Montana Outdoors

December 10, 2014

Seeking Bigfoot

Filed under: Winter — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 10:06 pm

It was supposed get up to 51º and rain today. Instead, there were intermittent clouds and fog and the temperature was around 30º . So, a fairly good day to go out looking for Snowshoe rabbits (AKA Snowshoe hare, AKA Varying hare). The “snowshoe” part of the name (and the “Bigfoot” reference) comes from their oversized hind feet which enable them to easily stay on top of the snow and help them outrun their predators.

(The hat does not belong to the rabbit, it’s mine, just there for perspective). The large prints are from the rear feet, the small ones from the front ones. The track shows that this one was headed to the left in the photo. When they jump, the front feet come down first, then the big rear ones which start the jump cycle over again. The space between tracks like this set can be over 8 feet when the rabbit is running full out.

Snowshoe track

There is a place quite close to home where I know there are lots of these rabbits, but it’s a mile up this road, then another mile up an offshoot of it. The traffic on the road has packed down the snow and the melt and freeze cycles have changed the tracks to pure ice about 3 inches thick, not especially fun to drive on even with 4WD, and being to lazy to chain up the Jeep I chose to walk.

Weeksville road

Weeksville road

Untitled

Though I could find no rabbits, the hike was embellished with some pretty fog scenes and turned into an enjoyable outing.

Foggy day

Sun peeking through the fog

Untitled

The secret for hiking 4 miles on ice in comfort and security? Yaktrax. In winter, don’t go hiking without them. (Not an advertisement, but a pretty good recommendation.)

Untitled

Untitled

Advertisements

50 Comments »

  1. I’m not likely to walk on snow or ice for a long time given we have an Australian summer at the moment but those Yaktrax looks really handy! I haven’t heard of any friends using them here when they go to alpine regions so I must ask them. I love all these snowy pics and the information! Thank you! I’m currently sitting in a library sheltering from an approaching hail storm. We’ll get ice but not in the same way as you! 🙂

    Like

    Comment by Jane — December 10, 2014 @ 10:19 pm

    • The Yaktrax have a special pouch that always goes into my pack in winter. They make a huge difference and only weigh a few ounces.
      Come to think of it, we didn’t have a single hail storm here last summer.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2014 @ 11:17 pm

  2. We learned about Yaktrax while in California, They are amazing!

    Like

    Comment by Mother Hen — December 10, 2014 @ 10:32 pm

    • Great photos but especially like the one with the light shinning through the tree..

      Like

      Comment by Mother Hen — December 10, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

      • That blaze of light was interesting. It came from a very small opening in the clouds and then through a small clearing in the forest canopy. At first I didn’t especially like the photo, but then that’s just what the scene looked like.

        Like

        Comment by montucky — December 10, 2014 @ 11:18 pm

  3. Strange weather. But the fog makes for nice photos!

    Like

    Comment by Gallatin Natural Resources — December 10, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

    • It does. It’s not always friendly if you aren’t prepared for it, but I really enjoy being outdoors in it and always carry a map and a compass if I have to navigate in it in an emergency.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 10, 2014 @ 11:20 pm

  4. What a good idea about the YakTrax.

    Like

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — December 11, 2014 @ 12:21 am

    • In most places they run about $30 and that’s very reasonable for what they do for you. I’ve been using them for about 6 years and under some very difficult conditions.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2014 @ 12:47 am

  5. Those Yaktrax look like a great idea. I’ve never heard of them before. I assume we have them in Australia and it’s just that I haven’t been up in the snow or alpine regions for many years so am not up to date with the latest gear.
    Love the foggy photos – looks very atmospheric and moody, (if a little cold). Looks like a nice walk and like you, I would rather walk that road instead of driving.

    Can’t believe the size of those hare tracks !

    Like

    Comment by Vicki — December 11, 2014 @ 4:17 am

    • Sliding off that road would not be good! I will drive further on it to get our Christmas tree in a few days, but there will be another vehicle along in case either of us has a problem.

