Cascadia Wild blog
News from the Wolverine Tracking Project and more
Sunday's trip was only a few miles away, as the raven flies, from Saturday's trip at Trillium Lake but Barlow Pass is about a thousand feet higher. The team saw and heard quite a few ravens and were visited by gray jays, but couldn't determine if the birds had actually flown from Trillium Lake. Haha.
The tracks today were abundant, and the team got a chance to study all sorts of variations on snowshoe hare and squirrel sign and trails in the snow. They had the opportunity to see what sort of trail patterns were left by Snowshoe hares traveling at different speeds and sitting, as well as squirrels jumping in and out of trees on their travels and just bounding along the ground.
With a lot of data recorded for the day and some energy left, the team ascended a small summit off the pass. A steep climb rewarded them with some awesome views east to the sunny desert, and the chance for a mountaintop selfie.
Happy tracking and trails everyone!
Saturday's tracking team headed to Trillium Lake, where they found great snow conditions. A great deal of snow fell the night prior and there was an additional dusting on the morning of the trip. This meant that the team knew that the squirrel, hare, and bobcat tracks they discovered on their hike were very fresh! As on all our trips, the team took careful data documentation with their finds of the day.
Excellent work team! We hope everyone is enjoying this year's tracking season.
Our intrepid trip leaders went tracking this past weekend in the forest around Pocket Creek, on the southeast side of Mt. Hood. With the exception of light dustings of powder in the clearing the snow conditions were... pretty darn terrible. With The Wolverine/Forest Carnivore Tracking Project characteristic spirit, though, we made the most of the day focusing on animal sign rather than tracks, and came back with data on bear, and elk without ever seeing their tracks, as well as tallying squirrels and making snowshoe hare track casts.
At around 4,000 feet, the Pocket Creek area is situated in the Silver Fir forest zone, so we were surrounded by a great mix of Western Hemlocks, Cedars, the occasional White Pine, and of course, Silver Fir!
Paul's cool technique of illuminating tracks from under the snow with a flashlight really brought out the detail on this snowshoe hare track:
Paul really wanted to save the track for later so he poured a plaster cast! I'm sure many of you remember the plaster track casts from training, and we have Paul to thank for quite a few of them. Thanks Paul!
Can you spot the animal sign in this picture? Hint: Chris is pointing at it.
We trip leaders pooled our knowledge and are fairly certain this is a bear marking!
Thanks for staying in touch and for tracking with Cascadia Wild! We are excited to see what the rest of this winter tracking season has in store for us.
This weekend's edition of tracking adventures took our group Little John. This is our second visit to Little John this year. It was quite a soggy day filled with much rainfall but surprisingly, despite the rain, there were a great deal of visible tracks; plenty of Douglas squirrel, snowshoe hare, grouse and even a weasel! The group once again documented no shortage of Douglas squirrels, but saw no tracks of Gray squirrels this time, they are quite a rare sight. This is the second time our teams have seen signs of that ground-dwelling bird this season, how exciting.
Look at that Snowshoe hare bounding! The back toes are quite splayed out! Splayed rear feet help support this Snowshoe hare in deep snow. This is a nice set of tracks and you can really visualize how this hare is moving. I bet all who are going on these tracking outings are becoming quite skilled at spotting Snowshow hare tracks!
It was great that the group was able to find a wealth of tracks in the snow despite the rainy conditions. There are plenty of other animal signs waiting to be discovered all around us, so even if the weather ever ends up not ideal for tracking a keen eye can still spot animals signs. Keep your eyes open in all conditions and you never know what you can find. A keen observer from our weekend group at Little John found these chews on some branches:
Continue to keep your eyes open and let us know what you find. We would love to hear from you and see pictures of anything interesting that you happen to find on your journeys into the wild.
This weekend was great! A group of trackers traveled to to Bennett pass to see what they could find.
Several feet of snow had accumulated in the area with approximately 2 inches of fresh snow that fell from the night before, with additional flurries here and there as the group snowshoed around Bennett Pass for the day.
Many snowshoe hare, a few Douglas squirrel, and even bobcat tracks and signs were found. The first bobcat trail that was discovered was backtracked about a hundred feet and an odd disturbance in the snow was found. It was nearly a perfect circle etched into the snow about 4-6 ft diameter. There were no other set of tracks leading to it, no noticeable discoloration, and it was slightly offset to the bobcat trail. Unlike members of the dog family, which frequently chase down their prey, bobcats move slowly and stealthily through areas, pausing and sitting frequently, hoping to see prey before prey sees them. They generally do not cover large distances while hunting. Bobcats have what are called “hunting lays,” spots where they lay with their feet under them, ready to pounce on prey passing by. This disturbance in the snow could have been a possible hunting lay for the bobcat. Another speculation is that sometimes bobcats will roll back and forth on the ground to deposit scent from the sebaceous gland. Below are some pictures of the site the tracking group happened upon:
To the left is a picture of one of the trip participants observing the detail of a bobcat track that was carefully excavated out of the snow. They are using natural light to back light the print in hopes of seeing more detail of the track.
What an eventful day and some great bobcat signs. Hope everyone is enjoying tracking season and we are all excited about the upcoming trips!
For this weekend's tracking trip a group of 6 people journeyed up Lolo Pass road to the Horse Camp area in search of forest carnivore tracks.
It was a very cold day, the hike started at 16 degrees Fahrenheit, but thankfully, very little wind. No snow had fallen the previous 2 days and there were an abundance of tracks that were present. The top 2 inches of snow was very dry, which meant you could see tracks but they were very difficult to make out details of each print.
The most abundant tracks were squirrel with a peppering of Snowshoe hare tracks as well.
One thing the group thought was very neat and interesting was the snow. All aong the river in the area they were at which was downstream from a bridge, the entire top layer of snow consisted of very large flakes that were all standing on edge, as seen in the picture to the right. The leaders of the trip, Paul and Lela, figured that this was in fact, frost that formed on the snow. The high humidity near the river along with the crazy cold temperature must have made this occur. In all other locations that were hiked to this day the snow was not like this at all, the group observed.
Heaps of weasel tracks were discovered all along the river bank that is featured in teh panarama picture above. Here is a close up of one of those tracks found.
What an eventful trip with much evidence of animal activity in Lolo pass!
We hope you can join us on one of this season's trips and if you are unable to please check back here at the blog to see what interesting things we find and places that we will travel to next.
Happy tracking and keep the snow coming!