Recognition should be given to all those who have gone before; family members, friends, and others that may have influenced me in their own quiet way.

Special recogition should go to my father Kenneth (Kenny to all who knew him) and my grandfathers Selby and Chester (Jake), both born in the 1890s. All of these gentlemen influenced me in their own way...with time fishing, hunting, trapping, or just time spent togeher.....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Through the Frozen Marshes

Following are a group of pictures, documenting the day of January 15, 2011. It was quite a fun and educational outing for me. I had not planned to go to this area; but because of other circumstances ended up there. It was one of the deer hunting weekends and several places I picked to go, had vehicles parked there; most likely belonging to deer hunters. I did not want to disturb their hunts or to put mys dogs at risk; so it worked out very well; allowing me to visit some low lying marsh areas.

I walked down through a wooded  border area to the low land area. I have walked around these marshes before, but never through them. You would normally be sinking in mud or wading water from a few inches deep to several feet deep. Because of the cold winter weather, I was provided the opportunity to walk through on the ice.

Walking along the edge of a shallow pond.

Shiloh running along the edge of the pond on the snow covered ice.

 I begin my walk into the marshes. This was really neat to be able to do this. My guess is that the water here would be perhaps 2 feet deep, with a very soft mud bottom.

Just a view looking back toward the pond.

These are muskrat houses. As far as I can recall, this is the first time I have been able to examine one close up. I have certainly seen them in the distance, but these in the marsh would not have been visible. The first three pictures are of the same house; with a different house following. These very likely have a chamber inside and an entrance from below the water; a smaller version of a beaver house so to speak. If you double click to enlarge, you may notice urine on the snow cover. This is probably from a coyote or fox marking it's guess being a coyote. There seem to be many more of those than foxes now.

Emma examing the first house.

As I was traversing the many small channels through the cattails, I noticed an area ahead that appeared to be flattened down; so went to investigate. What I found was an area; appx. 50 yards in diameter; the middle area mostly flattened down, and the edges all bent over....sort of teepee shapes. My guess is that this phenomenom was caused by a very large and strong whirlwind; or a very small tornado funnel. I tried to capture it with the following pictures, but it is difficult to show. It was quite impressive standing in the middle of the circle.

Just out of the marsh area on solid ground, I came across several deer beds. As you can see, their body heat has melted the snow away. These appeared to have been exited from very recently, so they had probably moved along when hearing us approaching.

Some Red Cedars, that the bucks used to rub their antlers.

Deer tracks....

Rabbit tracks..........

Rabbit tracks, deer tracks, coyote tracks, raccoon tracks..........just a major highway!

Coyote tracks...........difficult to really show.....

Last years's nest in the middle of the marsh....

It was interesting, when out of the areas covered with water, that I occasionally came across small pools of open water.....just a few inches deep...with the area all around frozen.......perhaps a spring just below the surface.

Shelf mushroom on side of small tree. I have read that these are edible, but cannot personally verify that.

Just a picture of a cattail. This was taken using the flash, to help it stand out from the background.

Heading back out to my truck, I took a shortcut over the snow covered ice.....again proably no more than a couple of feet deep at most. I would not cross directly over one of these ponds. I did go through the ice years ago when ice skating; into about 3 1/2 feet of water..........very scary..and then about a half mile skate back to the truck. The ice that day was easily 6 inches or more thick, but at the edge of a beaver pond, I crossed over an area that was just an inch or less thick, that the beavers kept thin by entering and leaving.

Back near where I parked, I walked through an old pioneer cemetery. I found this about thirty years ago; and at that time it was just hidden away in the brush, but since that time, has been somewhat cleared out. When there is no snow, there are more markers visible; many laying on the ground, and some just rocks marking graves. Some of the people buried here died in the 1830s.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Hike continued

After trying for a couple of days, the picture uploading is once again cooperating. Following are several more pictures from my hike; not all, but most of them.

Here are several pictures at the Middlefork River. I have canoed this section of the river several times and have waded it, fishing during the summer and fall. Even if it were warm enough, the river was much too high to wade on this day.  For any local folks, this is several hundred yards north of where the Johnsonville bridge was once located. The temperature on January 2 was in the mid twenties with the sun shining. I stopped along the river and just layed on the bank in the sun for a while, before starting back.

This is a shot zoomed in showing an overhanging tree with ice hanging into the water. If you look closely at the first picture or click and enlarge it, you can also see the tree.

The river had apparently been quite a bit higher, as shown by the ice deposited on the bank. Some of the chunks of ice were about 4" thick,

Emma chose a shortcut across the ice. If she could do it; so could I also walked slowly across.

A Sycamore tree on the other bank. These trees with their white bark really show up this time of year.

As mentioned in the prior post, we had heavy snow cover for a couple of weeks prior to my hike. The leaves were all flattened to the ground from the weight of the snow; and were frozen, which made uncommon walking conditions.

This shot is of the ice edge of a very small stream that runs into the river. The ice was very thin and this is showing the water below that has fallen a few inches below the ice and also across the ice surface.

Well, not all of the snow melted! Here is a small patch on the north side of this tree that was in a low lying area and protected from the sun. One of the dogs took great interest in the hollow tree......and it is probably used by some small animal as a den.

Here are couple of shots of where a buck has rubbed small trees, marking his territory.

Looking uphill at a curvy tree. My guess is that when it was a sapling, a larger tree or limb fell into it, forcing it to grow this way.

Looking back downhill at the same tree.........

A carved tree with several initials carved, expressing true love; and a commentary that you may not be able to read that says "Rex is a dog."
It was nice winter day and just about the perfect temperature for a walk. I look forward to getting out there again; and a bit of snow would make it even better.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Hike

My New Year's Hike this year was delayed one day till January 2; but close enough. For a couple of weeks prior, we had snow cover, but had an unusually warm period between Christmas and New Year that melted the snow very quickly. As a result the hike was probably a bit less strenuos, but not quite as scenic.....but always enjoyable.

I went to an area very familiar to me. I did not realize that it was muzzle loader deer season that weekend; I believe for antlerless deer. As I returned to my car, the game warden pulled in and informed me of that. We visited a bit, and he me a break, because I probably could have been ticketed for not having on a blaze orange vest.

The woods naturally are quite bare this time of year, but offer a long distance view, not there when the leaves are present.

If you go to an older post titled My Hiking Pals, you will see a version of the below picture with snow cover. One has Shiloh beneath it, and the picture below it has Emma running down the hill above it.....just a nice comparison of how snow transforms things.

Looking down the small valley I was passing through. It runs into the Middlefork River eventually.

Across the river bottom area to the woods.

As almost always, I came across the remains of several deer. The first picture below is of what little remains of a deer after the scavengers have been there. Notice the hair scattered in a large area. My thought, is that coyotes probably cause this when they grab pieces and move it away from the pack to eat it withouth sharing with their pack mates.

This is a deer leg from the same area.

And here is Emma....trotting along quite happily with the deer leg. She eventually gave up and let it drop.

This is the first time that I have found a deer carcass in this condition. What you cannot see in the picture is the large hole in it's chest; so my conclusion is that this deer was shot and the hunter was not able to find it.....and that is NOT an anti-hunting statement....just a fact that sometime the deer are not found and retrieved; but this will provide good food for the many scavengers...from coyotes, foxes, crows, buzzards, and even mice that will chew the bones.

It appears that I will need to follow up with chapter two of my I keep getting error messages when trying to upload further pictures. Stay tuned for pictures of deer rubs, river pictures, river ice, and a few others....until then..........