
I was happy to turn into the Taye lake bush road. And right away I felt surrounded by the birds and little animals.
A gopher ran ahead of me, a funny sight, stopped, stood up and dove into its hole as I passed. As soon as
I was feeling smug, about whoever would like to bike on an paved road, when there's this ,I hit a sandy section.
Oh my. but as the road is flat, it wasn't that bad. The soil in this area is sandy, but only small sections of road where
too soft for comfortable biking. The animal tracks show really well. There's moose, bison, different carnivores and
little animal tracks. Most of them recent. Lucky for me, the one set of bear prints, is softened around
the edges and full of small forest debris. It's older.
The forest most of the way is small Aspen trees. There are stretches where they are only 3 meters high. I see
on an air photo of the area that the road actually follows a band of Aspen. These roads here are probably
made by the people from Champagne. And probably a very long tome ago. I actually find one old trail, that is on the map,
but I had never seen it. I mark it on the way back with my improvised bear bells.
The last few km. is a gentle downhill slope. It's wonderful to coast down and land by the lovely cabins.
I leave my bike by a fallen in structure in the open area. Tiny white flowers are blooming abundantly.
One day I figure out,again, which they are. It's the Pink family, which has many different species.

Taye lake 2

May 26

I see now on the map, that Taye lake is lower in elevation then we are. That surprises me, because
it is a long way from here, upstream. As the crow flies, it is only 15 km. But the way the Mendenhall
river flows, a very long paddle. That's why it meanders so much, it doesn't loose much elevation,
only One elevation line on the map, which stands for 100 feet.
That accounts though for the fact that it took me longer on the way back. I thought it was my stamina and the
strenght of my legs. Well that makes me feel good!
The way the roads went, I must have biked 60 km round trip. At the end my legs where very tired, at the end two uphill
sections, one out of the river crossing, and one up to the house, I didn't even try to paddle anymore.
I just walked up bike in hand.I left the bike 100 feet from my house, peeled of some clothes and fell into a lawn chair.
Bless the heat though. I love it.
(I am telling this story backwards.) Because of the heat, I did had a dive into the Mendenhall river.
Where the river starts,coming out of Taye lake it is quite lovely, with rocks and tiny rapids. On my bare feet,
I didn't venture off, trying to keep my footing on the slippery rocks. I plunged into a deep hole
in front of a big boulder,on which I sat to dry off. Feeling like a mermaid.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Have I got a story for you

May 27
Only I don't know the end. Nor the beginning.
I was tired today. I guess after biking 6 hours yesterday. And then there where some personal issues this morning, called life. And! my sister became a grandma today. What does that make me?....old. No, I actually felt overjoyed and young.
Anyway, I decided to lay down for a nap on the trampoline. Laying on my back, I was marvelling; the yet greener leaves of the poplars, the dark green of the spruce, with the blue, blue sky. The birds are singing. The sound of the wind. The bees buzzing. As I drift of to sleep, I here a "plop". Coming from a large poplar. It sounds like a chicken egg falling. I think eggs, because this tree was occupied by a woodpecker family last year. I am too lazy to go look. Next time I am woken up, it's by the screaming of a squirrel sitting high up in that tree. I don't see anything that could have upset her. I decide to watch and wait. And I love what unfold next. And here I wish I had the talent of Thorton W. Burgess.(1874-1965)(children's author and naturalist.) I come to realize the next hour that besides great talents as a writer, he must have had exceptional patience. Mom squirrel comes down from the branch she was screaming from, and by golly, there is a little baby squirrel in the grass. She grabs it by the neck and tries to bring it up the smooth poplar. She lets her baby try to crawl after her.The beautiful looking violet-green swallows are not so beautiful after all, and dive bomb at the mom several times.....? The little thing does get higher and higher after many attempts, sometimes trying to go backward upwards. After many attempts she or he realizes that there is a branch where she can hang out. This branch only being two metres of the ground. The brave soul has to go up 6 metres. That is where mom is with another baby in the old woodpecker hole. Mom does come and help once in a while. Once just carrying the baby, ( you gotta see it) this does work till she has to jump 2 feet. She leaves baby alone again, who does fall out of the tree again, now falls silently being caught by a Soapberry bush. She(he) lost its nerve and only makes 1 metre attempts and then heads into the direction of the bird feeder. As I don't have much patience, I decide to go get a snack. I am back in 3 min. ....Nothing in sight. Well they have to be somewhere. I hear screaming in a spruce tree (the other way, not by the bird feeder) One sounds like an alarm call and one like a distress call. I don't know if that's the same family. But I suppose so, because after a while I spot the two and one baby is still in the woodpecker hole. In the background the Flickers are screaming too. And suddenly they are using the tree for some foreplay, several times (three again and I observe something new; one fans its tail feathers beautifully). Another bird, a pleasant singer, unaware, decides to sing a song from the branch underneath the hole. I am getting bit by mosquitoes and decide to go in and type this story.
Later... All is quiet. And as I walk under the tree, one head pokes out of the hole, it looks like mom.

