Saturday, November 12, 2011

Freeze Up

The Takhini River confluence with the Yukon River, early November sunrise.
The first signs of Yukon winter show in late August. The tops of the mountains across the valley whiten with what we call "termination dust." Coincident with the dropping of the last blossoms from the top of the fireweed stalks, this first high altitude snow, and its gradual descent down the sides of the mountains through September, signals the coming end of camping trips and marks the time to start some serious thinking about the wood pile. Other signs appear in the woods around the house. The leaves drop from the bushes and we find the squirrels have placed the dried caps of this summer's plentiful mushroom crop in the branches. We also find them elsewhere. When I took my truck in for winterizing, the mechanic forecast "pissed off squirrels at your house." When checking the air filter he found that the connected air channels were packed with dried mushrooms, "a whole box full." The air filter was fine.

We used to have picnics on these beaches in the spring before the water rises.
As precipitation turns from rain into snow through the fall the rivers start to dry up. Water flows on the Yukon River drop to less than a fifth of their summer highs. On the Takhini River behind the house we watch the thin strand of fine summer sand expand into huge beaches, now rimed with ice.

A major fall activity around here is hunting. And with hunting there is always the question of what you do with your moose guts. One woman wrote a letter to the newspaper complaining that hunters were just dumping them in the woods that surround most of Whitehorse's subdivisions. She railed against this practice describing how her dogs had come across them and returned home covered in offal and suffering digestive issues (making them unpopular in the house). Within a few days a hunter had replied railing against dog owners who let their dogs run free to cause trouble. This is how Cabin Fever starts in the Yukon.

Ice pans floating down the Takhini behind our place.
This week the river has been throwing ice. There are wide shelves of clear and suprisingly thick ice reaching out from both banks. But the river current still runs shallow and fast in the centre carrying with it large circular pans of ice. Ocassionally they jam on the shore ice and gradually build it up.

The nights are long now. Early one morning I noticed the window glowing green and went outside to see the first of this winter's Northern Lights.

Amost frozen.


  1. I was clearing out my barn today, and stashed in some boxes I had stored just in case I ever needed to send the TV, printer, stereo, etc out for repairs, I found a total of 1 1/2 wheelbarrows full of dried mushrooms! Some were mouldy, apparently forgotten from previous winters' stashes :) None in my truck air cleaner so far!

  2. So a steak and mushroom dinner on the barbie then? I hear truffles are rare this year, maybe there's an exotic food market for squirrel stowed mushrooms.