The temperature had dropped to 5 below on a clear Christmas Eve. Even after the sun had been up an hour (11:00), the temperature was barely topping zero. We called Deb and Jeff and suggested snowshoeing instead of skiing. We needed effort without glide or self-induced wind chill. Plus Paul's feet had gotten cold in his ski boots the previous day at 10 degrees despite all the work he did breaking trail.
Jeff broke trail as we tromped along the springs that feed Lake 6 and over the hill to the springs that feed Lake 5. These springs had been trapped by a beaver dam for years and the pond had been dubbed Monkeyflower for the small yellow flowers found here. Then the summer before last, the dam burst. This past summer, the fine silty mud that used to be the pond bottom was covered in bright green vegetation. The salmon didn't seem to mind the change; they were still swimming up stream past the old dam.
The American dippers didn't seem to mind either. These hardy Robin-sized birds, also called ouzels, weather an Alaska winter by fishing in open water. They not only endure, they immerse themselves. They dive into the water to find their prey. We saw at least 4 dippers along the springs creeks.
Another amazing bird greeted us back in the woods as we climbed over another small ridge and descended to Lake 6. The tiny golden-crowned kinglet, smaller than a chickadee, survives the cold and finds food, but Deb had just been telling us on Christmas Eve that the ornithologists can't figure out how they do it.
Our Christmas circuit of the Numbered Lakes was complete.
Sun dog around the solar noon sun