Taye lake

Yesterday, may 26, I had a fantastic day. There is so much to write. so I'll first give you some facts about the trip and then I will write.

biking;conditions excellent
9 am - left home
9.11 - Alaska hwy. -11 min
9.25 - 911 sign -25 min
9.30 - Mendenhall river -30 min
9.40 - Champagne turn-off -40 min
10 am- Taye lake turn-off -1 h
10.06- power line -1 h 6 min
10.46- road jct on the right -1 h 46 min
11.15- look-out -2 h 15 min
11.45- cabins -2 h 45 min
the trip back took 3 hours

Sunday, May 25, 2008


I am happy to announce that 'Harry' has babies! The Hairy Woodpecker lives with us year round. When the Flickers were so noisy, I actually did notice that the Hairy Woodpeckers took second stage, and quietly went about their business. Now it is their babies that make the most noise in our yard. According to the Yukon bird book its early for the young to hatch. Mind you spring did start early, it just never evolved into much. Glory, to this weekend though, it is summer.

Today I am spending my day in the yard, to be with the two men in my live, who are home today. And I am doing some yard work and gardening. Alexander noticed a bird that kept flying away as he approached to work on a project. He found a nest in a tuft of grass. Indeed a Junco has 5 little eggs in its nest. According to my log the Juncos where here April 29. So within a month they were laying eggs. My book tells me incubation takes 15 days.It be neat to keep an eye out for the young. Remind me June 8.

Other observations: yesterday in a little slough close to the river, I spotted a pair of ducks. They turn out to be a male Northern Shoveler and a male Ring-necked duck.
There are dark, they look totally black, butterflies fluttering around. I suppose they are Red-disked Alpines. Which is an Erebia. In my garden there is lots happening too, but as it is not totally wild, (it is wild compared to any garden I know) I suffice to say that the bluebells (Mertensia paniculata),Jacob's-ladder (Polemonium),Northern Jasmine (Androsace septentrionalis) and the Northern Gooseberry (Ribes oxyacanthoides) are blooming. Blues and whites. Well I do also like to say that we are eating salads with, Fireweed, Plantain, Bedstraw, and two other very well known ones, and the more tasty ones for that, but I can't think of there names now.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Well, I don't really have to write anything today, because when you listen to the weather report, you know that it is just gorgeous here. Real summer heat. Shorts, cold drinks, sunhats, the whole bit.
As keeper of wild places you know I like to go from here, without using the car. But this kind of heat calls for a treat. I drove to Mendenhall landing, where the Mendenhall river flows into the Takhini river. I did make it a multi-purpose trip. We haul our own drinking water. Normally my husband gets it from Stony creek on the way to work. Today I got it from the Takhini river, where it is still running totally clear, right out of Kusawa lake. And I collect cans for the recycling money. All that to make me feel better about driving .

I park my car right by the landing. Walk on the muddy edges of the Mendenhall river towards the Takhini river. The mud is nice and soft, and staying close to the shore it is not too soft. This time of year the rivers here are very low. The mountains are still frozen. I am always still amazed that there is water in the rivers, because there is not much precipitation here. For these mountains to give so much water they are bigger then I even can imagine.
There is a spotted sandpiper. (of course he doesn't hang around when I walk by, but I get to snatch a quick picture.) By the sound, I think there are more, but these shorebirds are kind of... They scream, well make their sound, and fly off and blend in with the shoreline. On the Takhini river, the shore is more gravelly. Gravel on top of mud, still soft. I cross a channel to the Island there. The original island is grassy and willows with a few trees. But now it is surrounded by great beaches and gravel bars. I do go bare foot, to reach another few gravel bars that are exposed. My feet are still sensitive, having been in boots all winter. I try to step on the bigger rocks in the gravel. Crossing the channels between the bars is very, very cold on the ankles. There are still chunks of ice on the shadow side of the river.

Oh heaven, I brought a towel and a book. I go here every year in May and know that there is a lovely little pool behind one little island close to the main one. Today it is the size of a large hot tub. Not quite that hot. But definitely warmer then... frozen, as the water has been heating in the sun. I dive in twice! Yukon swimming, I love it! It's kind of my thing, most people think I am crazy. Well not when they're from Quebec. I have two friends,(from Quebec) who share my passion and actually will out do me in endurance.
I stretch out on my towel and read under the blue blue sky, hence the sunburn.


