Scary Skin Track Moments

Whether it is whumps in the snowpack, unpredictable moose, or slick and icy spots, there can be some pretty darn scary moments when you are out on the skin track. How about this one? When what appears to be an untouched track of fresh snow…suddenly explodes into a ball of feathers and flapping wings as a sage-grouse is roused from its slumber under the snow. Those things can sometimes really scare the shit out of you when you are in the zone, breaking trail and plodding along on the skin track. Freaking birds!

13 Comments

13 Responses to “Scary Skin Track Moments”


  1. 1 Carl Feb 27th, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I’ve crapped my pants before when skinning past these birds! Hilarious.

  2. 2 BNK Feb 27th, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Just wondering if you include times like this in your stability evaluation. Seems like the further away you are when the birds take off the touchier the snow is.

  3. 3 DTB Feb 27th, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I had the same thing happen while skiing down some quiet glades on 25 Short. I had to stop because I nearly had a heart attack!

  4. 4 randosteve Feb 27th, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    bnk…that is a good one. this sage chicken didn’t get spooked until i was right on him. guess that means wimpys is a green light! :)

  5. 5 Skian Feb 27th, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    That is frickin hilarious, Have to remember that in Jackson when I leave the trailhead.

  6. 6 chris Feb 27th, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    those birds make me jump every time.

  7. 7 OMR Feb 27th, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    A favorite hill is loaded with those birds. The other day four exploded on me in less than a half mile of skinning. At least lapins take off well before you’re stepping on them. I’ve always wondered, do Ptarmigan just sit during a storm and let the snowfall bury them? I’ve never seen signs of tunnelling.

  8. 8 randosteve Feb 28th, 2012 at 7:01 am

    OMR….good question. seems like they burrow into the snow by diving in from the air…and then the hole gets covered by fresh snow.

    check this out…

    http://idahonaturenotes.blogspot.com/2010/11/winter-wildlife-chronicles-grouse.html

  9. 9 Rad Dog Feb 28th, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I had this happen to me once when skining to plumer yurt.

    We were skinning in to Plummer yurt, after a long pow day at the vill, trying to catch the rest of our group that broke trail during the day. There was fresh snow on the skin take we had head lamps on and moving at a good pace. then in the fresh snow i saw Mt. lion tracks. VERY FRESH!!! walking up and down the skin track and all around in the Very fresh snow. My hart stated pumping hard and i stated skinning faster and pulling away from my one skinning partner.

    Then i planted my uphill pole in the snow to the right of the skin track and a grouse, or some kind of bird, flew out of the snow and hit me in the leg. i had know idea what had happen. almost give me a heart attack at 27.

    i trip i will never forget!!!

  10. 10 BNK Feb 28th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    One good swing with the whippet and you can have the green light special and lunch.

  11. 11 Cynic Al Feb 28th, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Gotta chime in here to correct species misidentification. Sage Grouse winter in the valleys and do not bury themselves in snow. Ptarmigan are not found in Wyoming, these birds are found in the high alpine in Colorado and New Mexico, all white in winter. The birds we flush out of the snow here in Wyoming and in neighboring areas of Wyoming and Montana are ruff and blue grouse.
    Sorry for the pedantry.
    Truly an adrenaline jolt when you ski into a covey on the descent.

  12. 12 randosteve Feb 29th, 2012 at 9:23 am

    no problem cynic…i kinda knew they weren’t technically sage grouse, but didn’t want to spend too much time researching. thanks.

  13. 13 beverly boynton Mar 1st, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    great clarification cynic al. i was just about to post the same set of comments. as an aside, sage grouse are never far from sage sticking up through the snow pack–except, driving in to taggert lake parking lot a couple days ago, there was a sage grouse on west side of road just before windy point. definitely a sage grouse, and definitely out of habitat.

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