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.
It’s winter on Mt. Hood! The snow is falling, and our volunteers are busily documenting wildlife activity by surveying for wildlife tracks and keeping our motion-activated cameras baited and working.
The first weekly winter update focuses on Pocket Creek, which is a location we’ll be getting to know well this winter: there are two wildlife cameras there, and the first tracking trip of the season surveyed the flats between Newton Creek and the East Fork of the Hood River there this past Sunday.
When our volunteers get out of their cars at the Pocket Creek Sno-Park, right about where Newton Creek crosses Highway 35, they find themselves at about 3,500 feet, and if they face southwest they may get a glimpse of a ridge that rises to about 5,500 ft. The Badger Creek Wilderness is on the other side of that ridge. As they head into the woods, they find themselves among Doug Firs, Silver Firs, Western Hemlocks, and White Pines in the mid-elevation Silver Fir forest zone.