April is famous for it’s unreliability. As Robert Frost puts it:
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.
Except I would have to say it’s more like we are back in February. Below zero at night, cool and windy during the day – but downright hot anyplace that is sunlit and sheltered.
My daughter Kaija and I took a short trip with the dogs for a couple days last week, doing some exploring in a big loop to the north and east. The dogs love going new places almost as much as I do. We had near perfect trail conditions, even in the afternoon. Everything was frozen up and white, all the stream crossings where uneventful – until we got to the last part of our loop. I was puzzled about the lack of new tracks on the trail, which is normally well used. Nobody had been on it for a week or more from the looks of it. It didn’t take long to find out why!
There is a maze of sloughs and beaver ponds back off the river. The trail takes advantage of all these ponds to keep out of the brush. The whole thing is bordered on its northern edge by a nice south-facing bluff – the perfect solar collector. The ponds along the bluff were wide open. Beautiful crystal clear water. Often it’s hard to decide where to camp for the night, and I am famously picky about campsites, but sometimes the decision is made for you. That’s it, we camp here. I had hoped to camp further west, with a Denali view. Instead we had a beautiful evening watching the light on our immediate surroundings.
Spring travel is full of surprises and contrasts. Fast icy trail in the morning can give way to posthole hell by noon. Sunscreen and shirtsleeves in the afternoon, then waking up next morning to a frosty zero or ten below.
Good dogs, good trails, beautiful scenery, great company.