Thinking about trying out snowshoeing? Last weekend I went out for the first time on Mt. Bachelor on a free guided tour. Knowledgeable volunteers take you out for a 90-minute walk in a forested area near the ski runs. The tours leave at 10:00 am and 1:30 pm. Snowshoes are provided (thanks to REI for donating them) or you can wear your own.
The volunteers will give you a quick talk on a few of the dangers associated with this sport such as tree wells. This is the area that forms in the snow close to a tree that people can fall into and sometimes not be able to get out of. I also learned that predators like to go into them in search of entrances to the burrows of small mammals. Kind of like a vending machine area for them.
This particular tour can be very popular. On the day I went, there were 33 people on the tour. They said there can be 50-60 people sometimes. They stop in several places along the way so it is not a strenuous hike.
We learned about some of the wildlife in the area. The snowshoe hare, Lepus americanus, leaves distinct tracks and one of the volunteers demonstrated how their large hind paws hit the ground before the front paws. We didn’t see a lot of wildlife on the trip but we did see common ravens, Corvus corax, Clark’s nutcracker, Nucifraga columbiana, and gray jays, Persoreus canadensis. As I have mentioned in a previous post, the jays always seem to be near me. See Jays .
The hike goes up a hill to a scenic outlook area. We were lucky to have pretty clear weather so we got a great view of some of the nearby peaks.
The volunteers also talk about some of the geology in the area and demonstrate how much water is collected after snow melts. The snowmelt here takes 10-30 years to reach the nearby river systems.
The hike is free but they suggest that you donate $5 or more to benefit the non-profit Discover Your Forest program.
This was a great experience and I will be doing more snowshoeing in the future.