Posted on February 18th, 2010 4 comments Add a comment >>
Just some quick highlights here of a recent back country ski into the lesser known trails to Grass Pond and Sheep Meadows via the Hayes Brook Ski Trail.
2 friends and I started out to Sheep Meadows Lean-to, (accessing the trailhead off of Rt 30(north), about 3.8 miles north of the junction of Routes 86 and 30). Finding the usual troops of black-capped chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches, brown creeper, and golden-crowned kinglets buoyed our spirits as we glided over endless deer tracks in the snow. Occasionally we’d spot something different and took time to examine ermine(short-tailed weasel) tracks, snowshoe hare, vole, and mouse tracks. But as our explorations took us to Grass Pond, the wildlife tracks and traces reached a crescendo!
The photo above shows a “playground” of river otter tracks as they slide over the frozen water falls and beaver dams found near Grass Pond. Their sleek bodies flatten out on the snow and they shove off with their large, webbed hind feet allowing for an efficient, and fun, slide along the snow.
This photo(right) shows(in the center of photo) the prints of two hind feet in the middle of the slide.
Nearby was a muddy opening into the side of a beaver dam showing recent otter use. And if that was not enough evidence, my friends then found piles of fresh, and smelly scat(otter poop) close to the hole. Not wanting to overextend our presence we linger just long enough to hear some red crossbills fly overhead.
As we made our way back to the Grass Pond lean-to we skied by the protruding beaver lodge on the pond. Putting ears to the mud and snow on the lodge my friends declare, ” I hear chewing sounds!”. My own ears pick up a gentle whining sound…maybe from the pups just recently born inside the lodge.
Back onto land and the main trail home, our hearts beat wildly. From the physical exertion?… yes. But mostly from a day filled with great nature scenes and wonders!
Photo credit-Brian McAllister