Because snowshoeing is not technically difficult, we have the luxury of allowing the terrain and the habitat to do most of the teaching for us. We are free, then, to do other things, such as dabbling in winter natural history interpretation and track analysis. Featured on this page are some photos from a good day in the woods.
It began when we drove down an access road on a inch of new snow. It quickly became evident that we were only the second party to travel the road that day: the first, being a pack of Timber Wolves. We parked, walked back, and examined ‘the sign.’ There seemed to be at least four of them, and they were in no hurry: pausing to mill around, mark numerous scent-posts, take a snow-bath, and conduct other wolf-business. Their mood eventually changed when something alarmed them, at which point they abruptly applied the brakes, and quite literally made-tracks out of there.
The day also featured a tour of a Beaver impoundment, a trip down an early logging-era railroad grade, and a surprise encounter with a Ruffed Grouse.
During the winter months, Ruffed Grouse—lacking a downy base-layer—must burrow-roost in order to sleep warmly. They generally do this by flying into the snow, tunneling a short distance, spending the night, and then either walking, or flying out. Upon finding, what appeared to be, an example of the walk-out variation, we moved closer to investigate. As it turned out, what we had really found was an example of the walk-in variation, and the bird in question was still very much—in-residence. This led to a surprise for everyone–the grouse, included—when it burst out of the snow and flew away, under the eyes of the amazed onlookers. One never knows what to expect.
Photo credits: Melanie Muske