In case you thought I was alone

Yesterday the weather changed abruptly. A storm of snow, freezing rain and rain (in that order) blew up from the south and after a tumultuous afternoon and night today the temperature is above zero and I think every single animal around here got the same message. “Go for a walk you moron, it won’t last”. It’s like a gift designed to make sure that you keep believing in spring. Today on my hike my hands didn’t freeze the second I took my mittens off and I even experienced the briefest moment of temptation where I considered taking off my hat. The snow on the top of the ice out there is melting, which means that if I’m very lucky, tomorrow when it snaps back to freezing again the river will be glassy and smooth, and I may see some iceboats.


I was back to hiking the woods this afternoon, and I think every other animal around here was doing the same thing. Crows heckled me from the trees, I even saw an eagle soaring on the warm windy air. I saw a snowshoe hare (by the way? BIG BUNNY) and came pretty close to a big deer who (although I could not see the parts in question to confirm this) had to have been a buck. He stared me down, turned his whole body to face me and stomped his feet. There are no records of people being killed by deer, so I didn’t retreat out of fear, but respect. He’s a full time resident. I’m just visiting. Clearly, these are his woods. The delicate hoofprints of the deer are everywhere, sprinkled like confetti,


and there’s other stuff too. This track is deer like, but made by something larger and heavier by comparison, and that only leaves moose I think.


Or these ones, which after careful consultation with Hinterland Who’s Who. (If you’re Canadian, you just had a flashback) looks like it’s the snowshoe hare.


These ones, I have no idea about. None. I’m wondering if it’s my friend the bobcat? I bet one of you guys knows for sure.


Check this last one out. It looks to me like the strangest track, so I’m wondering if it’s a compound track (two body parts? Maybe something sat down?)


I’m hoping it’s a compound track, because dudes, a footprint bigger than my hand? That’s a track big enough to keep this knitter out of the woods. Tomorrow, knitting.


I promise. I know this week has been a little light on the wool content, but it’s hard to type and knit at the same time.

264 thoughts on “In case you thought I was alone

  1. Ohhh! VERY COOL! I’m thinkin’ that last one could be BIG FOOT. I’m just sayin…
    Socks look gorgeous!!!

  2. Even without the wool, it has been very entertaining to read these last few days. I wish that I had some solitude today.

  3. Glad you are typing; I can’t wait for the book!
    I envy your solitude too. Sounds like you are making the msot of it –and we are enjoying it vicariously.

  4. Your mystery prints are from a raccoon. They’re nocturnal, so I doubt you’ll meet face-to-face… but take my word for it that they are v. cute.

  5. When I named my Rabbit Tracks pattern, I spent a long time looking for rabbit footprint pictures to make sure I was getting the number of yarnover holes to actually look like what I was calling the thing. You have deer tracks, bobcat tracks perhaps, look at all those… Cool! That first one, though, looks like a big nose to me.

  6. “although I could not see the parts in question…”
    Stop that, in the back row. I’m sure she meant antlers.

  7. tracks are fun! my last trip to yosemite, I picked up a book on “scats and tracks” and it was great for helping me ID all kinds of tracks in the snow (coyotes and bobcats and squirrels and birds oh my!)
    here’s teh one for your side of the world:
    any book that lists different kinds of poo and footprints is a must read by me πŸ™‚
    its funny how being alone is the best time for us to start to actually communicate with ourselves, isnt it?

  8. Your winter working “vacation” has been a treat to share. I tend to enjoy the out of doors in the winter by looking out my deck doors into the woods behind my house. Two days ago while I was looking out, a possum decided to look in. I think he wanted to come into the warm, just like those deer you described. I also have a squirrel who climbs up and down my screen door. I wonder if he’s trying to get to the wool inside. I love my daily dose of Harlot, and am glad you’re enjoying yourself.

  9. Hate to be the one to bring this up, but I think people HAVE been killed by male deer, but that was probably in the fall (mating season) and, hey, probably far, far away from where you are…

  10. Another possibility for the “moose tracks” is an elk, but I’m no expert. Just a thought… Enjoy your backwoods time!

  11. I love all the hoof/foot prints.
    I would have been a bit worried about meeting up with the animals that belong to those footprints though…
    Don’t you have moose up there? They can be a fright!
    Stay safe, I worry about you… I know I sound like a mom… I am! LOL

  12. Sounds like a wonderful, relaxing time. Enjoy every minute! Can hardly wait for your new book!

  13. Moose or maybe an elk? My friend’s car was run over by elk out West (apparently they’re rather dumb and they blindly follow the one on the lead, and if that one runs into a car, they all do).
    That last one, though, is pretty scary. I sincerely hope it’s a compound cause otherwise I’d advise getting the heck out of there!
    And personally, I’m loving all these pictures!

