Kelly and I put in the lower part of my research snowshoe trail at the lower end of Barronette. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I like to start a trail at the highway then push straight up to the cliffs. This way any animal that crosses the slope will have to cross my trail somewhere. It’s a good indication as to which wildlife is abundant or non-existent that year.
This trail usually takes me two sessions to lay, but right away I knew this year was going to be different. Last year I could “float” right over the deadfall, but then we had three times the amount of snow. Instead of going straight up, Kelly and I found ourselves drifting left then right trying to avoid chest high downed logs.
We were a little over an hour into the trail when I’d had enough. I figured we were over half way. The sugar snow and deadfall made the going exhausting. I was so disappointed in the meandering trail we tried to find a straighter route back to the car. Once again deadfall made this impossible and our trail soon wound in directions we didn’t want to go.
Two days later Darby High showed up. I thought I would use their young legs to finish my trail to the cliffs.
Some of the hardier boys took off and were soon out of sight. I followed with the main body. Sign was encouraging as it had been for Kelly and I. A large male ermines tracks dented the snow everywhere. Ruffed grouse and snowshoe hare tracks were also abundant. Marten tracks appeared higher up. We were about a half a hour in when I noticed we were heading too far to the right. I yelled up to the boys.
“Cut back to the left!”
Their reply, “We’re still on your trail!”
“Oh,” I replied sheepishly, “carry on”.
Eventually my trail ran out and they began finishing the top half. Deadfall became worse. It seems we were climbing over down logs every fifty feet or so. I figured we were over three quarters of the way to the top, but this was not a trail I would use in the future, so I called an end to our attempt.
I will probably use pieces of the trail now and then and the abundant wildlife sign was encouraging. We did come across a Douglas fir snag with two large holes that reminded me of a boreal nest I had found two years ago, so it wasn’t a total failure.