Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Great Outdoors is Calling

TrailsFest serves up a jam-packed day of outdoor adventure.

Event details:
TrailsFest 2008
Saturday, July 19, 9am – 4pm
Rattlesnake Lake, North Bend

This outdoor extravaganza features clinics on everything from wilderness first aid to hiking with kids to backcountry cooking. Take a guided hike, tie a fly on, or climb a rock wall. Try out a new s’mores recipe, or hang out with packgoats. Visit the GBOP booth and say "hi", or the dozens of exhibitors, including gear companies and outdoor groups. I will be giving a "Living with Bears" talk at 2:00 at the Cedar Watershed Education Center. It's all at TrailsFest!

Been wanting to explore the North Cascades? Attend a clinic with Craig Romano, author of Day Hiking – North Cascades published by Mountaineers Books. Learn how to whip up a tasty backcountry meal in no time from the author of Freezer Bag Cooking. Want to be a responsible hiker with your dog? Check out the clinic on hiking with dogs and trail etiquette. Wanting to try backpacking? Go to Hilleberg the Tentmaker’s clinic on smart packing and learn how to take less, still be comfortable and safe, and have lots more fun!

TrailsFest is presented every summer by Washington Trails Association. Sponsors for TrailsFest 2008 include Hilleberg the Tentmaker, KPLU, Green Trails Maps, REI, CLIF Nectar, Outdoor Research, Gregory, Chaco, Teko, Helly Hansen, Erin Baker's Wholesome Baked Goods, Freezer Bag Cooking, and Marmot Mountain Works.

TrailsFest is your passport to the great outdoors this summer, and admission is free!

To get to TrailsFest, take I-90 to exit 32, then turn right on 436th Ave SE. Follow this road 2.7 miles to Rattlesnake Lake.

Julie L. (Hayes) Hopkins - GBOP field organizer

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Are you "On Track"?

One of the best ways to tell the difference between a grizzly and a black bear is to analyze a track. Grizzly tracks denote long claws and have a flat pad. The pad of a black bear is predominately curved. Detailed track ID tips can be found at the GBOP website.

These photos of a grizzly track were taken by Scott Fisher, Washington DNR, in the Pend Oreille area of eastern Washington. The first photo is a front track and the second photo is a rear track.

This photo of a black bear track was taken near Loup Loup Pass in Okanogan County.

Alas, a good track is not what you always get. Many times it is a partial track or the features of the track are distorted by the terrain. To be so heavy, bears can tread very lightly.

The above photo was sent to us as a possible grizzly track. It was passed around and the responses were quite interesting. No supporting information other than the photo was given to those responding. Judge for yourself:

“It strikes me as a black bear that is turning to its left dragging claw marks in the mud. I think I see the same holes just ahead of the toe pads that may have been the claw marks when the foot was first planted. Those marks appear to be only about 0.75 inch out from the toe. The pad width appears to be no more than 4 inches and this would suggest, if grizzly, a bear that is 2 years old or less and at least somewhat likely to be accompanied by a mother or siblings. All considered, it appears to be a black bear.” - US Fish and Wildlife Service

“Definitely a challenge. Tough to say where the bottom of the outside toe starts, which affects the line test. Also, I'm thinking the three longer claw marks may be a result of those claws being dragged, rather than the actual claw impressions. If so, then the actual claw marks are more consistent with black bear.” – Washington Dept Fish & Wildlife

“It suggests a black bear walking in slickey muck. The overall arc of the paw & toes supports this, as does the line test (allowing for slippage & sometimes toes aren't all over or all under the line). The claws most likely show up because it's in oozy goo, and the bear dragged its foot a little as it walked on. One can see the results of that on all 5 toes.” – National Park Service

“Tracking is something I can talk about, as a life-long tracker, and I agree that it is a black bear. The track has a counter-clockwise rotational torque on the foot caused by a slick surface.” - US Fish and Wildlife Service

To properly analyze a track many experts will carefully photo the track, then draw a picture and carefully measure all dimensions of the track. For a permanent record, a plaster casting can be made.