By Bob Spiwak

It is a rainy, foggy, gloomy Monday morning. What were infrequent spells of rain have become a steady flow. The parking area here is becoming puddle-ized, and here and there where it has been plowed bare earth is beginning to show. Can this be the end of winter? I don’t think so — more like a preview of mud season, which ought to be a dilly this year.

Up at Harts Pass the snow level is at 109 inches, the snow/water content as of this morning is 44 inches, which translates into 138 percent of average. With rain forecast for the next five days, the snow level ought to drop and the water content rise. The puddles could become lakes, and with a dose of real warmth a lot of creeks are probably going to run heavier than usual, especially in fire-dominated areas of the past two summers.

I have a note this morning from Eric Burr, ex-forest ranger and beacon for things outdoorsy, having to do with skunks at Lost River. Tom Grayson saw a skunk he has been smelling for some time near his home at upper Lost River. The claim is that this is the farthest one has ever been seen in the semi-wild reaches on the way to Harts Pass.

Ms. Gloria and I have been snowshoeing from here to the place next door, a distance of a quarter-mile or so. At the beginning it was easy when the snow was not as deep (29 inches this morning — down from 40) as it became.  We’d make a track, then the snowfall would bury it and only the dog could follow its almost-hidden course. Next day we’d go, following the dog, who had a disturbing penchant for taking off into the untrammeled snow, whether to chase a squirrel or roll in a canine treasure of coyote poop.

As the snow got deeper, the edges on each side of the trail would slough into it. The falling snow would bury it further. In the past two days of some rain, it once again became apparent that in deep snow, webbed snowshoes are superior to the modern aluminum models. The broader and longer surface of the webs did not sink into the white stuff as much as the current models, which are ideal in weight and bulk for packed or groomed wide trails. Even with my substantially greater weight than that of my wife, the webs tended to float where the aluminums sunk.

Thus endeth the sermon.

PREVIOUSLY, IN MAZAMA