If money grew on trees..... Yes I would be very rich. The trees are green! I was in town for two days, as I too do need some money. After work, my best friend Sue Herbrick came out with her son. We all noticed the waves of Green on the way here. The Yukon is truly incredible the way that one day it is bare, and the next day..... (No comparison though to my financial state).
Sue and I had a walk in the wilds. And after that our sons showed us videos (digital camera) that her son just shot. Again, ( I was supposed to look at the focus of their attention) I couldn't believe the green in the background.
As you know I love it when a friend walks with me. The focus is not so much on Nature really, while walking, we're talking, which is worth more then any amount of money can buy. We walk to 'moose skull lake' and back. And to me talking like that is very satisfactory. I get fresh air , my body is active, in an environment that is totally harmonious, and the bond of friendship is deepened. In between our conversations we do notice Mother Nature, and mention it in between our sentences. In the lake Sue counts 25 ducks. And I see that the little shrimp are there. I take note , that I don't know much yet about these creatures that apparently appear, also in great abundance, few days after the ice is out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Surprise Trail

I know this guy, who, when I talk about my adventures in the wild (I have been enjoying hiking even before I came to the Yukon 18 years ago) But when I talk to him, he gets this sparkle in his eyes. Now I know why; He is the master of wilderness trails. Today I had the good fortune to come upon one of his trails. It took me two and a half hours to come to a certain spot, which without some kind of trail, would have taken me 3. I can't go into too much detail, because here in the Yukon (maybe everywhere) people are very secretive about 'their' certain spots. And rightfully so. But as I use this journal for future reference, I have to make some notes that make sense to me. I'll start in the middle, which is a certain hot spot. There I find an Artemisia (wild sage), it looks like the frigida, but has these distinct rosettes. Does anybody out there know what I mean? And! a grasshopper, don't know much about these either. It was about One inch long, black/yellow stripes and looked yellow in flight.
From there I take the trail and find blooming Northern Jasmine, tiny ones. This trail takes me into and old creek bed, which has now some water in it from the melted snow. Ah and then this new found trail going trough a beautiful pine forest. At some point I come to a fork, going right leads me to a wonderful high spot, I continue left and follow a drainage area, which brings me to the end of today's hike, A little lake, gorgeous! A pair of Green-winged Teals appear. They swim kind of in the middle and then hang around the opposite edge, the male in the grass. I hear a sound. One that I don't like, like a breaking branch. It could have been anything or nothing. But the ducks fly up and disappear into the trees. I don't know if they leave because of that sound, there was a delay, they might have just left to go to their nesting spot, because they forgot about me. Anyway, while singing and ode to the lake, time for me to leave too.


I don't know much about frogs in the Yukon. But today and yesterday, I heard this sound on the edge of a lake. Both times, I couldn't find anything that would have made that sound. What do you think? Another sound that aroused my curiosity yesterday; It sounded like Ravens making a racket in the trees. It seemed peculiar, because I didn't see them. And in my experience Ravens are not shy. Today I got my answer: Fledgling Grey Jays! They are sooo funny, they are so big and not shy either actually, and make a racket when learning to fly. What a gift on this day where I call myself keeper of wild places for exactly 1 month. Ah more gifts today; The Violet-green Swallows arrived in our yard. And I found a last years egg of a Junco, very pretty.
Thank you very much.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


If you like, let me know what's blooming.
Around here in the wild, I have seen crocuses (still), the Snow Potentilla, red Bear Berries and the wind flower. The last one being Anemone parviflora. If you know Greek , you would have known. Anemone means; flower shaken by the wind. And the Coltsfoot.
Ah, I think I have written it all down for now, my mind is clear again. Ready for.....
A lupine.


One of my goals of dedicating myself to wild places, was to be more mindful in Nature. As it turns out I often find myself telling stories in my head, everywhere I turn there is a story; The clouds in the sky, the way the light catches the buds coming out, 'old' stories that I didn't write yet, It is truly unlimited.

And then your stories. The Joke is on me. Have you ever bought something, thinking you're so original, and then suddenly everybody's got it. Well I tell you people, that sometimes don't even know about my, keeping of wild places, adventure, approach me with nature stories that are far more exciting or touching then mine. I thank you all immensely for those though, because I believe through paying attention, amazing things are possible. Keep'm coming!

