Snow on bare bones

Really, PlaidCamper? What horrors have you endured?

No, nothing grisly here, quite the opposite! A post about bones, snow, quiet, and a book you might enjoy.

We were on snowshoes down by the Bow and Baker Creek a short while ago. Snow was falling, and the trees had a good coating. The wind had less teeth in the trees, and although temperatures were low, conditions were just right for tramping. And there were bare bones everywhere…

Decent snow

Maybe the roads were still relatively difficult to make travel out of the city an easy prospect, but returning from Yoho we saw no other traffic on the Bow Valley Parkway, other than a snow plow, and we parked up and had the trails to ourselves. Always an introvert, with a tendency towards being a touch anti-social on my time off, this was a special morning. Two PlaidCampers, deep snow, empty trails, and a backpack full of snacks? Let’s go!

Quiet enough here

Having spent a few winters lumbering along in snowshoes, I’ve developed a (slightly sad?) obsession with types of snow. There is a difference in what falls where in the mountains. On the BC side, the snow is almost a given – or as close to a given you can get in these post truth global warming days. It will often be deep, and it will often be wet and heavy. On snowshoes, heavy snow is fine if you’re second on the trail, but if you’re first – and if you’re me – it’s a workout. I’ve been known to hang back at a trailhead because I’m anti-social or quiet, but the other truth is I’m letting fellow hikers do my heavy lifting. I know, I know.


On the Alberta side of the mountains, snowfall isn’t as certain compared with further west, but when it falls it is light and powdery. Yes, I prefer to snowshoe through the powder. I’ll hit that trail and cheerfully blast a brave path through unbroken snow, leading the way and selflessly helping those who are to follow later in the day. It’s a workout, but I’m happy to help. I know, I know.

Tree bones

What about the bare bones that were everywhere? Tree bones! The light and the snow last week seemed to reveal the beauty of the trees in sharp, near black and white. We could see the tree bones laid bare. Alright, perhaps an overactive imagination here. I’ll admit to borrowing tree bones from Peter Wohlleben, and his wonderful book, The Hidden Life of Trees, written in part about the forest in Germany he attends to.

imageHighly recommended as a thoughtful and off centre read about trees, I thoroughly enjoyed Wohlleben telling how, over many years, he redefined his relationship to the trees he works with, evolving from logger to conservationist. His notions about trees being a “wood wide web” of communicating and social entities, beings that taste and smell, are a challenge to conventional thinking. He isn’t a sentimental tree hugger, he acknowledges trees have a commercial value, and he explores and explains different, less destructive approaches to harvesting.


It’s a great book to read if you enjoy thinking about other ways of looking at the world, and different ways of measuring time or wealth. Preaching to the choir here, but when you consider the beauty and complexity of a single tree, and how that single tree impacts the environment of thousands of other living creatures, then how wonderful is a stand of trees? A woodland? A forest?

As Wohlleben says, trees ought to be beyond the status of inanimate objects like stones or boulders, but because in human measured time they appear static (beyond seasonal shifts), we mistake them as slow or unchanging and ripe for (poorly thought out) commercial exploitation. Well, you might enjoy the book.

dscf4363We certainly enjoyed our deep powder snowshoe hike along the riverbanks and through the trees. As we retraced our steps, I was hoping to spot the dipper we’ve seen several times along this stretch. I’d just told myself to be content with the day, dipper or no dipper, when I caught sight of it out the corner of my eye. Splashing and bobbing upstream, then dipping below the surface to pop up a few metres downstream, this was a fine way to complete our walk. No dipper photos, but a happy memory.

dscf4359Thanks for reading, please feel free to share a story, and have a wonderful weekend!

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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

14 thoughts on “Snow on bare bones”

  1. Love your writing and the humour. In regards to the book, I have heard of it, I am a tree lover, hugger, I have to admit, no shame here. I always ask my husband when he is discussing about an unknown area to me, I always ask “are there trees?” always…..wonderful post and writing. I could almost feel myself there with you and Mrs. PlaidCamper, listening to the quiet and plodding along. 😉


  2. I so enjoyed this adventure through the snowy woods, pc. Starting off with your joy of a trail empty of people and your backpack full of snacks — I can SO relate to this. Your description of your obsession with snow was absolutely wonderful, followed with the chorus, “I know, I know”– made me laugh each time. And then that wonder about the dipper. This is the thrill of being on favorite trails, having special wildlife or trees or rocks that you visit and are glad to see again. And the bare bones, the tree discussion — wonderful. I loved this post, thank you.


    1. Thank you, Jet, for your kind words about the writing – appreciated!
      As for being out on a quiet trail with plentiful snacks, that’s as good a way to spend a day we can think of. Seeing the dipper has been a (hoped for!) thrill each time. Quite magical…
      Thanks again, and I hope your weekend is going well!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for a different look at trees, it does sound like an interesting book about balance. I am intrigued by the author’s history, like duck hunters who are conservationists, he has a good understanding of his subject. I like the description of limbs as “bones.” I also realized that, unless you have experienced it, how the quality of snow varies at different times and places.


    1. The book is thought-provoking, and the author is an interesting character.
      Before moving to Alberta, I used to think snow was just snow. It’s been fun finding out otherwise!
      Thanks, Jane, and I hope your weekend is going well!


  4. Thanks for the book recommendation and the beautiful post. I have been a little surprised how empty the parks and paths are during the winter, but agree that as an introvert that is a wonderful thing. Every year it seems we lose anywhere from five to ten trees due to weather or disease, but so far this winter only branches have fallen with the ice storms. Enjoyed the snow descriptions and humor, especially blasting through the powder. Enjoy your weekend!


  5. I really like your photos of the greenish usnea on the bare bones of winter! Glad that you’re enjoying a snowier season than the one we had last year. Wohlleben’s book sounds like an excellent choice to be read at this time of year, when trees make their sentient qualities most obvious to the forest wanderer. Thanks for another fine read, PC, and enjoy more hours of relaxing “introverted” meditation!


    1. It was a fine day to be out and about. Beautiful surroundings, quiet trails and good company. I’m friendly enough on the trail when we encounter fellow hikers, and will nod, smile, and even pause for a brief conversation, but if trails are empty, I’m not complaining…
      Is being a happy curmudgeon a contradiction?!
      Thanks, Walt – hope you’re out on quiet riverbanks this weekend.


  6. Always enjoy your writing and this was no exception. There’s a deep sense of peace that comes through in your walks and your words. Lovely. That book sounds good too. Cheers from one introvert to another. 🙂


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