We had a guest instructor at Tracking Intensive this past weekend. Brian McConnel joined Dave Moskowitz in leading us through a day of trailing elk in the mountains just east of Snoqaulmie Pass.
There had been some lowland flooding on Friday, and more rain on the way, so starting out in the dark was a little scary. The Carnation to Fall City area seems to flood quicker than Duvall, and the web site to check King County road conditons was down. Although the rivers were up, we didn't find any road closures and crossed the pass without incident.
The Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) forest lacked the dense ground cover of ferns that I've become acustomed to here in our Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophyll) forest of the western slopes of the Cascades. I thought finding elk (Cervus canadensis) would be easy. Of course with 8 students and 2 instructors, we were not going to sneak up on anything.
We were successful in finding fresh elk tracks, and each of us had a turn in the lead as we trailed them through the woods. Along the way we found many varieties of mushrooms and fungi, including a deadly Amanitas variety that Brian pointed out to us. Some of them were beautiful, others just slimy and weird-looking.
We got close enough to elk to spook a couple of them, which some of us heard crashing through the brush, then we found the muddy tracks and scattered leaves they left to entice us! Go to my WebShots page to see more photos.