Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Final Chapter Of Our Winter Beebe Hill Hike

I'd hiked up to the fire tower on Beebe Hill with four of my dogs on a January day. We were on our way back downhill and the dogs were slowing down because the snow was hurting their paws. But everyone was still happy and the scenery was beautiful:

It had begun snowing, which overlaid the forest with a magical silence and beauty:

We'd encountered snowmobiles twice already and I heard them again in the distance. So I put all the dogs on leashes in case they'd come our way once again. They did not, but the leash was helpful to keep big Seamus moving. His paws were collecting snow between the toes and he kept stopping to try and clean them. But the snowmobiles drove off in another direction and I let the dogs off of their leashes once again. We continued on our way down through the quiet forest toward our parked car:

Extra-large soft white snowflakes were falling all around us and the only sounds were the jingling of the dog tags and the crunch of snow underfoot:

Even Daphne and Clover, the two Papillon puppies, began slowing down and acting as if their paws were sensitive:

We passed Barrett Pond at the foot of a small mountain. It had frozen over and then collected snow so that one might not even recognize it as a pond. I'm a frequent visitor in the warmer months, so I knew it was a pond and not a field:

Passing Barrett Pond was an indication to me that we were almost to our parked car. But around every bend I saw more trail, more snow, more forest:

When we finally reached the car I saw that two other vehicles had joined us. We were all tired and the dogs, especially Seamus, were quite happy to jump inside and lie down on the warm, carpeted surface. What luxury!:

And as we drove away towards home, I passed the sign designating Beebe Hill State Forest. Just outside the State Forest boundary was a logging header, the place where logging crews brought logs to be cut up and loaded onto trucks to be taken to sawmills, pulp mills or firewood centers:

Having worked for some years on a logging crew on top of mountains, this brought back many memories. I was particularly taken by their skidder, a much different type than the one I used to drive. But still it recalled to me those days alone in the middle of the wilderness driving a skidder between the header and the "choppers." Apparently this "skidder" didn't skid, but rather carried logs somewhat like a truck would do. The machines we used actually dragged the fallen trees back to the header:

These logs were not very big, so I supposed they were destined for a pulp mill or for the firewood trade. It also explained that new skidder design. Very large trees wouldn't have been loadable onto the back of that machine. But it would have kept mud and stones out of the bark of the logs it hauled, rendering them much more easily cut up by chainsaws. And so ended our hike to the fire tower on Beebe Hill. The dogs and I were all tired, but it had been a grand outing with lovely views and a real chance to commune with nature in spite of the snowmobiles. In fact, the snowmobiles had packed down the snow and made our hike possible. So we drove home and all of us took a nap:

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