March brings change to the snowy landscape as Spring begins. The month was cold but skies were bright and blue. Increased light spurs change. By middle of the month, the southern slopes on the East and West Gros Ventre Buttes near Jackson expose vegetation. Deer flock to open food sources, rodents are more active, returning Robins find grubs where the snow has melted, and we await the return of the first osprey.
In this snowy environment, we welcome these signs of Spring! More daylight is apparent but the snow is deep in the valley. Birds return to nest. The geese arrive to frozen ponds, the hawk arrives to rest on a branch and gaze across the white valley. Will they find enough to eat or fly away in search of thinner snow and more exposed vegetation elsewhere? The flit of a Mountain Bluebird catches my eye — its iridescent blue feathers against the white snow is striking and fills me with joy. You might have to look closely, but Spring has arrived.
Weather determines the fate of the wildlife. Cold temperatures prolong the spring thaw, which wreaks havoc for deer, elk and moose. The deep snow is taxing and the animals are thin and weak. Each day adds more stress on these animals after this long, snowy winter. As patches of earth appear, wildlife will begin to migrate to summer territories.
With the change of season, animals are on the move. The first Grizzly was seen in Yellowstone on March 8. Males emerge from their winter dens first, then the females emerge with their cubs. The Grizzly death rate set records in 2018 in the northern Rockies, attributed mostly to road kill and human-related attractants, so let’s hope this season is better for the population. This is a story to continue to watch as 2019 unfolds. Read more »
Record snow was reported in the western United States this winter with February shattering records for cold and snow. Over 25 feet of snow fell in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and NOAA described the month as wild. Read more »
Flooding has already begun regionally. A dam broke in eastern Wyoming causing flash floods. Ice dams caused flooding along the Little Big Horn River in Montana and flooding could continue for days. When the ground is frozen, there is nowhere for the flowing water to go. Jackson Hole is currently at 120% of average snowfall with 496 annual inches reported at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Spring temperatures will determine the rate of snow melt. Warm days and freezing nights are ideal conditions to keep it all from melting at once.
If you live in an area with seasons, you can feel the seasonal change in light and longer days. Spring officially began on March 20 and the energetic shift was heightened by the full moon. We feel the spur of inspiration, motivation, and the desire to do. The saying “gets our blood flowing” feels accurate. Play with it. Notice how the sun and blue sky motivate you. When the clouds and coolness return, you may feel a bit more sluggish. Each day is different and all will change. Ride the pulse of Spring. As the month ends, birds chatter in the morning, ravens nest, eagles sit on eggs, and the energy mounts. Let the joys of Spring put a smile on your face.
What’s in the woods
3/2 Jackson, WY- young mule deer in town looking for something to browse
3/3 Jackson, WY- groups of ravens playing on thermals
3/9 Wilson, WY- red-winged blackbirds- yeah, a sign of spring!
3/10 Snake River- Bald Eagle soaring
3/11 Wilson, WY- cow and calf moose using snowbanks to reach willow bushes
3/12 Another bluebird day, cold mornings and warm afternoons. Temperature inversion
3/13 Warm and sunny
3/14 Geese flying over Wilson, WY- returning for summer; challenging to find flowing water with all the snow
3/17 Wilson, WY- red tail hawk lands in Aspen. Curious if surprised by all the snow?
3/18. Snow melting on buttes near town and deer flock to open ground
3/19 Fish Creek- trill of red-winged blackbirds
3/20 Corn skiing in the mountains
3/26 Ravens adding to their nest
3/27 Kelly, WY- sage grouse, moose
3/28 Jackson, WY- flocks of robins
3/29 Light snow
The inner road in Grand Teton National Park is now plowed and open to non-motorized vehicles. Enjoy the month to bike, rollerblade or walk beneath the towering snow-capped Tetons. The road will open to vehicles on May 1.
With all the valley snow, this will be a great year to “crust cruise” — skate ski atop the snow crust after the sun has gently softened the top layer of the snow. You’ll be able to ski anywhere your heart desires and ability allows — across the meadows, toward the mountains, or down by the river. Park at the Taggert Lake trailhead in Grand Teton National Park. Another great option is to bike into the Park, and skin up for Spring corn skiing in the mountains.
Happy Spring…smiles abound! See you out there!