Actually, my day started out with another little surprise. When I let the dog out this morning (at 6:30 in the AM), I saw my first little tweeter bird; I haven't seen any all winter long. I know the harsh cold had to have taken a hit on them. I found a little frozen body some years ago that looked like it had been blown out of a tree. I didn't find any such thing this year, but the absence of their cheerful chatter said that either they had migrated (I hope) somewhere further south, or that something much more dire had happened to them. I have yet to hear them twittering to each other so this one little guy doesn't have anyone to sing to yet.
But in other pleasant news: Since we have been expecting to need to babysit the boats through breakup, I have been doing my best to make it down to the boats from time to time. It's been unnaturally warm over the last couple weeks, and the snow has been melting fast. I have also kept in contact with the lodge for river news. Since the entire winter was so abysmally cold all winter long, we expected breakup to come with the roar of an ice dragon (note, I didn't say 'lion'). Instead, unless it somehow isn't over yet, it came rather like a kitten, leaving the water quite low.
I walked down there on the 30th of April to discover that pretty much all of the portion of river I could see was clear leaving only our runway floating free but still in one piece. Surprise me, but if I didn't know that there was probably a lot of intact snow still blocking the narrower channels further up river, there might have been enough water to drive the boat completely out. But I say that just as an indication of what the level of water was, not that it was at all drivable.
Knowing the snow on the trail was soft (it hadn't frozen at night for several nights in a row), I wore my snowshoes. I took the dog with me too; she does take her duty as guard dog quite seriously and gets upset with I take off without her. She is getting old and she was having some trouble with the soft snow. Where she was having the most trouble, the snow was only around knee deep for her but she's kinda stiff now and she wasn't at all anxious to trot on ahead.
There's a place along the trail that fills with spring snow-melt every year. This time there was only the highest ridge of left-over trail above the water. I side-stepped across that part, managing to break it down for her to walk across, but she didn't follow me, opting to wade across the icy water that was nearly neck deep for her.
When I went down there again day before yesterday, I left the dog behind. I was planning on trying to find a way around all that water and I knew the walking would be that much more difficult for her. I would likely be going through deeper snow and it wouldn't have been packed before. As it turns out, going around the water wasn't as easy as I'd hoped, so I'm doubly glad I decided to leave her behind.
The river day before yesterday was a surprise. After only two days, the runway was completely gone, leaving behind only a handful of truck-sized chunks of ice stuck along our side of the river right in front, and the water level about two feet lower than it was before. I called the lodge to learn that most of the main ice was still there, so breakup wasn't over yet.
Planning to walk down there again yesterday, I called the lodge for another river update to learn that he already had a boat in the water and had made the drive up to Skwentna. Was breakup over already??? and without the normal water levels rising and lowering three or four feet (if not more) four or five times as jams shoved their way down the river, getting stuck from time to time. Well, okay so I didn't bother to walk down there today. I had dug out a pair of waders to wear and I didn't relish walking in them. I don't get along with waders very well.
So, I headed out this morning wearing only my snow boots, figuring I'd turn around if I couldn't get across that spring run-off spot on our trail. Much to my surprise I could step across where the water was running in one spot and in another spot, I made it across water that was only ankle deep. Surprise, surprise. When I reached the river, it was to see that I had missed another bit of breakup. More ice had been shoved up onto the island out front and some of it was stacked up on other chunks. There was even one spot where a third piece of ice was on top, though I can't imagine how it got there unless it was already on top of it's perch before it all got deposited down here. The water had also gone down another foot or more. Sigh - I can't go anywhere until the water comes back up. Not to mention that the water is so unnaturally low. That is an indication that one or more of the rivers upriver from us has yet to cut loose, but it could also be an indication of just how dry the snow was this year. Who knows; it's still early. I don't NEED to go anywhere (work) for another two or three weeks at least.