Near the top of the Van Tassel Lake look off, the firs are buried in snow and bent over like a tribe of snow trolls. I love to walk quietly among them, tiptoeing with fake angst, pretending they could awake at any moment.
I guess it is gorgeous everywhere today but I speak from firsthand knowledge when I say the trails of Van Tassel Lake are amazing.
Snow everywhere, lying on everything – every tree, every branch outlined in white, every clearing and swamp a blanket of spotless satin, every hummock and rock covered in soft pillows – to my eye the fir trees are prettiest with their boughs holding so much snow.
I was up early today and snowshoed to the look off for a morning workout – and what a workout it was. On the first 400 or 500m someone had been over the trail yesterday with snowshoes so I was able to jog along pretty good in their wake.
This first stretch of trail is home to a family of ravens and the slap and crunch of my snowshoes must have woken them, surprised them on this quiet morning, as they took off over head croaking and cawing among the treetops.
Besides the startling beauty of the glimmering snow, it is the quiet calm of the woods on these snowy days that I love most. It is easy to imagine yourself the only one for miles and miles.
Soon yesterday’s snowshoer turned around – I think they might have been having trouble staying on the trail – and I continued on, breaking and marking trail for the next visitors.
It was and is a cool morning with a double-digit windchill but the effort of plowing through the deep fluffy stuff kept me more than warm enough. I had my mittens off most of the walk and sometimes my hat – I only kept it on for protection from the snow laden branches.
I crossed Shady Lane and continued on towards Rock Pile – Shady Lane would have been a nice walk too and if you only wanted a 2km walk it would be the answer today.
The higher I climbed, the deeper the snow and the lonelier the woods felt.
At Rock Pile I again considered turning down towards the lake and heading back but my goal was the Look Off. Let me just say, it is only 2.5km to the look off but today in all that snow it really felt like 5.
But it was worth it- every stretch of trail looked so different, so dressed up in elegant white finery.
My favourite stretch though is that high meadow near the top with all the snow trolls. Today the trail was a narrow narrow passageway among giants. I said “Excuse me” a few times as I threaded my way among them.
And then I was on top looking out over forest as far as the eye can see – the lower reservoir is more visible today because of the snow laying on its frozen surface.
I soaked in the view, took a couple deep breaths, the requisite selfie, and then it was time to head down.
I went back on the same trail (on the north side of the lake). I didn’t have the strength or time to break a trail around the lake. I’ll leave that for the next snowshoer….
Jonathan Riley, trails and open space coordinator with the Municipality of the District of Digby