By Sarah Schrock
A moose is on the loose around the Lower Beaver Creek area. Last Friday morning, a cow moose was spotted by many residents on properties near the cemetery on Lower Beaver Creek. Moose sightings are becoming more common in the lower valley in recent years. One theory is that fire-affected landscapes change forage and habitat conditions in the high country, forcing many animals to new ground. Sightings seem to increase in the winter.
However, moose have always been present in the Loup Loup area and in fact, when skiing the South Summit or the Bear Mountain trails you are almost guaranteed to see moose prints on the groomed trails. Moose poop is unmistakable — it looks like a pile of brown marshallows, and the tracks are big and easy to spot. I am always delighted when I see the big hooves along the trail, proving that the U.S. Forest Service is fulfilling its mission of multi-use.
Animals are no dummies; they will follow a packed trail for easy and swift movement. Up the Cub Creek trail system over the weekend, my ski group saw a lot of cat tracks. While skinning up through the trees at the Loup last week, fellow patroller Michael Humling and I followed a set of cougar tracks up the mountain along the old fire road. On Wednesday up at the Top Shack on the summit of the Loup, we noticed canine prints on the deck of the shack. These could have been from a domestic dog that someone hiked up with during closed hours, but very possibly a wolf.
In any case, winter offers us a great opportunity to see tracks in the snow, and this time of year with mild dustings that keep falling, each morning a new animal tail unfolds.
There’s a playful coyote that has become a frequent visitor in our neighborhood, and he’s made some friends. He has an injured hind leg and gets around on three legs quite comfortably. He has become friends with some of the neighborhood dogs, and is reported to actually play with them. Similarly, one report told me that he played a kind of hide and seek through the safety of window with a toddler, popping up and down at the window and garnering an excited response by the child.
Over the weekend I became aware of a magnetic vortex that apparently covers much of our county and extends into the Methow Valley. Typical of the few vortices I am aware of, like the Southern Oregon Vortex and Bermuda Triangle, physical realities become distorted as the magnetic or gravitational forces are warped, and objects appear to be askew or off balance.
Unfortunately, as of late, I have been spending time in the physical therapist’s office for imbalances that run the right side of my body. I’d like to know if the vortex is blame, as they seemed to have started up around the time I moved to the Methow Valley over 10 years ago.
I have not been able to find much information on this vortex, which apparently is centered around Riverside in the Okanogan Valley. I am reaching out to my readership asking you to send me information about this magnetic anomaly that we are all living on the edge of. Maybe it will shed some interesting light on the curious and wonderful land we inhabit. Tell me your animal encounter stories, winter blunders or vortex phenomena. Mid-winter is here — I could use a good story!