      Sooner or later I will catch up with one of those rabbits and get some pictures. They are beautiful in winter, all white except for a little black on their ears. Their summer wardrobe is equally attractive, especially when it grows in in late spring.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

  6. What a gorgeous area! Thank you for the advice. The pictures, as always, are fantastic, by the way 🙂

    Like

    Comment by Lucy — December 11, 2014 @ 5:48 am

    • Thanks Lucy. Those Yaktrax let me enjoy icy areas that otherwise would be difficult or dangerous.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

  7. That’s a beautiful road to hike on, and so are your photos of it. I agree, Yaktrax have saved me more than once and I don’t go anywhere without them in winter. I need new ones though because a couple of the coils have let go.
    I had no idea that snowshoe hares could jump 8 feet. That’s pretty amazing!

    Like

    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — December 11, 2014 @ 6:28 am

    • I’ve used the trax for 5 or 6 years now, and they still sell for about what I paid for them back then.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2014 @ 7:50 pm

  8. As a pet sitter and dog walker in winter, Yaktrax are my best winter friends!! Lovely photos.

    Like

    Comment by derrycats — December 11, 2014 @ 7:12 am

  9. Looks great out there, beautiful snowy pictures

    Like

    Comment by Mike Howe — December 11, 2014 @ 8:15 am

    • It will get even prettier when the snow gets deep. I’m anxious for that time to get here!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2014 @ 7:51 pm

  10. I’m going to have to mention those Yaktrax to my daughter and son-in-law, although they may already know about them. They hike quite a bit and are doing a 42-mile trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro soon. The shots you got on this trip were fantastic. I didn’t realize those rabbits had such big feet!

    Like

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — December 11, 2014 @ 8:24 am

    • Their feet are so big that despite their weight they hardly sink into deep snow.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2014 @ 7:52 pm

  11. Yaktrax…….I learn something new often here! Glad you have something to help you enjoy the outings, not just endure it! Enjoyed the fog photos and the fog through the trees is wonderful. Keep your eyes open for bigfoot! hugs

    Like

    Comment by Anonymous — December 11, 2014 @ 8:30 am

    • If the real bigfoot hangs around here I hope I’ll meet him some day. I love both the fog and the trees and together they are wonderful!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2014 @ 7:53 pm

  12. Love the pictures – and the big foot print – 8 feet is impressive. I don’t do jumping and not likely to need Yaktrax. But glad you and the rabbit are out there.

    Like

    Comment by Lynn Millar — December 11, 2014 @ 10:43 am

    • Those big jumps and fast speed over the snow is what keeps them alive, although I think the Lynx can still catch them on the snow.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

  13. You spoiled it by saying the hat doesn’t belong to the rabbit. I thought it was the latest in hare wear.

    Like

    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — December 11, 2014 @ 11:40 am

  14. Gorgeous photos! Especially the sunlight streaming through the trees. Those Yaktrax look a great idea! We have just had our first snowfall over the last few days – slushy but persistent!

    Like

    Comment by Jo Woolf — December 11, 2014 @ 2:08 pm

    • There’s always a pretty scene when fog is present, isn’t there! This was snow from about a week ago. We’re getting a little rain now, but by Christmas I’m betting that everything will be white again.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2014 @ 8:01 pm

  15. Bigfoot mystery solved in Montana! 🙂

    Like

    Comment by Watching Seasons — December 11, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

    • Yep. And still some folks say there isn’t a bigfoot!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 11, 2014 @ 8:02 pm

  16. I have something similar to your Yaktrax, but I haven’t been able to use them for the past three years. My new home has a reputation for having lots of snow, but we’ve had almost none since I’ve been here. Mine used to work really well on icy nature trails.

