Don’t eat yellow snow

But what if the yellow snow is located right by the waterhole, presumably leaching its contents into the ice and possibly the drinking water below? I scowl at the mess, at the paw prints that give away the culprits: wolves.

But what if the yellow snow is located right by the waterhole, presumably leaching its contents into the ice and possibly the drinking water below?

I scowl at the mess, at the paw prints that give away the culprits: wolves. The hand-sized tracks come along shore, zeroing in on the axe and shovel. I check – no pee marks. Well, that’s a bonus. Instead, they sniffed around the hole and liberally doused the snow. Yeah, I love you guys, too.

Long live our water filter. Who knows what else is floating around down there besides molecules of wolf urine? Fish and beaver feces, maybe the odd little carcass. Still, seeing is believing. So even if some of the mess has already soaked through, and even though it all gets filtered anyway, I grab the shovel and start cleaning up the mess.

An interesting challenge, since they basically peed on an ice sculpture, which is immune to the feeble stabs I’m able to administer with the snow shovel. A bit of yellow crumbles off and lies forlorn on the plastic palm of the shovel. I stand with the urine crystals held aloft and think feverishly of where to put it. Because wherever I dump this, it will go viral – our three dogs will need to pee all over it, today, tomorrow, and for a good time to come. And if the wolves are inclined to stop by again, they’ll add to it again.

The dogs are already sitting in readiness, a row of urine dispensers, noses aquiver. They are not allowed anywhere near the waterhole for hygienic reasons, but this is sorely tempting. I stomp by them, grumbling about the things you have to deal with out here, and dump the urine sample at the base of an alder bush. It is instantly rushed by twitching nostrils, and I feel the dogs’ eyes burning a hole into my back as I go to attack the rest of frozen wolf pee. I’m messing with the message, they’re telling me.

Back at the biohazard site, I abandon the snow shovel in favour of the axe. Not a good idea, I realize in the instant pee crystals fling themselves at my face and the waterhole. True, I’ve dislodged some yellow ice but unfortunately turned it into shrapnel in the process. Little nuggets of it twinkle everywhere. I herd the errant crystals onto the snow shovel with my gloves and, dusting the thinly frozen surface of the waterhole carefully, manage to clean up most of them.

Another trip to the alder and the eager dogs. This is what mail carriers must feel like when delivering long-awaited news. On my way back to the waterhole, I decide to attack things from a different angle. I’ll hack a big piece off the ice chunk, well beyond the sprinkle border. That way, I not only avoid another urine explosion but also remove those subtle scent molecules that have surely travelled beyond the yellow radius. After all, I have to think of the temptation to my dogs.

This course of action brings a measurement of success. The ice block cracks and I manage to somehow fit it on the snow shovel. Problem is, it’s too heavy and awkward to carry it this way. I briefly consider chopping it in two and risking further contamination of everything, decide against it. There is only one way to do this. I grab the yellow ice block with my gloves (after all, they have already received their baptism as wolf-pee dusters) and stagger through the snow. The dogs are beside themselves with excitement by now, wagging their approval and nosing me when I dump my loot at the alder bush. I know, after all these years, I never cease to surprise them with unfathomable activities.

What remains to be done and renders all my previous careful urine removal a moot point is chipping away the yellow ice at the bottom. Gravity being what it is, plenty of wolf pee had soaked into the ice surrounding the waterhole. I grit my teeth, and chop and shave away at it with the axe until I declare the job done. It’s as clean as I can get it, which can’t be said for my now aromatic gloves.

I wonder if the wolves will come back and what they’ll make of the wandering ways of their pee.

Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon River south of Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read