This weekend I joined EALT on a morning of animal tracking and snowshoeing at their Pipestone Creek property. Unfortunately, we were also looking for evidence of off-road vehicle use (which is prohibited, as the property is protected and only meant for foot traffic). We were lucky, because the snow was deep, but mostly crusted over with the recent thaws and freezes. But, we also had some snow at the end of last week, so we were able to see fresh tracks.
We started finding tracks almost immediately and even had one animal encounter, when a vole, disrupted by all of us noisy humans, scurried across one volunteer’s showshoes.
Most of the tracks we saw where rabbits, mice, voles, squirrels, various canine species (coyotes and dogs, which people bring with them on hike through the property), and a deer. We also saw a few raven tracks and heard the occasiona bird. But, we didn’t see much wildlife as we were too noisy (it’s really hard to be quiet while snowshoeing on crunchy snow). And, we saw lots of trails down near the creek, but we weren’t able to get close enough to see if it was people trails or deer trails (probably both). Unfortunately, we also saw that off-road vehicles were being used along the creek, so we know some people aren’t aware of the restrictions.
The snowshoeing itself was great. Except for a few places, the snoe was strong enough to support us, but there were some areas where a number of us had trouble. All I can say is that walking in knee deep snow in snowshoes is really hard, especially when you don’t know when you will or will not break through the snow. I tripped a couple times and did some yogi worth lunges on occasion in the process.