November 5, 2007 at 8:38 AM
Once upon a time, when the weather was not too cold yet and the leaves still crunched on the lower parts of the trail, I took a walk up Bird Ridge just to see what was at the top that day. After all, you never know what each journey will hold; no two are alike.
On this particular day, I was pleased to discover that I was the first person to set foot on the fresh powder that graced the upper parts of the mountain. I happily hummed in the bright sun as I worked my way higher and the snow grew deeper. Gradually, I became aware that my tracks were no longer the only ones in the snow. Small dimples across the surface recorded the recent scurry of a shrew. A ptarmigan’s orderly W’s rounded a crest. A snow shoe hare had darted in and out of the shrubs, leaving slightly deeper sets of morse code dots and dashes. Above tree line, I came across pairs of broken hearts that the cloven hooves of mountain goats leave, deep punctures in the snow, with two lines connecting each track where their toes drag. I stopped for a moment, wondering where they might lead. They seemed to meander back and forth all over the ridge.
Here was a track that was hard to miss: a pancake sized, wrinkly padded hole with five exclamation points. Grizzly bear! In parts where the snow lay knee deep, I could see where his muddy chest had rubbed against the crust. In the same fashion as the goat’s, his tracks zig-zagged all over the mountainside. Was he stalking the goat? Evidently not, for his tracks would have followed the goat’s tracks, and they clearly did not. Not certain of his whereabouts, I cleared my throat and began to sing Broadway tunes, just in case it would help change his mind about stalking me. Each time I crossed his tracks, I held my breath.
Before I knew it, I was cresting the summit and all tracks lay behind me. I stopped to snap a couple of photos and have a look about. Though the mountain lay still, the air having the quality of suspended animation, I was suddenly surprised to discover I wasn’t the only one atop Bird Ridge after all. Over to the left, next to a precarious precipice stood a headless snowman, still frozen in the place where he’d met his demise. I stepped closer to examine the crime scene. There was no sign of a struggle, no bullet casings or blood trails. In fact, the surrounding snow lay completely featureless, all except for a single set of unfamiliar footprints which began and ended right there in front of (or behind?) him.
What happened there with no human eye to witness may stay with the mountain, but I think if you backtrack a little and add a dash of imagination, you just might solve the mystery of the headless snowman. I have a theory. What’s yours?
I'm jealous of your snow: ours keeps melting. I went fly fishing yesterday and the stream is actually blown out worse than during ice-out in late may =(
no trout for joo
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