Surprise – this post isn’t about food, nutrition, recipes, or gluten-free living. But it is about health and well-being. Skiing, hiking, climbing, and wandering the backcountry are just as nourishing to me as a warm bowl of homemade soup. The solitude, peace, and beauty of the wilderness energizes my spirit and calms my soul. I’m a gemini, so you can look at this blog as dual-natured and a bit contradictory. Gluten-free Betty Crocker meets wilderness woman.
Those of you searching for a nice gluten-free bread recipe might want to skip the rest of this post and go directly to my archives file. Or, sit back and enjoy a little glimpse of winter in Colorado’s high country. To get a perspective on this post, refer to my “high country hello and tracking contest” post from last week.
So, what do you guys think? Here is my original photo again, followed by animal tracking information from the Colorado Division of Wildlife. If you’re wondering how this connects to gluten-free living, none of these animals eat wheat, barley, or rye. Not naturally anyway. I’m referring to a species-spanning version of the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon rule to tie this into gluten-free food. Yeah, I know – it’s a leap.
The question was – What little critter made these tracks? Comment suggestions were snowshoe hare, cotton tail rabbit, or pine marten.
Check out my ski pole grip compared to the tracks. The tracks were small and went from the base of one pine tree to the base of another, which most likely indicates a squirrel, although it could have been a pine marten.
The illustration below shows the tracks left by a snowshoe hare, running through the snow. According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, mice, rabbits, hares, and squirrels are hoppers, meaning they over-step their front feet with their back feet (think leapfrog), leaving distinct front and rear foot tracks. The back feet are often much larger than the front feet (see below). Although cottontail rabbits and showshoe hare tracks are quite common in the Colorado mountains in winter, the photo I took was not of rabbit or hare tracks since the foot sizes from front to back were so similar. Hares have much larger back feet (6 inches or more). Mice tracks (also hoppers) are often accompanied by a drag line down the middle, left by the tail.
The tracks shown below are from a pine marten. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but they do look a lot like the photo I took. The thing I question is the distance between the front and back tracks. My photo shows them closer together. Pine martens and short-tailed weasels (also called ermine) are bounders.
My guess is that the little guy (or girl) was a squirrel, possibly an Abert or pine squirrel, but since I’m not absolutely sure, the closest (and maybe correct) answer is pine marten and that would be Janine’s behind-the-scenes husband’s answer (say that fast 3 times).
* Janine, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a prize, small as it may be.
So, the moral to this story is – we can find nourishment in many different ways, so get outside and enjoy the fresh air and vibrancy of nature. Yum!
In good health,