  14. The solitude seems wonderful since you have internet. I wish I could gift the same sort of thing to my husband. This is a great present from Joe. Also love the socks.

  15. I’m with ya, anything with tracks bigger than my hand and I’m headed back to the house! We have squirrels, Rabbits (cottontails) deer, and other types of wild animals running around here. How much longer is your writing vacation?

  16. We don’t need knitting all the time. We knitters want to expand our knowledge of many things, not just wool. Also interesting is the description of solitude in the north woods.
    We have a book that could help identify the animals, but it’s at our camp, which right now is behind an impenetrable pile of snow. The book includes not only footprints, but scat. I guess pictures of that would not make for good blog material. Good luck with the writing and enjoy the peace and the quiet.

  17. “It’s like a gift designed to make sure that you keep believing in spring.” Boy, do we need these gifts sometimes. Today I saw patch of real green grass in a melty spot of snow – not the brown damp dreary sad usual grass found hiding under piles of snow and road salt, but real live Green Grass. Our temps today are in the 50F’s – Syracuse, NY – no coat! I had the windows open in the car! Fresh air! Tomorrow and Weds – winter storm warnings, back to the real world. Thank you so much for a wonderful post – helps me remember the joys of winter, and the promise of spring. I don’t know what those big foot prints are but – hope you get good news about that!

  18. The track may not be bigger than your hand. If it was made before the melting began … the track increases in size as the snow melts creating the impression that a larger animal made the track.

  19. It sounds like you’re settling in beautifully and getting to know your neighbors! I’m not an expert, but in NE U.S., we don’t have elk, but we do have plenty of fisher cats, which might be the 5-toed tracks you photo-ed. The large ones do look like moose, and the ‘compound’ track looks like a snowshoe hare again – putting its front paws down very close to each other, then swinging its long back feet up in front of them – a slow walking pace for these guys.

  20. I think Rams just slapped my hand for giggling in class, because I was so not thinking of antlers…
    And Hinterland Who’s Who! Damn right I had a flashback – I even sent away for some of their info once upon a time…

  21. ahh, the Hinterland Who’s Who theme music is now wafting through my brain….thanks for that memory!

  22. I love your adventure in the woods. I am always in search of “alone” time but rarely find it. Even though you have a cozy cabin to retreat to, I think of you as “Brian” from the Gary Paulsen Hatchet books – my entire family loved listening to Peter Coyote’s readings of those books.
    An interesting read: “Alone” by Admiral Richard Byrd.

  23. I hate to say it, but that last looks like bear. I could be wrong, though; I’m viewing your blog on my SideKick cell phone. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us.

  24. If that one was a moose, it was a baby. The moose around my inlaws’ place have feet the size of dinner plates. Maybe it was an elk or a caribou (which, in my little desert dweller brain, I think are different)
    Maybe that last one was a little cat or fox pouncing on something?
    (And yeah, I’ve heard of people being killed by deer, but so long as you follow the “back off” rule I think you’re safe.)

  25. Hey, cabingirl! Grumpy Guy (my DH)-the know-it-all hunter/outdoorsman- says the unknown footprints are probably a lynx, as it’s bigger than a bobcat. Lots bigger. You are right on the moose, and the compound print isn’t. Probably a bear. He’s pea green with envy at your cabin-break. Do you have bear-bells with you when you walk? Not to scare you or anything, but I have a feeling that running across a just-woken-up-from-hibernation bear wouldn’t be your cup of tea…………………

  26. I love that you’re getting all this time to hike, write, and knit. It must be terribly good for your soul.

  27. About the mystery track, was there only one of them? You did say you thought maybe something had sat down, so I’m thinking there wasn’t a whole series of them. It might have been made by a small bird of prey grabbing a mouse or something like that. This weekend, a brown tailed hawk visited my backyard bird feeder and nabbed a pigeon. The marks left in the snow looked a lot like those,but larger, with the addition of pigeon feathers scattered around.

  28. I don’t mind all of your wilderness content. If I want to look at wool, all I have to do is walk to my backroom and open the door. I can’t see the stuff you’re seeing outside my window. My view these days is of a BIG YELLOW dumpster and piles of lumber (renovation in progress). And we don’t get snow anymore where I live in VA so it’s nice to see it elsewhere but not actually feel the cold temps. Glad you are getting the alone time you needed and deserved.

