Sunday, February 22, 2015

February 22, 2015

This week I took another off-lake excursion, this time up to Franconia notch.  The snow is so deep around the lake that we thought we might find easier going on a well traveled trail.  Plus, it was an absolutely beautiful day, so we thought a trip up to the higher mountains would be well rewarded - and we were right!
Artists Bluff Trail

We hiked the Artists Bluff and Bald Mountain loop trail right in Franconia notch.  It's an easy 1.5 mile loop with some beautiful views of Canon, Lafayette, and the Franconia range.
Mt. Lafayette
Canon Mountain

The trail was packed out and the snow soft but firm so we only needed yaktrax on our feet.  If you're interested in trying it, just be warned that the sign for the trail head is hidden by the huge snowbanks - we almost didn't find it.  Here is a link:  Bald Mtn - Artist Bluff

Of course, one need not drive to the White Mountains to see that gorgeous cobalt blue sky.  Anyone can see that right here at Lake Wicwas as well!
A ledge on the shore of Lake Wicwas

I did take a trip out around the lake to see if any wildlife was moving about in the deep snow, and there were very few sign of activity.  Lots of mice were active, as they don't sink into the snow.  

Mouse Activity on top of Four Feet of Snow

I wonder if they know the fox aren't as much of a threat with the deep snow cover.  I didn't see a single fresh fox track, though there were some left from before the most recent snow.

There were a few squirrel tracks also, but not many.  It appears they are using the snow to provide cover from their predators as well, traveling under the snow in tunnels, and popping up only here and there.

They are fun to watch:

I saw no deer tracks.  They are probably keeping very close quarters in their deer yards where they pack down the snow.  It will be a hard year for the deer;  they will quickly consume the available food in their yard, and then will have to venture out farther.  Between the deep snow, scarcity of food, and vulnerability - increased by weakness from lack of nutrition - there are likely to be a lot casualties.  This is where hunters, thinning out the herd in the fall, provide an important aspect of wildlife management.

The largest animal tracks I saw were from a mink, and even the mink was traveling on a plowed roadway, taking advantage of easier transit.  A thin layer of blown snow left nice tracks.

Mink Tracks

We were able to experience a rare astronomical event on Friday night, with three objects, venus, mars, and the crescent moon, all lined up together.  
I'm always amazed that the portion of the moon facing away from the sun is illuminated enough by light reflected back from earth to make it visible back on earth again.

At the other end of the day was a beautiful sunrise after new snow overnight. 
Day or night, it's a beautiful place.

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