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COVERING GROUND

Tina Hartell

The woods have opened up again.

The heat and the rain of the past five months created a jungle and any movement through the woods meant bush whacking through ferns, stumbling over hidden terrain, breaking through leaves, and swatting at bugs. It was slow going. But during his precious time of year known as stick season (the 10th of 11 seasons in Vermont according to Bobo), between when the leaves drops and the snow falls, the woods become a playground. And if you don’t mind wearing a little bit of safety orange (rifle season for whitetail is from Nov 16-Dec 1), moving through the open forest floor quickly and efficiently is a real treat.

This:

Or this:

Now the ground is hard and dry, you can see well ahead of you, the leaf pack is noisy which does eliminate any wildlife sightings but makes for fun, crunchy walking. The air is cool and the bugs are gone. I can criss-cross Bobo’s Mountain in a couple of hours in these conditions. Of course, then I see this.

A white birch down on the a mainline.

I have a confession: I haven’t been in the woods since late April. It’s going to be ugly out there with five months worth of fallen trees, porcupine nibbles, tumbling branches, and squirrels. I’ll be out there soon enough with saws and a sled full of repair equipment. Until then, I’m just going to walk the woods.