Snowshoeing has been tough so far this season. I attempted to lay a trail near upper Barronette, but whenever I entered the trees I was either basically walking on bare ground or tripping over deadfall.
On Tuesday, Joe Allen and his group from Buffalo, N.Y. and I went snowshoeing in the same location, but this time stayed out in the open where the snow had sufficent depth.
Early on we came upon lots of animal tracks. In fact, the mountain slope and forest edges seemed alive with wildlife. Marten, ermine, squirrel, mice and grouse tracks criss-crossed the powdery snow. At the base of a long slope that led up to a series of ledges, we came upon mountain lion tracks. There appeared to be two individuals. Sometimes they were traveling other times playing.
We back tracked the cats tracks that had obviously been made the night before as they had crystalized. We crossed a moose trail and higher up, snowshoe hare sign.
From here we climbed down through a stand of spruce trees and came across wolf tracks at least two maybe three. At one point they made a 10 foot leap across a small ravine.
Near the Soda Butte Creek we came upon an elk skull that I found over 15 years ago. Something had moved it back into the trees. There were tracks of elk nearby.
Circling back we came across several trees that had been marked by a grizzly.
It's funny. In reality we saw only a lone chick-a-dee, but felt we saw so much more.