October 21, 2008

On the Trail

Week 4 of the certification program was full of surprises. We split into two groups. On Wednesday, the other group trailed elk down in North Bend. Adriaan Louu, a South African tracker was giving a two day workshop on Wednesday and Thursday. The group that went with him trailed two elk all the way into the woods and actually spooked the mom and child from their bedding spot. The group I was in went to Bobcat Lake to harvest cattail leaves which we will use to make sitting mats and walls for shelters. On the way we saw a lot of scats left by coyote, bobcat, and bear. One pile of scat, however, was huge. The largest pile I have seen from a black bear. We also saw a lot of new plants and fungi on the trail, and harvested a good amount of cattail leaves before the rain brought us back to campus.

Day two was our turn to trail. We went up to the Skagit River Valley and started the day by playing hide and seek. Seems elementary rather than college level studies, yet it taught us so much about how to look for and follow a fresh trail. When there is grass pushed down and dew wiped from the grass, something has just moved through there. We then trailed a deer for about one mile, through sand, dirt, shrubs, and forest. We had to stop at the end of the day but all of us felt inspired to keep tracking. The following day Jase and I played hide and seek at the campus.

On Friday we learned a bit more about birds, and were introduced to some common birds in the Pacific Northwest. The Dark Eyed Juncos are some of my favorite birds. Their call sounds like two little stones being batted together. Some other birds we were introduced to were the American Robin, Winter Wren, Spotted Towhee, and Song Sparrow.

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