Posted on 11 Comments

Winter Snowshoe Hike – Jays, Tracks, and Weeds

Winter Snow and Weeds
Tahoe National Forest – California

When I posted on Facebook yesterday that we were going to head out to snowshoe, the weather forecast said something like “partly cloudy, high of 52 degrees, and 10% chance of precipitation”. Sounded good to me. Well no one told us that between our house and our hiking spot that there was going to be dense fog, drizzle, and the temperatures were falling into the 30’s.

I knew Mr. B was anxious to test out his new snowshoes so I didn’t want to disappoint him and we kept going up over the mountain. Once over the mountain it cleared up and we had lots of clouds but no rain.

Tracks in the snow
Needless to say, we kept our eyes on the sky, checking for signs we were going to get rained or snowed. We had the snow to ourselves, not counting the many animal tracks that were visible. So many tracks going so many directions…there must be a whole forest full of animals out there.

Stellers Jay in the bushes
Isn’t this a surprising sight of brilliant blue on this winter day? Steller’s jays are common and this one was posing for my camera. I love the blue feathers on the nose. My field guide says that these jays are “inquisitive, intelligent, and noisy”. Yep, that totally describes this bird.

Stellers Jay flying
We couldn’t resist seeing if we could lure the jay closer and Mr. B had a pocket full of pretzels. One little bit of pretzel and that Steller’s jay came swooping down for a tasty treat, making his shook-shook-shook sound as he flew.

Snowshoe Taylor Creek
We had to go the long way around since the beavers have now completely dammed up the water in the creek and the resulting pond has spread over the normal trail. This is where we saw the salmon spawning last fall and the mama bear with cubs. No signs of them now, although it smells rather fishy around this bend in the creek from all the dead fish remains.

Taylor Creek with snow and tracks
We hiked along the creek a little way and we noticed that there are places where the creek mud is piled up onto the banks. We could see lots of little animal tracks around the mud but I’m still not sure what kind of animal did this and what they were doing. Winter hikes can lead to lots of questions. You can see the muddy sludge…it is the black stuff there along the edge.

Aspens in the Snow
I never get tired of looking at the landscape here at Taylor Creek. The patterns of the tree trunks against the Sierra sky in the winter is amazing and beautiful. Some people get to look out their living room windows and view a similar scene and I wonder if they stop seeing the awesomeness of it. I come here a dozen times a year and I never tire of this place.

Snowshoe tracks
When you are on snowshoes, you can follow tracks as much as you want but I am always a little afraid of getting out into the forest too far….I have a terrible sense of direction. This area is easy to navigate because I can hear the highway in the distance and I generally know which direction I need to head to get back to the trailhead. Here is an example of a nice clear print in the snow.

Winter Weeds
We did a little preliminary winter weed study while we were out traipsing around the woods. There were plenty of subjects even with snow on the ground. I just liked the way this one looked. I think it is a corn lily. Next week we plan on doing a whole winter weed study so we will revisit these images then.
Winter Snoeshoe Hike
So our first real snowshoe of the year is over and we didn’t get rained or snowed on. We were bundled up warmly so it was really a delight to be outdoors exploring just the two of us. Mr. B decided his snowshoes were perfect and now we will be able to explore the woods in winter as part of our Outdoor Hour Challenges.

You can read more about hiking in winter on my Squidoo page for tips on how to make it fun:
Winter Nature Walks

11 thoughts on “Winter Snowshoe Hike – Jays, Tracks, and Weeds

  1. Beautiful! Our Rec Center now has snow shoes to borrow so we’re going to try it out after the next snow storm. (Believe it or not, here in Maine we don’t have a lot of snow on the ground!!) My daughter and I have been walking through the woods, searching for tracks. It’s fun! And that Jay is GORGEOUS!

  2. Wonderful. What an adventure! A beaver dam redirecting you, beautiful jays and scenery, tracks – all because you were making tracks together. Loved it.

  3. Your blog truly inspires me. I have been reading it for a long time & really love it. Thanks for all of your amazing pictures & ideas. I recently started a homeschool blog roll on my blog & would love to have you link yours up. Thanks!

  4. My daughter was fascinated with animal tracks this week. We didn’t find them in snow, but luckily we had an overnight rain early in the week which was enough to leave the ground very soft and printable : )

    Can’t wait to see your study on winter weeds!

  5. You live in such a beautiful area! Wish we has stellar jays around here – they are gorgeous. Great captures!

  6. What a beautiful place for exploring. I love the picture of the Stella Jay in flight.

  7. Wow! Speechless. I love the pictures of the Steller’s. Yet, they are all wonderful!!

  8. I loved reading this post and seeing the pictures. This is the stuff of daydreams for those of us who have lived our whole lives in the South.

    The Stellar’s Jay is absolutely gorgeous!

  9. Looks like a wonderful walk with interesting finds along the way. The Steller Jay is amazing. The colors are so vivid and brilliant. What a beautiful bird!

  10. Barbara, I love reading your “travelogs” of your hikes…

    FYI — I get turned around in the woods, too. I discovered that my cell phone app that I use as a GPS in the car, Google Navigator, has an option for walking directions, as well as driving directions. I find this very helpful when navigating the hiking trails in Connecticut.

    Try that next time you’re hiking!

    Be blessed.


  11. The jay is just beautiful. Of course, our jays in the East (South) are different — equally as beautiful, of course. Now that I have finally learned how to stay warm in the winter (smart wool themrals, for example) I don’t fear the cold as much as I always did. I can actually enjoy a winter walk. Besides, you warm up nicely when you are moving.

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