By Russ Hodgins
For most of the year, the river forms a travel barrier for the less aquatic species in this world but come winter, the water becomes a highway. Once the cold weather hits and the ice thickens, the coyotes seem to be the first to access this new winter route. When the deer tracks indicate that the ice is thick enough to support their weight, I take that as a sign that I can start travelling, although somewhat closer to shore. I still wait a few weeks before crossing the river and even then, the first trip over tends to be more of a sprint, just in case. From this point forward, the river becomes my winter trail of choice and has led to close encounters with deer, coyotes, a moose and many other species of birds and animals. I have yet to meet them, but someone else enjoys this trail with their dog team and sled.
By observing the tracks of the animals who travelled before me, I have learned which areas have thin ice due to stronger currents and when to detour onto shore where a spring flows in from the hills. I still travel with a sense of caution as the river ice is constantly in change which adds to the excitement and I have to say, the enjoyment of being out there as it keeps me living in the moment.