Weather reports for this Saturday were grim – heavy snow, freezing rain, wicked winds. Normally a recipe for stocking up on firewood and remaining indoors until the storm blew over. However the day began with sun and cloud, gentle winds, just below freezing, so we decided to stick with our original plan – to hike the Dromore Trail system in King’s county, PEI. We discovered the 1.5 km Campbell Road to the trail head had not been plowed. Fortunately the snow was only about 15 cm deep, and a snowmobile provided a packed track to follow. At the trailhead we stepped off the road and turned left at the sign for the Birding Trail. We thought we were on the trail, but after a few meters the path seemed to peter out. Nor could we see any ribbon markers on the trees. We turned back and took the trail on the other side of the road.
The Center Loop took us along the Pisquid River, running stark black between snow covered banks, occasionally flowing under fallen trees and shelves of ice. Our trail took us up and down, over swampy areas now covered with ice, crackling under the snow. Here and there we saw intriguing explosions of white crystals on sheets of ice, and sometimes amidst bright green mosses.
We also came across beards of moss hanging from branches, and antler-like lichens clinging to tree trunks. So much green amidst the white and dark of a winter forest.
We stepped carefully along the narrow path, uncertain of the ground beneath the fresh snow. No one had been on this trail for at least 2 days. The periodic white ribbons marking the trail were the only indication that we were on the right path. At least we hoped it was the right path. There were very few signs along that trail.
Two hours after we began our hike we made it out again. Not a snowflake had fallen (except for occasional small avalanches from disturbed branches, and the cold rush of ice-water trickling down my back). Apparently our storm had been cancelled, but we were happy we didn’t cancel our hike.
Back at home we drank hot tea to accompany our poppyseed cake, while watching birds outside the window of the solarium. The usual visitors for this time of year – flocks of blue jays, juncos, chickadees, goldfinches and a few downy and hairy woodpeckers.
This is what winter on PEI can be….but it’s just beginning!