  29. stephanie wrote: “A moose once bit my sister.” Ahahahaha. The people responsible for this comment have just been sacked. lol.
    elizabeth wrote: “Do you have bear-bells with you when you walk?” The forest service recommends the bells, and also carrying a large pepper spray for bears. It is also good to recognize the signs for what type of bear you may be dealing with. Black bear scat has berries and squirrel bones in it. Grizzly bear scat has bells in it and smells like pepper. πŸ˜€

  30. Thank you for all these photos, I relax just looking at them. I’m glad you made it to the lake overlook and I have to look up ‘iceboats’ as I’m assuming that isn’t a people thing. This sure brings back high-sierra high-snowfall living; I actually had a snow shovel cut down for me (I’m short) so I could get some good purchase on the white stuff. I drove with a snowshovel, bottle of clorox and bag of kitty litter in the car to get out of snow banks. How wonderful you’ve got this experience.

  31. Looks like you have lots of company! Here is a useful website to help with prints I’m not sure those are from a bobcat because the prints you’re friend left seem to include all four paws, yes? Bobcats pick up their front paw and then place their back paw in the same place (they have a direct register). I learned this because I have what I think is a bobcat that visits my backyard, and I live in the city!
    Enjoy all your aloneness (I bet Millie would really like this kind of aloneness)!

  32. I agree with Allison that the one set of prints is from a raccoon. We have a lot of them around here (SO & I actually saw 3 baby raccoons chase each other up a tree by spiraling up & around it – on someone’s front lawn – it was just too cute) & I’ve seen tons of them when camping out) & I think the 5 toes is what distinguishes them. The first one could also be elk – they get pretty big I think. We had one play “chicken” with our van on a back road in Montana years ago & just missed a head on collison with it because my friend who was driving slammed on the brakes & we had been going pretty slowly anyway because of the dozens of elk romping about & criss crossing the road. When we stopped, the elk’s nose was level with mine – at about 6Β½ or 7 feet off the ground (this was a full size Chevy van – not a minivan) – & less than 6 inches from the windshield! Here is a site that has a clear sketch of an elk hoof print & it sure looks like the one in your photo to me:

  33. The winter that my grandmother died, after the funeral my sister and I went for a hours-long hike out in the woods down by the river. As we walked down the long hill to the woods path that starts by the riverside, the wind was howling uphill at us from the ice. Once out in the shelter of the woods we saw lots of deer tracks, and even a frozen deer, poor thing. Then a giant bird track that was larger than my hand. I’m still hoping that darned thing was a wild turkey! Later, when we got back to my sister’s house, the Weather Channel said that it was -20 in town. I asked my sister, so how cold do you think it was down by the river? She replied, Just as cold as you want to say it was!

  34. As you try to sleep tonight remember this, the ax murderers and chainsaw choppers ALWAYS go for the naughty young couple sneaking off for some “alone” time. I think you’re safe. You’ve always got your needles to protect you!

  35. I’m so glad you’re getting time alone in the woods. Here’s hoping that you feel revitalized, refreshed and suitably accomplished by the time you leave.

  36. Don’t worry about the light on Wool content. I’m loving living vicariously through your adventures. I can knit, but I can’t be in a cool cabin like that. You are a brave woman – I know that much alone time would make me a little batty. Now, if I had a friend and a little vino, it’s a party!

  37. Your “maybe bobcat?” tracks almost certainly not bobcat–or any cat. Too many toes. Looks very mustelid to me–some kind of weasel, or perhaps a mink.
    I second the no-apology-necessary for limited wool content. I’m thoroughly enjoying your woodland adventures. Yarn Harlot meets My Side of the Mountain, with a little Ranger Rick thrown in for good measure. (I’m sure there are more purely Canadian references than these, but I’m a woefully ignorant Southerner).

  38. You’ve certainly been living my dream lately — I envy you soooooo much! I keep considering telling my DH that I’m going away on business, then heading off to a cabin in the woods for a week. Unfortunately, around here the snow & deer experience is pretty scarce. Thank you so much for sharing this whole experience with us all!

  39. Yep, that’s me, snickering in the back row. It’s better than sitting right up front and trying to frighten our Harlot into staying in bed with the covers over her head.

  40. Those feline tracks are a little melty. Toes are close together, and the rear end of the track looks deeper than the front, so I’m inclined to say that’s a big bobcat and not a lynx — a lynx’s toes spread out more to accommodate their built-in furry “snowshoe.” Although the toe-prints of a lynx could look a little bigger and deeper after a tad of melting. But it’s definitely feline and not the right shape for a mountain lion, which would be out of range anyway if you are still within reasonable driving distance of home.
    That big sloppy track is older than Mr. Bobcat’s track, looks like maybe a skunk sat up on its haunches. Maybe Mr. Bobcat was tracking Mr. Skunk for breakfast, an encounter sure to be unpleasant for both parties.
    On second thought, it also looks a lot like the tracks Jack Nicholson left in the snow, lurching around with that axe, in the maze, in “The Shining” …
    Nah. Skunk. Forget I said that.

