Stories From Stanley, Idaho

Field Notes - Nip and Tuck

Field Notes - Nip and Tuck

Hello Stanley/Sawtooth lovers far and wide! I’m here to introduce you to a new, once-monthly addition to our blog called Field Notes. It will chronicle the natural world here in the Sawtooth Valley through the months and seasons because, lets face it, this place would be nothing without its mountains, waterways, flora and fauna.   Before I dive into this first post, a little bit about myself: my name is Becca and I’ve lived off and on in the Sawtooth Valley for the past three years before finally settling here for good, and I consider Stanley home. While I'm not as daring as the high-dwelling wolverine, I did once summit Mt Borah while battling a nasty cold. And while I’m not as knowledgeable of the land as the migrating pronghorn, I do pride myself in my ability to never get lost. Except for once in the middle of the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness. So maybe stretching the truth a bit on that one. I've worked as a naturalist, wilderness ranger, and wildlife technician, and have always been firm in my goals of education and conservation when it comes to the wild places of Idaho.   Thank you for being here.   So, on to Field Notes! The other day I got off work with a few hours of daylight still left. Knowing I couldn’t waste the blue skies, I threw a pack together and headed out to Nip and Tuck road. Once clipped into my skis I started down the road, enjoying the sun-softened snow and afternoon light bouncing through the Lodgepole pine. [caption id="attachment_7251" align="alignnone" width="200"] Stanley Creek out Nip and Tuck Road[/caption] When I reached the open flat, out of sight from the highway, I began skiing towards the distant hills intent on following the road that leads up to Basin Butte Lookout for a ways. As I started across the flat I noticed a tiny black dot several hundred yards ahead bounding across the snow. It disappeared and I figured that whatever it was had scampered into a hole. As I continued on, my curiosity got the best of me and I started towards the dot I had seen, hoping to find its hole, a window into the life of the under-snow dwellers. I searched around where I had last seen it then, finally giving up, began skiing back towards my original goal when I heard a surprisingly loud and terrified “EEEEEP”. Looks like I’d found the black dot!

Looking down, I found myself eye to eye with a tiny brown mouse, crouched in a divot in the snow. Her wide eyes were filled with certainty of death so I calmly snapped a picture of her and skied off a ways, giving her space to get back to her home. After a few minutes she bounded off and disappeared into a hole at the base of some willow branches.   The stark contrast of her brown fur against the white snow was obvious even at a distance. Foxes, coyotes and raptors would have no problem picking off mice if they lived above ground in the winter, but rodents adapt. Called the Subnivean Zone, or “below snow”, a gap is formed at ground level under deep snow where mice and other small animals spend winters, temperatures there warm enough to sustain life. In the spring as the snow melts have you ever noticed matted down grass or burrows, revealed as snow levels dwindle? These are the work of such animals, who survive through the winter in this intricate web of tunnels. While the keen hearing of predators can pick up movement of animals below the snow, this way of living gives prey the highest chance of survival. Seeing the tiny mouse at a distance on top of the snow, it was obvious that these little guys wouldn’t stand a chance if they had to spend long amounts of time above ground in the winter. Lucky for them, they have that figured out too!

Tunnels revealed in the spring. Photo courtesy of www.flandrumhill.wordpress.com

When looking for new food sources the animals will come above ground for a bit, which is probably what my little friend was doing. A flash of brown on the snow, then back under they go, their tiny tracks the only clue into where they disappeared.   Next time you’re snowshoeing, skiing or snowmobiling think about the world below your feet. As with many things in nature, there is far more than meets the eye. A whole world exists under our feet and if we stop and take a few moments to think about it and explore we can begin to understand the ways of unseen winter wildlife survival.

Source Url: http://stanleycc.org/field-notes-nip-tuck/



Featured Local Events

DATE: March 2 - 4, 2018

TIME: Multi-times

LOCATION: Park Creek Ski Area, Alturas Lake Ski Area, Community Building, Stanley, ID

March 3rd & 4th, 2018 — Sawtooth Ski Club 16th Annual Ski Festival

  • SATURDAY, March 3rd, Park Creek Ski Area
    Highway 21, 7 miles W. of Stanley
    11am-2pm Homemade Chili & Treats
    Poker Run!!!
    Winning hand called at 1:30 pm
  • SATURDAY EVENING 5:30-8:30pm
    Stanley Community Building
    Dinner Extravaganza
    Incredible Silent Auction, bring your checkbook!
  • SUNDAY, March 4th
    Alturas Lake Ski Area
    Highway 75, 20 miles S. of Stanley
    11am-3pm Soup Kitchen Social
    Great ski trails and a great time!!!

The Sawtooth Ski Club will host the 16th Sawtooth Ski Festival March 3rd and 4th. Come ski, play, feast, dance, shop and socialize, all while supporting Cross Country Skiing in Stanley Sawtooth Country! At 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 3rd at the Park Creek Ski Trails, homemade chili and treats will await eager participants at the annual Poker Run. Donating fun lovers ski or snowshoe a fun course, stopping at stations to collect cards and when the game is called at 1:30, whoever has collected the best poker hand wins a most excellent prize! At 5:30 Saturday evening at the Stanley Community Building, our ski club celebrity chef will present a delicious dinner and at the same time an amazing silent auction will take place. Many local businesses, arts and crafts people and friends of the club donate lovely things, wonderful services, ski and fashion accessories and deliciously fantastic items to the auction. At 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 4th at the Alturas Lake Ski Trails Soup Kitchen Social, enjoy great skiing along with with trailside soup and cookies. All events are donation based, so be sure to bring your check book or cash for the donation jars. The Sawtooth Ski Festival is our only fundraising event of the year. We depend on memberships, donations and Ski Festival proceeds to fund our efforts to provide quality groomed cross country ski trails at Park Creek and Alturas lake. Call Karen Keiski at 208-774-3487 if you wish to volunteer for any of the events or donate to the silent auction. See you at the Festival!


LINK: http://sawtoothskiclub.com/

TEL: 208-774-3487

CONTACT: David or Karen keiski@ruralnetwork.net


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