Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 16, 2011

It's fair to say that Lake Wicwas is now fully enveloped in winter.  The first good storm hit on Wednesday, dropping about a foot of dry powder, which was followed by cold weather that has kept the snow fresh and light right through the weekend.  The coldest night of the year so far occurred on Friday night, with the temperature dropping below zero (-5.4F) for the first time.

Before the storm, I was exploring the ledges where I've seen porcupine, and found a couple of dens in the caves.
Porcupine Den

Porcupines aren't very santiary, as they leave their droppings right at the front door of their dens.  But with a diet consisting almost exclusively of bark and hemlock branches, their scat is very dry and almost like sawdust.  
Porcupine Scat

I set my trail camera, but with the snow and cold weather I didn't get any pictures.  When I went to retrieve it on Saturday, there was only one fresh trail in the snow, leading right to a den nearby.
Porcupine Trail in Fresh Snow

Porcupines leave a very distinctive trail, mostly plowing their way through the snow, leaving a trough with foot prints in it.

While I was watching, a porcupine actually walked right out this cave about three feet in front of me.  I was a lot more startled than it was, as I jumped back, and it just stared at me.  After all my commotion it decided to head back into the safety of its den, much to my approval.

Not much seems to phase porcupines - I have seen them walk up and across ski trails at Gunstock, while skiers are zipping right past them.  The seem to know that no one is going to bother them (except maybe a desperately hungry fisher).  As my good friend Joe Krasucki says, they just seem to have a "don't mess with me" attitude, as seen in this picture taken last winter in about the same location.
"Don't Mess With Me"
There are lots of people out enjoying the lake now with the good ice, deep snow cover, and perfect winter weather.  I saw several cross country skiers, multiple groups of people ice fishing, and there is at least one bob house on the lake.
Ice Fishing on lake Wicwas
Last night another inch of snow fell, and when the sun came out, the light snow blew out of the trees, sparkling like diamond dust in the air.

Lots of people have been out snowshoeing on the Hamlin Trails, and in late afternoon another snow shower came over the lake.  The summit of Gunstock was in a squall, while nearby Lake Winnesquam had sun shining on it.  This is certainly one of the most beautiful and peaceful times around Lake Wicwas.
Squall over Gunstock Mt. with sun shining on Lake Winnesquam (from Crockett's Ledge)

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