Saturday, February 25, 2017

February 25, 2017 - Snowshoe Tour

Today the Lake Wicwas Association held its first ever Guided Snowshoe Tour, in the Hamlin/Eames Conservation Area.  A hardy group started out in what looked like dreary conditions, but as soon as we departed from the trailhead the sky cleared and the sun shone through, giving us a beautiful warm day to tour the beaver ponds. 
Morning sun burning off the fog

We hiked the Four Ponds Loop, including a stop at the old Stanton cellar hole, and a couple of spur trails to beaver ponds.
The result of warm moist air encroaching on the cold snow pack of a beaver pond

The snow was soft but firm enough underfoot for good traveling.  We stopped at the bridge on the Blue Link to the Yellow Trail to observe the back side of the beaver dam.
Bridge below the beaver pond
We also went onto the pond to see the front side of the dam, as well as the beaver lodge.
On the beaver pond
The lodge is the white mound on the left, the dam the longer, lower mound in the shadows on the right

We then continued on to complete the Four Ponds Loop.  Along the way we saw tracks of squirrel, mink, fox, porcupine, and even fisher! 
Fisher Tracks

We found that stream crossings are good places to look for tracks, as animals frequent the open water to drink.  Someone noted the lack of deer prints - they tend to not travel very far when the snow is deep.  Even with all the warm weather this week there is still a deep snow pack in the forest.
Only the flowing streams have melted through the heavy snow pack

We also saw signs of porcupine dining in the hemlock trees, the snow below littered with dropped hemlock branches, and talked about how porcupine have very little fear of other animals with the exception of the fisher.  The brave, strong, quick fisher is one of the very few animals that will take on a porcupine.  A desperate bobcat or coyote might try but not have good time of it.  And then of course, a domestic dog that has lost enough of its original wolf DNA to have forgotten to avoid this prickly attraction.

All told, we toured 1.9 miles of this winter wonderland.  Here is a map of the route we walked.

By the time we returned to the parking lot, tired, yet invigorated, the sun had melted enough snow that there was noticeably more water running underneath the bridge at the trailhead.  We were tired, but a great time was had by all!  Many thanks to everyone who participated and provided their contribution to our knowledge about this area and its wildlife.  Shall we do it again?
The gallant LWA Snowshoe Team

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