Nature provides me with the biggest laughs. Three weeks ago (I never yet posted this story) My favorite hiking partner, Jane Vincent, and I went to our favorite pond (911). We were biking on the ice, now this pond is totally full of birds. We were actually looking for birds. I think we spotted 2 Mallards. But of course the joke also was, we were looking for open water, where the birds would be. In the meantime we were biking away, like with skating, this provides a great feeling of freedom. Oops, we found open water, Jane fell through the ice. I think we can laugh about this for a long time. My reaction will also provide great laughs. I, always impulsive,rush to rescue her. Luckily for both of us, she screams: "stop, I'll get out." We both would have been in.

May 5 2008. I went back to the pond, still ice, but more birds. Two swans, some Mallards, 7 Seagulls, 2 possible swallows,1 Eagle and something whistling through the air, like an army-jet?(whatever, I'll ask my son) Anyway Mary suggest they were Goldeneyes!

May 18 2008. I made it back to the pond again. Approaching I already heard quite a quack-a-phone (do you know a word, which describes the sound hundreds of ducks make?). And what I saw made me laugh about my feeble attempts to be a birder; This is what it is about! So many, no way I could count them or identify them. I start clicking pictures. Soon swallows were circling around me.(do I stir up the bugs?) I spot the heads of the 2 swans. High up in a Spruce, in the sun a Red-winged Blackbird is flashing its red shoulder patches and singing an incredible song. Later at home looking at the pictures, I identify American Wigeons, many Greater Scaups, a dozen or so White-fronted Geese and at least 1 Northern Shoveler.

Colaptes auratus boreales

The flickers, they are doing it! Rigth in front of me in full view.
It is the subspecies: Yellow-shafted.
It was a quicky, and after, one flew into a hole in a big poplar, where young where raised last year.

Victoria Day

May 19 2008
I saw two blues today!
It's being a long haul this year, but Spring finally seems victorious.
Fluttering low to the ground, two Spring Azures, a very good name, when it comes to butterfly names. Its 'real' name though is: Celestrina ladon!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Hetty, thanks for getting me out here. From the bottom of 'Don's decent' (our sledding hill). I take the cut line, that was made in the seventies for the controversial pipeline, to the west, I cross the bush road and keep going in the same direction. Just listen.... And I come out by my 'elfin waterfall'. What a magical place! The forest is mixed , mainly trembling aspen, but some balsam poplars, willows, spruce and high bush cranberry bushes. There are charred trees laying down, from an old old fire. And there are these humongous stumps, 50 cm. diameter.They must be from when they were building the Alaska highway. The creek is full of moss and dead leaves. The waterfall falls at least a meter. And at the bottom is a pool. I make myself sit down , as keeper of wild places, but I can't resist the child in me. And play; redirecting the water, so there is one big fall instead of several smaller ones. Ah, The sound increases too. And I clean up the pool a bit, taking branches out. Loving it, I am tired anyway today, it's nice to play. For me being out in the wild always feels good, I might be tired or other days cold or lost! But I never feel bad about that. I always love it.


For the last two days these big, loud, beautiful woodpeckers, called the Northern Flickers, have been making a racket around our house. Last night they kept going at it till late. I watched them in a colorful sunset, chasing each other, screaming. Then sitting high up in the big poplars. I suppose doing their spring courtship. Two of them together would sit for a minute or so and then bob their head at each other, like saying:"Ye! we're going for it.". After approx. 5 minutes of this they would chase each other again from tree to tree, with at least one other Flicker, joining in.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I like your input! You can reach me at Thanks!
May 17 2008
One of the best things about a rain shower is stepping outside after. Birdsong reached another level yet. On my walk, I can see and hear; Robins , Juncos, Chickadees, White winged Crossbills. And again I meet a Yellow-rumped Warbler, I find them surprisingly easy to spot. They seem to specially sing for me and hang around till I clearly see them (through binoculars) and can learn their song. It all smells lovely fresh. And at 'moose skull lake' The ice is almost gone, To see a body of open rippling water, that size, certainly stirrs me. Four gulls today, they actually stand, in pairs, on the only piece of ice left, on the east side of the lake, where the water flows in. And a male Ring-necked Duck joined the pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes.
'The Mountain' suddenly looks green around it's rocks. And on the path more crocuses are blooming and Death Camas is coming up. On the path through the the swamp, there are Louseworts coming up and Bearberries blooming, the little urn shaped flowers are deliciously sweet. For us botany sticklers ;It's the Arctostaphylos rubra. When the sun comes out everything is sparkling. As I am checking the Birch sap today, trying to stem its flow for now, which proves more difficult then I thought. Any suggestions? I do visit the little meadow, which I like to name as it is special in being small and circular, and the only one around like that. The coltsfoot is blooming. Petasites frigidus, I will find out which one of the four. And in the little pools of water, some beautiful red,with yellow leaves are sticking out; Rumex occidentalis, the Western Dock.
In my book of observations, I read here that Mary Whitley and I on April 29 saw the yellow flower of The snow Potentilla (potentilla nivea). I actually went back the day after, to positively identify it. I don't think I wrote about that, I found a few plants of them on the ridge (esker), facing south, north of the swamp on the north side of 'moose skull lake'. That day, April 30 2008, was I think the last day for this year, I crossed the lake over the ice.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I would have liked to call this entry; wind. But all I have to say about the wind is that it is blowing all day long. Maybe because of the wind I only went as far as 'moose skull lake' and 'teapot pond' and watched the birds. This morning at 'moose skull lake' I enter very quietly, as a good birder (I am actually shy to call myself birder as I am only a beginner). Sure enough close to the shore is a Barrow's Goldeneye pair. They're beautiful, and I like it where there beaks are different in color, Black for the male and yellow for the female. My, I sound like a birder. But don't be fooled, I am learning as I go and use a pair of binoculars even for close by birds and a high tech camera where I can zoom in and then watch the picture in the little screen and zoom in again. There are the two gulls again. I think they are Mew gulls. And one, which probably is a, Bonaparte's Gull. As for the weather, yes, it is a cold wind and the lake is still mostly covered with ice. I am freezing and decide to go home, but I am not that easy defeated and go off the path and wander my way back in the general direction. Lo and behold I run into a joyful singer, I see a streak of bright yellow, and I get to enjoy, what I think is Yellow rumped warbler.