    Like

    Comment by Ratty — December 12, 2014 @ 1:47 am

    • Maybe you will get a good amount of snow this year. We had some deep snows last winter, but I was laid up with knee surgery and couldn’t get out to enjoy it. I’m hoping for more good snow this winter!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 12, 2014 @ 10:08 am

  17. I began wondering how far our jackrabbits can jump (answer: 22 feet) and that led me to a great page about your Montana rabbits and hares. After reading it, I’m filled with admiration for all of your hares. Not only are they fast and strong, they’re a whole lot cuter than that other Bigfoot!

    Like

    Comment by shoreacres — December 12, 2014 @ 8:06 am

    • The present that I received for my tenth birthday was a Remington .22 rifle. My Dad thoroughly trained me in its use and care and the winter of that year we started hunting snowshoe rabbits. I still love to see them today but no longer hunt them. This summer I saw at least a hundred of them: they are having a good year. I still hope to get some photos of them in winter which is a very difficult task.

      My parents lived in Missoula Montana during the depression, and I remember my Dad saying that during those hard times, rabbits, the snowshoe, the cottontail and the jackrabbit kept many families from starving. Even with all of the hunting pressure during that time, they are still plentiful today.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 12, 2014 @ 10:21 am

  18. Hi Montucky, I especially liked the picture of the fog with sunbeams. Beautiful. Glad you wear the tracks on your boots to keep you upright. I have slipped on icy house steps so I can say that having the extra traction does help a lot to prevent falls. Have a great weekend!

    Like

    Comment by wildlifewatcher — December 13, 2014 @ 9:21 am

    • Thanks you! I nearly deleted that photo but kept it because, after all, that’s what the world looked like at that moment.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 15, 2014 @ 10:38 pm

  19. Wow, they are really big rabbits ! I hope you can photograph one someday and post it here, I’ve never seen one.
    I loved the photos of the fog, the second one with the rays is stunning !

    Like

    Comment by Jocelyne — December 13, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

    • I will keep trying for a snowshoe photo. I read somewhere the other day that a person has about a 2% chance of seeing one if it is within 50 feet. They really blend in. When I was a kid though I had a lot of success hunting them.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 15, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

  20. Wow, those snowshoe rabbits must be bigger than jackalopes 🙂 Great fog photos!

    Like

    Comment by Candace — December 13, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

    • They are smaller than your antelope jackrabbits and more elusive than the jackalopes.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 15, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

  21. i like yak trax too, though i haven’t used them in a long time
    we have ice building up here too

    lovely photos and thank you for explaining the way of the rabbit

    Like

    Comment by Tammie — December 16, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

    • The ice is still on the roads in the canyons where it’s always shaded, but the ice in the valley here is gone now. I guess we’re due for some colder weather but I wonder if we’ll have snow for Christmas this year. I remember one year when I was a kid we had no snow until Christmas eve when we got 4 inches. All of the little kids were so worried!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 16, 2014 @ 8:19 pm

  22. First, I love Your snowy road photos. Second, YakTrax is nice figment. In Finland we have similar just to walk on slippery roads and on frozen lakes before the ice is covered by snow. Great post Terry.

    Like

    Comment by Sartenada — December 18, 2014 @ 3:02 am

    • I thought there would be something similar in your country too. They sure make being outdoors in winter safer and more pleasant!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 18, 2014 @ 8:23 pm

  23. That photo of sunlight through the trees is gorgeous. Wow. And those road photos enticing.

    Like

    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — December 18, 2014 @ 5:41 pm

    • It is beautiful in the forests just about any time, isn’t it! I guess I’m just a very simple soul, but I would rather be out there enjoying all of that than anything else I know of.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 18, 2014 @ 8:25 pm

  24. A very strange Fall and Winter so far, hardly any snow and too mild temperatures for the Season. I also got some sort of Yaktrak for myself for walking on icy mountain paths, I feel more secure. I love your pictures with this blending of snow and colorful vegetation.

    Like

    Comment by isathreadsoflife — December 19, 2014 @ 11:44 pm

    • It has been strange here too. I understand it will change here in the next few days with a foot of snow expected on the passes tonight.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 20, 2014 @ 12:04 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: