Spring arrives on March 20 with blue skies, rain drops, Red Tail Hawks, Great Blue Herons and a deep snowpack. Winter 2016-17 in Jackson Hole left the deepest snowpack ever in the mountains and town broke the record for total precipitation. Bottom line, this was a BIG winter. If you visited, you know this. If not, it is hard to imagine. I travelled in February and came home to shovel for 1.5 hours so my old dog and I could make it off my back deck. I live in town. Funny, how it seems like a distant past with a bit of bare earth, fifty degree days, and the drip of melting snow off the roof.
The deer in town suffered greatly as they balance where we have homes and where they want to live. During normal winters, the deer live on the buttes above town but the storms and the wind covered all the vegetation. This drove the deer to lower elevations so to our yards, to the roadways, to the creek bottom. At times, I would have eight to ten deer sleeping out my kitchen window. Watching them eat the spruce needles was tough. Can’t imagine it tasted very good. Do we live within their winter territories? Of course. Do the plowed roads, driveways and sidewalks help them move more easily? Of course. Are they prone to get hit by vehicles? Of course. Hard to say how the population faired but I currently see many herds on the hillsides seeking green grass shoots. It’s a nice sight.
Moose fancy winter. Granted they are a plant eater but they have great adaptations to survive. They have long legs, a black coat, and a great sense of smell to find bushes covered in snow. Hollow guard hairs allow oxygen to get trapped for warmth and they can splay their hooves as they walk to snowshoe in the snow. The annual winter moose count found about 100 more moose than last year. Population seems to be doing fine. Moose actually don’t like heat so suffer more during the summer.
Living here for 30 years gives me a bit of perspective. It was a BIG winter! Rendezvous Mountain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort received 32 feet of snow from December to February. Storm after storm got a bit tiring but the skiing was great!
As the month ends and spring begins, changes occur. The first grizzly tracks were seen in Yellowstone on March 15. Great Blue Herons, Ravens, Crows, Hawks, and Osprey are currently establishing territories and nesting sites. The hills above town are turning green and animals are on the move. I found a snow buttercup shining brightly in a meadow. Yeah, to the bounty of spring!
What’s in the woods
3/4-GBH! Flying over Snake River (Great Blue Heron)
3/7- trumpeter swan flying over flat creek
3/8- winter storm- 14 inches last 24 hours
3/10- confirmed bear tracks in Madison, YNP
3/12- red hawk on highway 22
3/14- robin in Wilson
3/14- over 50 degrees in town of Jackson!
3/15-robin in Wilson, WY
3/16- rain/snow mix, windy, valley snow melting
3/18- lots of geese calling in Wilson
3/20- first day of spring! Mostly cloudy, high of 42
3/23- bald eagle sitting on fence at Puzzleface ranch
3/25- crows, ravens, magpies nest building
3/30- rain in the valley, snow in the mountains
3/30- mountain bluebird on Highway 22!
April is the time to bike, roller blade or walk on the inner road in Grand Teton Park. The road is plowed and closed to vehicles until May 1. You can park at the Taggert Lake Trailhead or Signal Mountain to access the plowed road. Corn snow is also fun so watch the weather forecast for sunny days and freezing nights to start the cycle. April is a great time to travel to let the snow melt and the trails dry. I am off to Bhutan to see enjoy the Spring Rhododendron Festival. The Hole Hiking Experience closes on April 9 for a spring break. Hiking season begins May 8. Here’s to the start of spring and the change in the air!