Later in the afternoon I go to 'teapot pond' Right away I get to see a Green Winged Teal, and for me he gets three of his buddies. I read they are a small duck, that's why to me they almost look like a fall time family. In the same part of the pond there is kind of sandpiper. In the spruce trees across there are gulls .And way out there is a pair of Mallards sticking up their big tails. On the little ponds on the east I find a pair of American Wigeons and one male Barrow's Goldeneye.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

pretty pond

May 10 2008
Another day of hiking with a friend. We decide to go to the pond not named yet. The names I use in these journals are often names somebody I know,or I, gave them, they are not official names. In the Yukon, few landmarks have names. And hopefully soon I will name this special little pond. We will bike to the beginning point. I fix up this old bike for Sylvie to use. I am sure it is a 30 year old bike. Possibly older, it was already old 15 years ago when a friend used it for a summer, The tires need air and only one needs it again on the way back. Again I follow the compass going straight north and mark a trail. It's different again. For a while we follow an old creek bed, thick with moss on its boulders, on the sides there's evidence of a very big tree, it's been down for a while. Again we come out at the same hill and have lunch on a rock bluff.

May 13 2008
Another attempt to make it to, now called; 'pretty pond'. I love her. It's easy going following the trail we marked Saturday. From the now very familiar hill, I bushwhack to where I think the pond will be. And Indeed, there she is, lovely as ever, grassier already, I think she will dry out for the summer. On one of it's big boulders I rest. As soon as I sit down I hear a sound and a flock of geese fly over! I always get so excited and before I totally identify them they're gone again. There was 2 dozen off them, they had dark wings, and to me they sounded like,"ew, ew".
I explore the surroundings of the lake, first going north. I follow the boulders on the side, having to cross some marshy sections but come out in a narrow, where a game trail is very well defined. And now I am among walls of rock. I have to climb up one side and cross a little miniature Pine tree forest. It opens into a little meadow surrounded by thick, big,spruce. Here I turn around.
I explore the south of 'pretty pond' and find she has a little brother, which is dark and round, and a little sister with long blond hair, the grass, which here has dried flowering stems. I decide to take a shortcut to where the marked trail is, wrong... Well not wrong, but I don't find the trail till I come to a big meadow, which I knew was there, but hadn't come upon lately. I do some brainstorming, and find the trail where it goes into the old creek bed. Still I keep losing the trail sometimes. On the way back with Sylvie Tremblay we must have been accompanied by Fairies as it was amazingly easy to follow this new marked trail back to our bikes.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Just now I went for a very slow ,quiet, peaceful walk. Surrounded by birdsong and calls.
And the very occasional, tiny snowflake coming down. Or are they tiny white bugs? Both is possible, it is cold enough and as for bugs, it's been spring long enough. 'Moose skull lake' has open water now and there are 2 gulls (who have something going with a raven), a pair of mallards, a kind of shorebird! and the flickers!
In a meadow the Coltsfoot is blooming.
I realize, it is impossible here in this blog to write everything down. What I write is only a fraction of the joy of wild places I experience. My first focus remains to enjoy these places. My longing for more only gets greater and greater. I feel overwhelmed with it, though the wonderful thing is; Nature, it doesn't demand anything.
It just asks to be. And through all the fantastic responses I get from you out there, I know we are all answering to that call. I am very grateful for your responses. It inspires me greatly.
I am so blessed.

