This report is provided by Cathy Shill, owner of The Hole Hiking Experience.
March. The month has shared glimpses of spring. Snow continues to accumulate but we have had more days of sun. Presently, snowpack is 131 inches deep so almost twelve feet! We have surpassed average snowfall with 475 inches recorded so far this season.
Spring weather will depict the rate of snowmelt so it could be a late season to access the high country. Around town, the hills are beginning to show brown patches but the valley is still predominately white.
Bears are emerging from dens. The first week of March, a grizzly was seen in Hayden Valley in Yellowstone. In general, males emerge earlier than females. Stay alert and if you see a carcass steer clear especially if covered by dirt. This means a bear or possibly a mountain lion has claimed it.
Birds are migrating back to the valley. In town, we have robins, pine siskins, juncos, red-tail hawks, blackbirds, and lots of geese. I have yet to see a Mountain Bluebird but sightings have been reported and driving north in the valley is a good place to look. You can't beat the brilliant blue of the male against a snowy landscape. Each day brings newness so a fun time to be out and about and alert to change. The osprey will return to nesting sites any day- a sure sign of summer quickly approaching.
I did see a blue grouse while snowshoeing in the park. It walked up to us then jumped on a log, dug in the snow, and strutted in a way of celebration. It was perfect timing since it was March 20 so the first day of spring. They do winter in the area and according to animal legend; grouse signifies the cycle of spring. The timing was perfect!
The National Elk Refuge will stop feeding the elk and bison this week. The refuge and areas near town are starting to "green up" as the vegetation begins to photosynthesize and produce sugars. Chlorophyll is the by-product of this process making leaves green. This is a joyous time for all plant eaters.
Spring break started the last week of the month and town has a quiet feel as families ventured to warmer climates. The beginning of April will close the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The last week of the ski season is a fun time for locals as we ski in celebration of a great season. The hill is quiet and lines are non-existent.
Our 25th year technically begins in May. I founded the company in May 1989. Hard to believe so much time has passed. To share the natural world and meet people has been a true joy. I was recently interviewed for the business section of the Jackson Hole News and Guide- Nature Girl makes business of hiking."
I am off to Arizona to soak up some warmth and visit friends. The sun is rising and light shines in my office. It's a pleasant change as spring progresses.
What’s in the woods-
3/1- winter storm, bald eagle on Teton Village Road
3/3-Gros Ventre- bald eagles, ravens, magpies, coyote, pine grosbeak
3/12- blue bird day, coyote in Grand Teton Park
3/12- flat creek- mallards, immature Trompeter swan
3/18- Granite Canyon- blue grouse came to say hello
3/19- flat creek- young moose in creek, flock of pine siskins
3/22- Granite Canyon- moose in avalanche path
3/27- town of Jackson- cow and calf moose in backyard
3/29- spring storm with 11 inches of fresh snow
3/31- town of Jackson-catkins maturing on male aspen-a sure sign of spring!
April is a hard month to predict activities. We must be flexible. Bike paths are perfect early season options being clear and mud free. If we get freezing nights and warm days, crust touring is fun on skis whether through meadows or corn skiing in the mountains. Don't forget that winter closures are in effect until May 1 so respect them and wildlife territories. Start to carry bear spray. Have fun!