Snowshoeing on the barrens

My wife and I took a little jaunt on the North Unit Saturday, heading straight north from the Forest Home School on St. Croix Trail. It’s one of my favorite walks on the barrens — through the scrub oak, down into the ravine of Clemens Creek, right turn at Delien-Long Firelane, across the path of the old stagecoach road and then back to the school house foundation by way of Gomulak. It’s about two miles.

There was a lot of snow, although we didn’t really need the snowshoes. The path was pretty packed by previous skiers and hikers and, unfortunately, snowmobilers going where signs are posted prohibiting them. The ravine that holds the headwaters of Clemens Creek was frozen solid so we had no worries about sinking in. (It’s not easily crossable at other times of the year.) We flushed one sharp-tail grouse near the lek this route goes past but saw little other wildlife. A pale nearly full moon rose in the northeast about mid-afternoon and was gorgeous and high by sunset. (The full moon in January rises and sets near where the sun rises and sets in summer.)

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