Friday, May 9, 2008

snowflurries and summer heat

April 29 2008

Despite the weather a day well spend. I hiked for apx. 5 hours with an expert! Mary Whitley. I learned a lot about birds, plants, the works of the glaciers. A glacier covered this area. But first I want to write down the easiest route (for now) to a certain peak. Coming back from the closest point we got to the peak. I used the compass going south. And we did come out by the old gravel pit, which is connected with the Mendenhall roads. I am not very good with a compass yet, partly due to the fact that true north is different then magnetic north. Anyway, Mary marked the point also on the map with the help of a GPS. Starting at the gravel pit, taking an old bush road west, which takes me north after a a little bit, through the orchid swamp, then when the road turns west again, one climbs over an old log to go straight north, It does go over,what seems, an esker, but you leave the hill to your west. You just aim north. Going up and down a little bit, and some densely treed sections, but basically it should go gradually uphill and bring me to the spot where Mary and I had a picnic in the snow accompanied by birds! This all to bring me back to that 'wild' place, which was quite lovely.

May 8 2008

"Mary, We where so close to that little lake I was talking about, and it is sooo beautiful." And being at 3300 feet I was surprised it was already thawed out, totally open water.Where as teapot pond and 'moose skull lake' at 2400 feet are still frozen. This lake which might be a pond. Is nestled in between an elongated hill, which might be an esker. And the mountain. It,s a grassy lake (pond), but on the sides are big boulders, say 10 metres diameter. Today Jane and I left the gravel pit at 8 am and followed the route Mary and I came back on, see above, April 29. And it went as predicted, something that is hard to do, as it is a big world out there. From the lake we went east to avoid a tangle of alders. And at some point we turn north to the.... certain peak. It is very prominent, looking at it from the neighbourhood and highway because it has a knob on the top, I call it nipple. From down below it looks very promising, but I invite you to come and see it from close up. Jane and I reach this wonderful top at 10 am! Needless to say, that after some breakfast, we carry right on. Because....we 're in the high country. And it is here where we love to be. It is so open and expansive. It is such a freedom. And it makes us feel we are the luckiest ducks on the planet. Jane saw moss campion blooming I missed it because I was too busy nibbling cranberries from last fall. By the way the crow berries and blueberries are pretty tasty too. There's always so much to enjoy. We find places where obviously some animal likes to do a poop. Jane finds a moose antler, that has totally been gnawed through by some little animals. We see and hear birds. Smell the smells of summer. After the knob, The first stretch is a little bit of a struggle going through waist high bushes and soft snowpatches. But soon enough we are on this ridge with all those amazing rocks strewn about and the snow patches are getting harder, as in frozen solid. And easy enough we reach...the fire lookout, Ahh, we land ourselves on the helicopter platform, which I like as a sundeck. We find some survey posts, one from 1943. And then we go to the lookout. Well I didn't say it yet but the whole trip the view was spectacular. But being at a look out you can imagine, All our beautiful lakes and mountains. One day even mnt. Logan might show. And south there is a lovely blue ribbon, The flowing Takhini river.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


April 28 2008
'Day of Mourning' As keeper of wild places I realize there are very many places that one can call wild. I would like to limit myself to places in Nature where there is none or almost no human footprint. This morning though I came upon a 'wild' place in my mind; Yesterday I spend a few hours roaming around swamps, which are still somewhat frozen and therefor accessible, but already very wet. Laying in bed this morning, on the radio they talked about 'day of mourning'. They played the Stones with 'Don't make a grown man cry. And somehow that song merged with the wetland, (the water being tears.) becoming too swampy, too wet for me to continue. What was that? Does anybody else has those semi awake experiences?

Once up, the day became warm and quite sunny. Better check those Birch again, if the sap is running. A neighbor came along and sharing my trails is always a joy. And it makes me see things with different eyes again. Amazed at how the moose trail is so well defined, yes there are logs to step over and narrow sections, here the ground cover is mainly kinnickenick, but the trail is well trotten dirt. My companion marvels over all the little bits of green popping out of the ground, and we both touch the beautiful bark of the Birch. And smell the different smells, of grass and dry leaves... I know! We have had long frozen winter, all smells are new.
No sap yet by the way. I have to ask an expert someday.

