Monday, February 3, 2014


January 26, 2014
Moreau Lake State Park, NY

Now I go a fishing & a hunting every day
     but omit the fish & the game -–
     which are the least important part –-
I have learned to do without them.
They were indispensable only as long as I was a boy --.
    HDT Journal, January 26, 1853

It promised to be a bright sunny day and I just HAD to get outdoors.
Never mind that it was 9 degrees
and there was a warning out for "dangerous wind chill" in the afternoon !
I know one person who would love to go walking on a day like this --so I called her.
Jackie and I met at Moreau Lake State Park. We walked down the hill from the parking area, which wasn’t very full (unusual for a Sunday), and out to the frozen lake.
The new snow made it a clean canvas.

It’s great to have a pal who doesn’t mind coming out in this crazy-cold weather!

There had been an inch or two of fresh snow overnight,
covering the previous drab and crunchy layer.
We saw only two people out on the ice fishing, a father and son.
The cold didn’t seem to bother them, even out in the open.

Jackie and I were not a-fishing, but a-hunting,
and our quarry today was a porcupine. 

We continued across the lake, and up into the woods --- out of the wind --
to a little-used side trail that leads up to some porcupine dens.
To the casual observer, it is a sunken jumble of rocks near a tiny brook.  

Nearby are hemlocks – their preferred winter food.
Most of them have been stripped of their greenery, with only tufts at the ends of the branches, where the porkies could not go.

That, and broken sprigs beneath a hemlock, are some of the tell-tale signs of their presence.

We’ve never seen the actual critters, but it’s fun to see traces of their lives.

They seem to favor one path, like dairy cows going to pasture. 

These troughs in the snow are distinctive as the winter goes on, for porcupines don’t bother to stop to pee… they just pee. Today we saw one of these trails in the early stages. You could see where the hairs of his body brushed against the soft snow.
And one tiny spot of yellow snow.

We saw lots of other animal tracks up there, including those of deer.
Their trails are an echo of their nervous nature.

One of my feet started getting numb with cold, even inside my superthick Sorels,
and after a while, we turned back.
Jackie never complains about the cold.
We were feeling it, though, even though we were both pretty well bundled up.
Coming back, you could see that the last snow to fall during the night had been larger flakes.
They sparkled on the surface. 

At this part in my walks, everything starts to look beautiful.
Beech and hemlock were the only bits of color we saw on the Ridge.

Our pace was slower coming back down the trail, which was slippery in places.
Here Jackie caught herself just in time, after a bit of a slide. 

Well, all you can do is laugh.

At the trailhead, we stopped for a few thawing moments at the Warming Hut,
grateful for its cozy warm woodstove, before cutting across the lake again.
I found some amusing literature therein.

And the map-sign outside seemed to say,
“You Are Here, and By the Way, Watch Out for the Giant Glacier”

Back on the lake, we stopped to chat again with the Lone Fisher-men. 

They were still out there, a-fishing.
They had few fish to show for their efforts, but, like us,
they seemed to consider it a day well-spent.


  1. Another wonderful exploration; we have porcupine like that around here too.

  2. How I love revisiting our hikes through your beautiful blog! We always have such a grand time, and the "crazy cold" weather only adds to the sense of adventure.