Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I decided to spend a couple of days visiting a friend on Lake Superior near Wawa and it wasn't hard to pass the time in this spectacular place. The scenery was amazing and Superior is such a special and sacred place. There was a lot of snow in this area that comes in off the lake and it was a good idea to use snowshoes since it was so deep. The water was so blue and always never ceases to amze me. I could spend a lot of time in this area and look forward to coming back in the spring and paddling on the lake and on some of the many rivers located in this area.
After seeing the sheep on the pass I spent the night in Cranbrook with a friend and then made a 'straight-shot' from there all the way to the Manitoba/Ontario border. It was quite a mission, around 20 hours of driving. The prairies were locked in a deep freeze and I decided to cover ground while the roads were relatively clear and the temperatures were bone-chilling cold. It dipped down to -34 degrees C and felt like -45 with the windchill. I spent the next night in the car and managed to get 5 hours sleep before getting up and heading on. Around Ignace I found a spot where 7 wolves had crossed the road and there were some great tracks and trails in the snow. It was hard to not stop every 5 minutes as I was passing many animal trails in this beautiful northern Ontario wilderness. There were numerous wolf trails crossing the road along with many moose and deer as well. It was a great drive down to the head of lake Superior and Thunder Bay. From there I drove the last 5 hours in an intense snowstorm and spent the night with a friend just outside of Wawa. It was good to get of the roads and have a nice warm spot to spend the night.
On my way out of the Kootenays I came across this herd of Rocky mountain bighorn sheep on the Salmo-Creston pass. It was cool to see these animals so close and to be able to examine thier tracks. My friend and I had been talking about the difference between the tracks of deer, sheep and mtn goats so this was a good chance to compare. Can you see the difference between these tracks and the tracks of a deer? Notice the 'blockiness' and elongated shape of the shhep compared to the round and 'heart-shaped' tracks of a deer. These animals were making thier way along the side of the road and feeding on shrubs as they went. There were a few mature rams and many younger animals mixed in with this herd of 18 animals.
Up to this point I had spent time trailing mountain lions and lynx, but had only found one single bobcat track in some exposed soil in the forest. A friend of mine was on his way up the mountain to visit us and he ended up coming face to face with a bobcat that was hunting along the edge of the logging road. He saw it a couple of times as it made its way up the mountain. What an experience. Later that day we ventured down the hill to look at the tracks and we were greeted with some super clear bobcat prints! It was exciting to follow this animal and see the difference in the size between its other wild relatives. There was a point where it went up an embankment and investigated what we believed to be an old bear den. This cave under the rock went in at least 10 ft. and had plenty of room for an animal even as big as a bear to take shelter. I was very happy to have seen these tracks and thankful for all the animals that I had tracked up
until this point.
until this point.
From Nelson we travelled north to the Duncan lake area located between the Selkirk and Purcell Mountains. We set up a sweet base camp near Glacier Creek and spent 3 days tracking in this beautiful wilderness area. We were hoping to find wolf tracks and some how we found a spot next to the Duncan river where at least two wolves had crossed the stream. It was in a flat section of the river valley that contained lots of elk and deer sign. It was interesting to find these tracks located in a sandy area while everything else was covered in over a foot of snow. The only sign was these few sets of tracks, but nothing in the snow. It had been snowing the day before we found the tracks and there was no evidence of them in the snow. It was exciting however to get a brief glimpse of these animals passage in this secluded area. Some of the other tracks that we saw included marten, deer, elk, otter, great-blue heron and red squirrels. The epic tracking continues!