Ah, and then in the evening our first real rain shower!, duration maybe 2 minutes. No matter how short it was the world is beautiful afterwards, and I walk to Moose skull lake, The ice is sea green, I still am able to cross it.
North of it is yet another wetland, I'll try to describe it.
Still on the lake two rocks poke out of the ice, one blackish, one pink! Around them the ice is candling. From the pink one I jump on land, first there is, say fifty metres of land and ice, then one comes into a stand of dead trees. Then into a delightful landscape of little hillocks, pools, stands of trees on higher ground,
tiny meadows. And Bear berries from last fall, they actually taste OK.

Monday, May 5, 2008


April 27 2008

A day in the swamp. Wetlands they call it these days, how unromantic, to me swamp or even marsh speaks more to the imagination. And brings out the smell. Do you all have memories of that smell of the black mud, where your boot get sucked in by . And yes today the smells are there, but the swamp today is very accessible because it's still frozen underneath and bushes and swamp grass are not growing and green yet. Last night, on the hill, it looked like the water in the pond (is it called teapot pond?)was open. The ice is green, probably it reflected the light a certain way, which made it seem open water. Amazing, teapot pond has a spout. In one of the little ponds on the west side, I heard this peculiar sound, suddenly I saw where it came from, a little squirt (10cm) of water spouted up through the ice. ??? what is that?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

many blessings

April 25 2008
I am peeling logs with a hand tool. sitting on the log in the blustering wind, with my back to the sun. These are 8 foot logs, for possibly a sauna. They are from the most abundant dead tree here on the property, the quaking aspen. I marvel about the incredible beauty of the wood, I wish I could make planks out of them too. The wood is very light colored with red, green, brown, orange, you name it, streaks in it. It seems like a well kept secret among trees, Who has a quaking aspen floor in his house? I know it is a soft wood, but I would love to experiment with it. I feel as keeper of wild places I will not use mechanical tools, so this puts me into a predicament. Any suggestions welcome. In the mean time I just keep peeling and marveling. Gratefully so.
Earlier on I sat on my husband's lawn chair. What an uniquely wild place. The sun shining ,the wind already gusting. In front of his shop/garage he has this personal corner with all sort of wild stuff (scrap metal,recycling,wood, a big jar of gravel(placer gold?) etc.) which only he understands, he does understand because it is organized. The spot is exactly south facing and in kind of a bay, sheltered from the wind. When you know the Yukon you know this is a sought after location for sitting outside in the spring in the middle of the day. Sought after? let me know who will sit outside in the sun in the middle of a week day in the Yukon or anywhere?
But Before all that I had my walk for wild places. And this is what it brought; My house is on the edge of this rural subdivision with 20 acre lots. So really when I step outside, I step of the main track. First I do follow the cut line and then my own made trail and then a little bush road which is used by neighbours and such and then a smaller bush road, which is probably there from the making of the Alaska hwy. Finally. We're half an hour now, I come to the crossing of a little creek. And I mean finally, as in I finally let go of my regular thoughts . The creek shocks me into the state I want to be in, one of awe, one of glory, one of wilderness where everything is a surprise. The creek is flowing! With the warm temperatures this week the ice finally broke. When first open it is deep and wide. I have to go into the bush beside the road to cross it without getting wet.These Alaska hwy bush roads all come to a dead end, there I continued a trail which is now years old, farther yet I go onto an very much older trail, made by the moose, it's only used by one human, that I know of, so it is very much a moose trail. And eventually I reach the birch trees! Still no sap, the ground here is still frozen. In my neck of the woods, the Birch only grows on north facing slopes. Where hence it is colder. As I have no sap to carry home, I decide to enjoy a little meadow at the bottom of the slope here. It's only a hundred yards from the birch trees. Ah what a delight, a little opening in the forest. I had expected some water in the middle, but it is just marshy grass. Though there is a patch of Coltsfoot. Now it is just black and grey dead leaves, but it delights me in anticipation of what's to come. When I get up I am called by an 'island' of quaking aspen.(The 'sea' being willow bushes) I decide to follow this small valley, I wonder if there is name for this kind of landmark. It will come out onto another moose trail, 'The Moose Trail', to be precise. It will be another story for another day, as will be the story of the mountain, 'The Mountain', to be precise. The Moose Trail lays in an old creek bed right east from The Mountain. Anyway back to where I was, I am in new territory now, I,ve wandered around here just once or twice before. For me being in a new place in Nature opens up my senses even more, every tree, every log on the ground,etc looks more 'fresh', more interesting , more exciting. 3 Ravens playing high up in the sky agree. But for me (excuse me if I am sounding pathetic) the most exciting event on this trip happens on a familiar ridge; crocuses blooming! They're small, barely open and very close to the ground, They're so tough, they're so purple, so soft and their bright yellow hearts. In a world so devote of colors yet.

