Sunday, 3 May 2009
Snow, ice and wolves - Part two
This, our second full day, was, in effect, a bit of a route march! We needed to cover a lot of ground - through forest and over frozen marsh. It promised to be a hard day.
We split into 2 groups with a view to meeting up in the middle and then going our separate ways again and thus covering more distance. Anyway, the guide we were with was a very tall chap with really long legs who seemed to be walking slowly until you actually tried to keep up with him! After 20 minutes we were sweating buckets which is not a good thing when the temperatures are so low. We stopped for a quick zone in and managed to get him to slow down - phew.
The first part of the route was forest where we saw plenty of tracks of elk, fox, red deer and roe deer. After our little stop we headed out onto the marsh which was even colder due mainly to windchill. It was here that a most amazing thing happened. Three of us stopped for a moment to look at something when a vole popped up out of nowhere and tried to climb up Ros' gaiter! It had a really good try for a minute or two before it decided to head off into one of its tunnels again. Fantastic stuff.
As we moved out onto higher ground we started finding more tracks again - this time, weasel, stoat, more vole and bird.
With the weasel tracks is some fresh urine. Though it is hard to see in this photo.
After a quick lunch stop we headed off again to cut across more marsh when we came across a wild boar lie up, less than 100m from where we had lunch - and it was fresh, still warm and had fresh scat. We had probably disturbed it when we stopped for a snack!
The next leg was going to be a long slog across the marsh which was very hard work and had the constant risk of falling through the ice. In many ways, not a lot of fun but a great experience nonetheless. Anyway at one point we went through a small bit of woodland and found fresh boar tracks - four of them in fact. We trailed them for quite some distance until we actually ended up coming up behind them where they were foraging. They knew we were there so ambled off after a few minutes but they did circle us for a while to maintain the wind advantage.
The boar track is a little indistinct in this photo but you can still see the shape and the dew claws (on the left).
What looks like an attack by a bulldozer is the result of a bit of wild boar action!
After that excitement we had quite a few clicks left to do through the marshy wastes. In terms of spoor it was a bit disappointing but again it was a nice sense of achievement to complete and survive! Overall we covered about 10km. That may not seem like a huge distance but through that kind of terrain and through knee-high snow in places, I can assure you, it was long enough.
Poland, tracking wolves