This report is provided by Cathy Shill, owner of The Hole Hiking Experience.
February brought continuous moisture. We have had stormy weather over the last 28 days. Total snowfall near the top of the ski resort- 9,580 feet- is 347 inches and snow depth is 116 inches or about 9.5 feet. During intense storms, avalanche forecasters have issued warnings against mountain travel since the moisture continues to load a snowpack with persistent weak layers and poor structure. Wow.
Warmer temperatures brought a rain/snow mix in parts of the valley. Walking in town is treacherous as frozen sidewalks become deep puddles. You skate and then you swim. We have had moments of sun but not for an entire day.
With the stormy weather, animals hunker down. Winter is about balance, to balance energy, exertion and the reward. If you are a plant eater, an herbivore, nutrition in your diet is limited since plants are mainly dormant. Animals minimize movement when snow is deep and heavy. March and April can be vulnerable months for herbivores since they are lean after a long, snowy winter. Winter is truly the season for predators since their prey becomes weak and limited in movement.
We continue to tour throughout the area. We choose tour locations based on weather, travel and what we have been seeing in the great outdoors. It has been amazing to witness the changes in snow depth. As you travel north into Grand Teton Park the snowbanks are over 6 feet.
Approximately 8000 elk have been counted on the National Elk Refuge. It is located outside of Jackson and elk can freely move through the area. This is 1700 more elk on the refuge this winter then last. The increase could be due to the stormy weather or an increase in population. Hard to say but herd size is monitored and counted each season. Population size will affect hunting regulations this fall.
March means more light and changes as spring returns. I have seen a glimpse with Robins returning to town and the call of the Red-winged Blackbird along Flat Creek. Sun and more light will be a pleasant change. All this snow will help the summer flowers making this stormy month a blessing.
What’s in the woods-
2/1- winter storm
2/4- cold, frigid temperatures
2/7- highway 22- rough-legged hawks
2/8-2/9- winter storm with two new feet of snow in the mountains
2/9-Flat Creek- American dipper, black-capped chickadees
2/10- bluebird day
2/13- 2/16- storm
2/14-Granite Canyon- pine grosbeaks
2/19- Teton Village- cow moose
2/20- Jackson- black-capped and mountain chickadees along flat creek
2/25- rain in valley
2/25- Jackson- robins
2/26-Flat Creek- red-winged blackbirds, chickadees, magpies, mallards, goldeneye
With a stormy month, it’s best to stay closer to town to recreate. Risking travel on roadways can be stressful and needless. Near town, you can tour in Cache Creek which I mentioned in the November 2013 news. Game Creek is also a good option south of town. Drive south on Highway 89/191 for approximately 6.0 miles and you will see the signed Game Creek Road on your left. Continue to the parking area which is where the road bears a hard right and starts to steeply climb. Be careful if avalanche danger is high since it has steep canyon walls. Granite Canyon and the Moose- Wilson Road are good options near Teton Village. To access this area, drive north of the village, enter Grand Teton Park and continue until the road ends. Checking out http://www.wyoroad.info/ is always a good idea when it is stormy. Have fun and be safe.