April 26 2008
Crocuses on Crocus hill! Writing about them I got the urge, jumped on the bike, rode to the red roof cabin and climbed to the top of the grassy hill which over looks the neighborhood and the Mendenhall river meadows (a bonus; so I can watch for swans. I can't see any, but that doesn't say they are not there) I do see a golden eagle above me.

day 1

April 21 2008
I am tired, my feet are hurting and actually so is my right knee. Last night it barely froze here or maybe it didn't, we've had Yukon spring for a month but it was still freezing every night and possibly most days. Yesterday it warmed up finally and today it became Yukon hot at around 4. Still no birch sap. But swans are flying over.
My first day as keeper of wild places I made 2 trips one to the 911 pond, and 1 to the Birch trees. I left at 8.30 am doing a multipurpose trip collecting cans from along the highway and checking on the swans at the 911 pond. Walking in my rubber boots as the snow along the roads has or is melting it is very wet in the ditches, but it is the best time for collecting refundables. for 7 months there has been snow in the ditches and now it shows what people have been drinking while driving the Alaska highway. First I have to take a trail towards the highway. It's a wide open trail, through the forest, going south and only sloping down minimally till I come to a ridge, where I can overlook the Mendenhall valley. The 911 pond is part of that. On top of the ridge in the spruce trees I 'm sure a flock of chickadees lives there, I always here them chattering here. From here the ponds, they lay like beads on a necklace in the valley, still look white.
The frozen ponds stay white longest. I walk down the sloped ridge to the highway. Cans galore, I say every 10 meters a can , mostly beer cans, some pop, a few bottles of course there is always other goodies too, nothing too exciting this trip, some rope, a neat purple, little bungee cord and a mirror. Soon enough my pail is full and I stop to crush all the cans and transfer them to a bag. It's then that I here a duck like sound. I look around and scan the big puddles in the ditch,nothing.. till I hear "swish, swish". And right above 9 swans fly over me going west following the same route as I, they are not stopping at the pond I am heading for and fly right on through. No traffic in is in hearing range, so it's a moment to enjoy. The traffic is busier then I expected, though being some 3 hours along the road I say I did see 30 vehicles. Eventually I reach the little bush road that leads to the meadows in which the pond is. The snow on the trail is very soft. There is still snow as this road is used by skidoos which makes a hard frozen trail which takes longer to melt.
to be continued.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Glory to you

Let's start this morning. After 3 days of being in town (Whitehorse) I was very eager to set up this blog. But first I wanted to go out to the Birch trees. As the snow is mostly gone now, I'll take the bicycle. Biking up hill on rough trails is no easy feat. And I mostly push the bike. It is a beautiful sunny day, windy. Soon I have to take my sweater off. I leave the bike where I go on to the moose trail. Last week there was still remains of frozen snow on the trail. And here I am thinking what to write in the profile of this blog, yes, it is then that I loose the trail. But I know where I am going. The Birch trees branches are reddish in this early season, and I see that they are taller then the Aspen here and actually smaller again are most of the Spruce and the few Pine. Bushwhacking, I soon find my way.

And there, gloriously, I actually find sap in the buckets. Clear beautiful liquid. I am so excited. And thank the tree for this amazing gift. I move my nose and eyes close to the tap, to see and smell the drip. There is no smell, but being so close, as the drip forms on the end of the tap, it is like a crystal reflecting the sun and as it grows it reflects exquisitely the surrounding forest. Drip......drip......drip. I collect about 1 gallon of sap, 4 litres. And carry it home in my backpack. If you read my blog before you know that this sap winning is all new to me. That's why it excites me to no end. And the taste! I had never had it before, well it does taste like.... water. But deliciously slightly sweet. Who would ever want to turn that in syrup. I know how it will be used in my house. Simply! as a drink. In the afternoon I take another trip, because I have no idea how fast this stuff is flowing. When I get there each tree(2) has 1 litre. Good enough for sure, but no rush to get home in case I would had have to go again in the evening I think it will be OK till next morning. I decide to climb this north slope. It is full of Alders, which tend to tangle you, but I know there is a little rock bluff not too far. Indeed! it gives a lovely view of the area. But of course the hill side keeps calling me up. It is an arduous climb, the forest tangled and thick and the slope steep. AH... The top stops my heart. There is no way to describe the beauty of it all. The rocks, the mixed forest, the little valley below. And looking out at mountains around Taye lake, the Sifton range, 'my Mountain', mnt. Ingmar till mnt. Vanier. This spring day, the forest has hints of color, the mountains are bright white and the sky very blue.

Snow and Sun

I am off into the woods again, because my head is spinning from too much computer.
I'll talk to you soon and will post here my last week journals as keeper of wild places.