The footsteps of a stranger


The arrival of winter in Northern Lapland has shown us the behavior of the animal kingdom. The beginning of the winter reveals us signs of some animals we had no cognition for the whole summer. The amount of tracks might be surprising. The whiteness exposes more than animals though, which sometimes makes us wonder.

The heavy, wet snow is the best kind to recognize the trails from, compared to the light and dusty snow, that just flies around in the wind covering everything. A hard snow cover does not give in for the lightest wanderer and the trails might be impossible to spot. Even the hibernating species might leave some trails in the very beginning or end of the snow-covered time period.

"a long chase between a predator and its pray"

By taking a couple of hours walk in the highlands after the ground turned white, revealed a long chase between a predator and its pray as well as many other residents of the wild. The whole area was covered with the tracks of a fox chasing a rabbit. They were all around the forests and the swamps, looking like a fun play, but probably being more about life and death. Dozens of bushes had mice trails coming from under them. Sometimes those tiny tracks looked like a shrunken human walking around and sometimes there were jumps one after another. 

"wing touches in the snow"

There were certainly a few wing touches in the snow, just near by the willow grouse tracks. We could easily see, where they had gotten off and to which direction. In some spots, they had walked for surprisingly long. The spots were easy to predict - bushy places or small pits, mostly on higher grounds. We encountered an open area with so many reindeer trails, there had been a herd a day before. It was interesting to check, whether the tracks were fresh or they had some icy snow crystals from the frosty night before.

"The biggest trails of the woods"

The biggest trails of the woods belonged to the moose. There were a few of them, crossing the huge swamps right from the middle, all going to the same direction. One of the trails certainly belonged to a significant grown-head, based on the size and length of the step. They were walking and running, the shape of the step was different.

"ghost trails"

Sometimes there are "ghost trails", that are under a thin layer of snow, but still visible to the sharp eye. When the snow melts, the tracks get bigger and change shape. The sight can be monstrous. The snow certainly messes with the tracks. Sometimes the trails seem like they come from nowhere or disappear completely in the end. It is beautifully mystical, even though there are probably logical explanations. But isn't it fun to wonder, how the footsteps of a human or an animal without wings can just disappear? If we shall play with the most magical explanations, the ancient beliefs tell us, some people can transform into animals. Maybe they flew away. Or do you think a spirit can make a trail?

Once I followed this skiing track. It was fresh and there was only one trace going into the woods. I imagined, this trail must make a circle and come back from another direction. After a couple of hours I realized, I had made a circle far in the woods. The trail I followed, was the only one connected to the circle. No out going trails. I made the circle again to double check. No trail so I followed this river back home and made my own trail. How did the other person leave the place? 

Snow is such a versatile and beautiful element... The one that reveals and hides stuff. Love it.

LaplandU Girl