Written By Kris Brown.

Posted on April 29th, 2021.

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Who doesn’t get excited for spring, especially in the north country? When I finally emerged from winter torpor, I started woods hiking like it was my job. Along the way, I came across several harbingers of spring, as well as some decidedly random woods finds.

I holed up in the warmth of the living room for much of February and March 2021. Lesson learned to pick up a pair of snowshoes for next winter. But at the first sign of spring, I was off like a rocket to the woods in search of fresh air, perspiration, and some inspiration. This blog post is about what I saw in the woods when I came out of torpor. \

My wife Jess and I spent one Saturday morning hiking up Bald Mountain, located near Stamford, NY, to the old ski lift of the former Scotch Valley Ski Area. To learn more about this hike, click here.

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We saw some ash trees growing up through old farming equipment… amazing!

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We enjoyed the view from the old ski lift.

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On the way back down, we heard a commotion that sounded to me like turkeys being harassed by some sort of predator. We scrambled down the hill to find a vernal pool, but there were no turkeys in sight.

Of course! The noises we heard were from amphibians! I’m being rather vague here because we didn’t actually see what was making the ruckus. The animals hushed up and hid as we approached. I’m guessing the noisemakers were wood frogs. Do spotted salamanders make loud sounds? I will have to come back here next year for the great amphibian migration, called Big Night.

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On another weekend, I did some deer scouting. Not far into the woods, I found a drone crash site. While woods garbage is not great, it is neat to find today’s technology mixed in with older artifacts like pull tab beer cans.

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I walked the edge of an abandoned agricultural field and noticed some encroaching aspen saplings, many of which had buck rubs on them.

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I followed a headwater stream to the back of the property, where I found a well-used game trail. Is that a bear track I see?

Upon further inspection, I think it was the heel of a boot track. Was I tracking myself?

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On my way back to the truck, I spotted a vernal pool with some egg masses interspersed in the algae.

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On another deer scouting session, I found my first red eft of the year. A red eft is a young Eastern (Red-Spotted) newt.

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I came across several ramp (wild leek) patches, both big and small. I plucked a few leaves to munch on. Mmm, so garlicky!

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I even found a bit of what I was really after, which was deer sign. Look closely at the picture below and you can almost see the deer outline, as well as some white belly hairs. Don’t be surprised if you find lots of deer hair in the woods in April. The deer are shedding their winter coats.

It feels good to be getting outside regularly again. I hope this spring has been good to you. Thanks for reading.

 


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