Michael Barton, owner and head guide of Mountain Goat Ski Guides in Silverton, sent us this note about mysterious movements in the snow:
There’s a regularly occurring phenomenon that is a great mystery to this ski guide. Despite my schooling in science and having apprenticed for five years with world-renowned snow master Chris Landry, I cannot seem to figure this one out. I will open the floor for debate, and maybe someone out there in the world of snow-wandering mountain peoples knows how to solve the puzzle.
To see this, you must be moving quite slowly across the snow—imagine cross-country skiing or skinning gently uphill on a clear, blue-sky morning. It must have snowed recently, and the sun has to have been out. The phenomenon usually occurs in open patches of snow among stands of timber. If you look down at the base of pine trees when the conditions are right, you will see tiny specks of tree debris that seem to have moved of their own volition. They only move a few inches at most, but they leave a melted trail in the snow in spirals, loop de loops, or meanders like a river. … Continue Reading