Ever wondered what's it like to spend a night in the woods, the way the animals do? Many animals, in fact, are most active during the night and early morning hours. Well, some of our trackers made an overnight snow camping trip to Twin Lakes this weekend to see for themselves.
Our volunteers on the mountain this week were greeted with blue sky, fun finds, great conditions for snowshoeing, and both the biggest and smallest wildlife tracks we could hope to find on Mt. Hood in the winter.
The forest is full of mysteries, isn't it? Volunteers found some tracking this week, and we caught one on camera. What is this blurry animal, and how can you tell?
Volunteers were diligently combing the mountain for wildlife this weekend, documenting a number of species. The trackers that were out explored two new areas for this season, on the South side of Mt. Hood.
Saturday’s tracking team went out in on-and-off snowy weather, and as they began their snowshoeing, saw lots of squirrel and snowshoe hare tracks right away. When they headed off the trail, though, they quickly found a trail much larger than that. The snowed-in tracks made it hard to distinguish the details, but they suspected a coyote, a fox, or a bobcat, and started following the trail.
Many of our volunteers were happy to get up to Mt. Hood this past weekend, and saw a great range of tracks and sign. For this Winter Weekly, we’ll focus in on the tracking team that combed the area around the Frog Lake Sno-Park, and the creatures large and small that they found signs of.
The area around Frog Lake is at about 4,000 ft. elevation, and lies between the White River and Salmon River drainages, directly south of Mt. Hood’s peak. The thick hemlock and fir forest makes a great home for wildlife.
Thanks to all the volunteers who celebrated the start of 2017 by keeping track of wildlife on Mt. Hood! For our wild friends in the forest, January 1 is just another day, but another big shift has happened -- we’re on the summer side of the winter solstice, and the days are getting longer.
Back at the Cascadia Wild office, we’ve caught up on processing all our camera photos, and we had a number of interesting visitors to our Sandy Flats sites.
It may seem like a quiet week for many of us down in town, but there’s a lot going on up on Mt. Hood. Snowshoe hare are looking for twigs and buds to feed on, and bobcats are looking for the hares. Douglas Squirrels are poking around for the seeds they stashed in the summer and fall, and weasels are poking around beneath the snow for a mouse to make a tasty winter meal.
Our volunteers were out and about this week, too, checking wildlife cameras and looking for tracks of all those critters in the snow.
Happy winter solstice, Cascadia Wild Community. Have you been wondering what our favorite mountain creatures are up on these darkest days of the year?
Well, to answer that question, let’s see what our favorite volunteers were up to on the mountain this week. A team led by expert trackers (and excellent photographers) Garth and Heather parked at Little John Sno-Park, at about 3,300 feet on the East side of Mt. Hood, high in the Hood River Valley. They hiked a snowy road bed through fresh snow, and enjoyed easier tracking conditions than our teams who went out last weekend in actively accumulating powder.
Just about immediately, they found a bobcat trail, which wove back and forth across the road for quite a ways as they kept going.
A group of Cascadia Wild trackers at lower Twin Lake on Sunday walked through actively falling snow, snowshoes sinking deep in drifts that had fallen since the Sunday before.
When they stopped for lunch, they saw the best track of the day: This beautiful impression of a raven taking off from the snow, the tips of its wings brushing the powdery surface. By the time they finished their sandwiches, it had been completely obscured by fresh snowflakes.
Out in the snowy woods each weekend, with sharp eyes and baited cameras, we’re looking for signs and images of wildlife roaming the landscape when we’re not around. When we succeed, we get to look through a window in time back to when the critter left a track or was caught on camera.