A Working Time Machine
By Eloise Kraemer
The smell of snow is in the air. A brightly colored leaf drifts down to join those already gathered along the bike path under the ghostly silhouettes of deciduous trees spotted among the many shades of evergreens. The silent trees and bushes, barren of their summer skirts and damp with the recent rain, stand patiently waiting for their fresh white attire, set off by shiny icicle diamonds after the winter snows arrive.
A moose steps out onto the leafy path just ahead of me. I pause and am reminded that I’m not alone. Little birds flit in the trees, calling out “chickadee dee dee” to anyone who will stop to listen. A beaver silently slips into his pond with only the ripples on the surface of the water and a freshly gnawed branch on the bank to give his presence away. Wood ducks land on the water downstream, excitedly quacking out salutations. The moose moves off the trail, too busy with his foraging to be bothered with the likes of me.
I continue along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, a seventy-three-mile system that runs from 6.4 miles west of the Idaho/Montana border on I-90 to Harrison on Coeur d’Alene Lake. I got on the trail at the quiet little town of Pinehurst, at the western end of the Silver Valley in northern Idaho. The part of the trail that goes past Pinehurst is just south of the confluence of Pine Creek and the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. Pine Creek flows rich with secrets and old stories of loggers, miners, and trappers who lived in these mountains and “up the crick” in the draw to the southwest. It rolls in a torrent out of the mountains in the spring, dancing over boulders and washing at the banks, and drops down into the cupped hand of a town.