With the heat bearing down in the dog days of summer skiers can’t help but seek relief in dreams of a deep, cold winter. The question always is, what sort of winter will the next one be?
For the purposes of planning for the coming winter, the relevant question isn’t whether there is or is not a long term trend leading to the demise of winter, but whether there will be a short term renaissance of it this next season.
One thing that is absolutely certain is man’s ability to make accurate long range forecasts has a terrible track record. By long range I mean more than a week away. Some guys are better than others, but few can predict the season to come several months in advance with a track record better than major league sluggers, which means less than 50% accurate. Piers Corbyn is an exception, but he doesn’t share his knowledge for free.
I hadn’t kept track that much since moving to Truckee, but two years ago it was very clear that the squirrels had received word from on high that they needed to stockpile pine cones for the winter to come. As they knew, the winter of 10/11 was long and deep in the Sierra.
On the heels of that year it was obvious that last year would be different. Instead of incessant chattering and throwing down pine cones like bombs on our roof their absence was conspicuous; the silence foreboding. It was as if they had been told “no worries, no hurry,” and the winter came late and was thin.Deb has been saying the Council of Squirrels seems to have put the word out to get it in gear to stock up for the winter to come. As much as I want to believe, it’s August and I don’t want to put too much faith in that. Who is to say that the squirrels in our neighborhood are divinely connected? However, when I received an unsolicited call from a friend down in Visalia about how he has seen an inordinate amount of squirrel activity on his hikes throughout the Sierra this summer it was time to look up and take notice.
Is it going to be a big winter this year? I’m not saying it is, but two things I do know. As ever, it’ll be unlike any winter you can ever remember. Second, the squirrels have been very busy of late, not just in Truckee, but throughout the Sierra. Believe what you want, and plan accordingly.