Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Game Warden Files--and Still More Winter Leftovers

Going XC skiing with my wife and friends the other day reminded me of one of my more adventurous days of work--OK, you could call it play, but it was done for the sake of work. In all reality, this is hardly an exciting game warden story, but one example of how the job allowed me some experiences that I might not have otherwise had.
One of the local Forest Rangers who was into very high-level back country skiing was trying to find someone to ski down the W. Stony Creek--which is more like a small river than a creek-- with him. None of the other Rangers in the area were that into skiing and I was the only local ECO who was willing to give it a try, so I was his guy. We'd had a spell of very cold weather followed by some pretty good snowfall, and conditions were as good as they were going to get for the trek. He hunted me down and made the suggestion. It didn't take me long to agree on the plan.
We met the next morning, checking out all our gear and headed out, parking one vehicle at one end of our proposed journey (STHWY 30 and W. Stoney Creek) and heading off to our starting point, where Hatch Brook crosses Hamilton Co. Rt. 6. (Benson Rd).
This Ranger was a treat to ski with. He had some very high-tech equipment which made it simple for him to ski in almost any condition, he'd been skiing difficult terrain for years and had all the skills necessary to keep us both out of any trouble--which made me pretty happy. On the other hand, I was a fairly new skier, had halfway decent back country equipment, but was not nearly as skillful as he was. It made for an interesting day.
We skied through the woods from the road, along Hatch Brook and down to the W. Stony. The creek was gorgeous. The sun was just at the point in the ski where everything was bright and the ice and snow covered creek was quite a sight. I'll admit I had some second thoughts about it at that point; but the Ranger was confident in his skills and in my ability to make it up as I went along, so off we went.
We had generally good conditions all the way, but there were a few places that gave us some concerns. We had to get off the creek and go up on the bank around some open water once or twice and once the ice started to give way as we were on it, dropping right out from under the ranger's skis, forcing to make a wide arc to get away from the open spot; but all together it was an uneventful trip.We figured it to have been about a three miles ski, but it was not a normal ski route. We made it to our end point in about two hours, which wasn't bad considering all the obstacles we had to ski around on the way.
Yeah, it's not a really exciting story, but the glory of the Creation on that winter day is a memory I'll savor for years.

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