Ants and Skiers

The Door Peninsula Astronomical Society Viewing Night, scheduled for Saturday has been canceled due to the weather (and the Packer game).

Family Ski is also canceled because of poor trail conditions.

Trails: Ski trails have deteriorated and will be closed until we get more snow.                   Hiking trails open.

Crossroads at Big Creek was a busy place over the holidays. Ski conditions were not terrific, but there was snow!  The ski and hiking trails were rolled, but the snow depth was not adequate for tracking, so some skiers just took off across the fields and made their own tracks. And as soon as there was a new trail, other skiers followed it.

Cross-country skiers are like ants, in some ways, anyhow. Have you ever watched ants on a mission? Female ants don’t mess around. They head directly for their destinations and return just as directly to their anthills.

Ants travel in amazingly straight lines. Is this due to some inherent sense of direction…some instinct for efficient travel? Not really. Ants are like cross country skiers….the ones that leave the groomed trails. The person who opens a  new trail may wobble and meander a bit, especially over bumpy terrain. But it doesn’t seem to matter much. By the time half a dozen skiers have traveled a trail, the tracks become remarkably straight and almost perfectly parallel. The explanation is simple. Each skier makes minor corrections to the trail, easing out the wobbles, cutting the inappropriate corners,  averaging male and female straddles.  After a day or two, an ungroomed trail looks like it had been put in by machine.

Ant trails are like that. The first ant to search for and  locate a desirable destination–a good food source, for example–may and probably does wander all over the place. Her trail may meander inefficiently every which way, but the next  ant which follows her  trail may cut a few corners and perhaps short-cut across the obvious meanders. The next ant eases out the kinks making the trail straighter. With each subsequent ant, the trail becomes more direct.

Ants leave a scent as they travel. As more and more ants travel in a straight line, the scent becomes increasingly compelling. Therefore, ants, even days later, will be able to follow the scent trail which is straighter than a bee line.

Ants and cross-country skiers have something in common. They stick to the straight and narrow.

If you would like to follow a trail on a pair of skis, you are invited to participate in the Family Ski  held ever Sunday afternoon, snow conditions permitting. As a way of getting people in touch with nature and encouraging  environmentally-gentle exercise, Friends of Crossroads loan skis (and snowshoes) free of charge between 1:30 and 3:30. We ask that equipment be returned before dark.

After dusk on Saturday night, January 12,  members of the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society invite the public to explore the beautiful Door County Night Sky. Participants can learn some of  the winter constellations and view some of the more spectacular celestial objects. This is a clear-skies only event. Participants are asked to use the Utah Street Entrance to Crossroads to reach the Astronomy Campus.





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