Snowshoe Adventures

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is known for long snowy winters perfect for winter sports. In years past the ski runs and snowshoe trails are snowy and ready for grooming by November.  This year everyone anxiously waited for snow all holiday season. We didn’t get good snow until January!

With the few feet of snow we got, everyone strapped on their skis and snowshoes and got to the trails as soon as possible. I went out with my supervisor, Susan Kranz, to snowshoe at Galena on her weekly Snowshoe with a Ranger program. Susan has been out on a detail, so this was the first program of hers I got to see. She focused the tour on the History of the Galena mines and lodge, winter ecology, and animal tracking.

Galena has a long history of boom and bust, like many other mining areas. The prospect of mining galena, the name given to a mix of silver and lead ore, brought in hundreds of young men. From 1879 hundreds of young men flooded Galena, establishing mining camps and soon a bustling little community. After 1890 however, the townsite was already a ghost town. Soon after, in 1905, The Sawtooth National Forest came into existence, turning the once ghost town into a cross-country skiing mecca.

In addition to history, I got to brush up on my winter tracking skills. I was so excited to see my first snowshoe hare tracks of the season! Their large hind feet make easily recognizable tracks in the snow. You can tell which direction the hare was hopping by where their hind feet are. The hind feet will be in the front of their smaller fore feet. We also saw tiny tree squirrel tracks and ermine tracks too! Back at the bunkhouse I saw little raccoon tracks I thought were too cute not to share. Since we don’t get too much snow back in Jersey, I’ve been having so much fun finding and identifying tracks. I’m looking forward to spotting winter tracks for the rest of my time here at the SNRA.

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