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Backyard Gems

by Brian Mohr
Heart of Winter 2009

Old Man Winter had been especially generous. Thanks to record snowfall, we had been skiing out the backdoor more than ever – lapping the hardwoods behind the house, skiing to visit our neighbor’s pigs and laying fresh tracks under the rising moon.

Craving something different, we turned to our local river, where an unusually potent January thaw had broken up its icy shell. Now, in March, with a deep snowpack in the valley, the main channel was still wide open. It was a rare combination. We knew that the terrain along the river featured only a few sloping pastures and obscure tree lines, but the urge to float downstream, in our ski boots, was irresistible.

At the put-in below our sleepy village, our friends were already in their boat doing their best to avoid being crushed by a huge, floating river berg. A circular pancake of ice, nearly as wide as the river itself, spun slowly in the large eddy below our hometown gorge. Unable to take our eyes off this icy form, we secured our skis and hopped into our canoe.

About the Author
Brian Mohr and his wife Emily Johnson make a living in the Green Mountains of Vermont by sharing stories and images of their adventures in some of the planet’s wildest reaches – including their own backyard. Their latest and greatest tales are featured in their annual Wild People, Wild Places program – a series of multi-media slideshows and fine art exhibits dedicated to the long-term protection of the places featured. For more info, visit