A walk in the woods

Sunny. Calm wind. 10 degrees F. What to do? What to do? Get on the ATV and head to the woods of course!

I spent a good part of the time exploring the almost 1,000 acres I will be trapping on this winter. The land is mostly flat, frozen and game trails are every where, which makes for easy walking. Thank you moose and bears! This is one of the areas I will be working this winter. I have to wait a bit to get on the other because it features a river, some sloughs, a few ponds and muskeg.

It was so nice to just stroll through the woods and look at how busy all the animals have been. Bella had her nose to the ground the entire time – sensory heaven for a lab! Sasha wandered here and there and I would have to whistle for her every now and again. Spud, the fattest husky in the world was always just 10 feet or so off my side. He is a worrier and concerned about safety – his own. We had a small crisis when his fattiness fell into a midden (an underground squirrel nest). I had to put a leash under his belly and lift his butt up and onto the trail. Spud seriously needs to get on a diet!!

Bella digging for squirrels.

Bella digging for squirrels.

I was strolling along and the woods opened up into an area about the size of the average living room and it was full of Labrador tea! It is good to remember these places because they can provide medicine in times of trouble. Labrador tea is a plant whose leaves were and are used to make a tea that is good for cold, arthritis and digestive upset. Too much of the spring and summer leaves can actually cause a bad gut, but the fall and winter leaves have the opposite effect because the juice has gone out of them. Labrador tea has a very strong smell and there is no doubt when you are standing in the middle of a patch of it!

A patch of Labrador tea. It has been imprinted on my memory and marked in my GPS.

A patch of Labrador tea. It has been imprinted on my memory and marked in my GPS.

Bella the Lab surrounded by Labrador tea.

Bella the Lab surrounded by Labrador tea.

There was also a lot of false tinder conk on the trees. Knowledge of this fungus could prove to be lifesaving. Cutting a thin slice off the fungus trama or flesh (the cinammon colored interior part) and using a knife to “fluff” up the trama results in some tinder that readily catches a spark from a flint and steel or a fero rod. The result is a long lasting smouldering. A false tinder conk can also be hollowed to the trama layer and an ember placed in there. The conk can then be carried for several hours and a new fire started easily and quickly. This is a way first peoples carried fire.

False tinder conk.

False tinder conk. Who knew a tree can come with it’s own fire starter?

After exploring it was time to head to the bridge and check on the river. The thin ice is already a highway for the local squirrel and rabbits!


The river today. Hello winter!

The river today. Hello winter!

P.S. Still no grouse in Alaska! LOL.



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