|"Two Toes" Right Front Paw|
I live to be outdoors. I can't imagine being further than a few footsteps out my door and stepping into the woods. I live in the heart of West Central Wisconsin, between the soaring coulees of the driftless zone and the deep forests of the north. There has always been a part of me that knows the northwoods is home, maybe from years as a kid spending time with my grandfather there hunting and fishing. There is another part that knows the steep ridges and valleys of the south west, and when I have a chance to climb those hills, hunt or ski or bike them, I take it. But I live in the middle and am fortunate to to have an outdoor world when I open the door, where I can clip into my pedals, snap a binding closed, chamber a twenty gauge shell or press a shutter. Sometimes more than one of those things come together on the same day.
A mile down the road is the 133,000 acre Clark County Forest, and further south are the Jackson County and Black River State Forests. They all provide habitat for wildthings and those of us who enjoy them. Being fortunate to live so close, I take advantage of it all. Despite a less than usual winter, my skis still have found the trail, and fat tires and snowshoes have packed snow. Since I'm in no great hurry, and that seems to be the case the older I get, I try to take in more. To notice more.
I hadn't skied two or three minutes from the trailhead when I cut across two sets of prints-one I recognized immediately. "Two Toes." I had named him a few weeks ago while skating down a trail at Levis Mound. The wolf had entered the trail from the east, and loped along marking trees as it meandered along for a mile or so on the groomed trail. Something about the track looked distorted as I skied along. Finally I stopped and took a closer look-yep, the two middle pads a front paw were missing. "Two Toes" had a name. A smaller set of tracks joined him, a female I'll assume and together they cut across several ski trails heading west. The new prints, Two Toes and his partner, seemed bolder, having entered the trail just a few hundred yards from the ski chalet. Again, they seemed content to follow the packed snow, venturing off from time to time to mark or take scent of something unknown to me. My ski workout now turned into more tracking, and I found that to be just as valuable a use of my time.
|Tracks on West Levis|
|Two Toes and Partner- Pine Run|
|Tracks in Tracks|