  41. That last footprint looks to me to be the hare’s–see how the feet are closer together? Maybe he was sitting down. Or a toad. It could be a toad. Cheers!

  42. You take care out there in the woods! Moose will do the moose dance on you in a heartbeat. Being Canadian and all, you already know that. The rest of the critters, save the bears who are assumedly hibernating, will give you leeway. Wolverines, probably not. But I understand from the time I lived in Alaska that those critters will hightail it the heck away from humans.

  43. Forgot to add — the cat tracks are really interesting, as Mr Bobcat appears to be polydactyl. Ordinarily you would see four toes. I wish I could see the picture closer but it seems devoid of claw imprints, which means feline.

  44. I’m lovin’ these outdoorsy posts. Don’t worry about the knitting content…that will come…in the meantime, please keep thrilling this New Jersey girl with photos of wild life, foot prints, and SNOW. Oh, and icicles (that doesn’t look right…) Thanks again.

  45. Enjoy, but be careful. (A lot of us rely on your blog, you know.) Moose have killed people, and the mystery tracks are rather bear-like, as has been mentioned. Don’t stop the hikes, just be careful! (The book is going to be great, given the amount of fresh air and exitement you’ve had!)

  46. Its been wonderful being in the woods with you.. I have lots of friends to knit with, but few off in the wilds of canada.
    Its been a wonderful change.

  47. `This is so much fun to watch…do you think you’ll go back in the spring and see how different it looks?

  48. Humans being killed by a deer? Hmm, here in Wisconsin that happens only indirectly–by deerhunters who think they are shooting at a deer but are actually shooting at another human who is moving and who is, unfortunately, within shot range. It doesn’t seem you have that problem currently in your neck of the woods.

  49. I’m going to second Lynne in saying that the first set of mystery tracks are definitely not bobcat. There are five toes in those tracks, and bobcats have only four. It looks very like a fisher’s tracks to me. I’m in upstate NY and we have them here, so it isn’t too much of a stretch for them to be a bit more north. If not a fisher, then possibly an otter or another large mustelid. πŸ™‚
    The humongus mystery track looks to me like a slightly melted snowshoe hare track set. But I could be wrong. They don’t quite make it into my area.
    But yay for putting my wildlife degree to use! And I’m very much enjoying your trips into the forest. Variety is the spice of life and all.

  50. You don’t know how envious I am of you at this point. A house deep in the woods, not another soul around…just you and nature. That sounds like sheer bliss. Thanks for sharing the experience with us. I do so wish I could be there.

  51. OK, I’m going to sound like a total dork, but the moose print totally looks like a nose. When I first scrolled through the post before I read it, I thought you were making a snow sculpture. Duh!

  52. Wow- I thought you weren’t posting today. My imagination began kicking into high gear. Thanks for the track photos, they add to the details of what could happen. Seriously tho, there is a different quality to your writing just in the few days of your alone experiment. A little less sassy and a bit more introspective. What a pleasure to witness. The scenery is exquisit. I spend lots of time alone during the day, but what I look out at in no way compares to your photos.
    Thanks for the serious moments of Zen.

  53. What I wouldn’t give to be there….alone with just my yarn, a few good mystery books and maybe a dog for company! Your pictures are fantastic! It is great to find that others relish alone time. Someday I will take my yarn and go away, too.

  54. Lovin’ the tracks but hey, get your glove/mitten back on, your hand is looking COLD! (yes, I know, you’re already back in the cabin and toasty :^)
    I’m also loving those colours in your knitting, Yummy!

  55. I read your blog all the time and I always enjoy what I find here (though I’m a novice knitter and the knit-talk sometimes goes over my head) but these missives from the cabin have just been wonderful to read…

  56. Im sure the large one is a bear track, we have lots of bears here in northern Michigan….not that i live in Norhtern MI, actually im down closer to Detroit/Windsor area.
    Ive so enjoyed the blog these past few days/week…knitting is great, but nature pictures & stories are a refreshing break from regular scheduled knit talk:)

  57. πŸ™‚ We know that last is yer own footprint, where you slid a little to the left and then dug in your heel to get a little traction. Sneaky yarn harlot.

  58. Oh, it just all sounds so lovely. I think there’s something nurturing & healing to be found in isolation. (It’s probably a bit different with wifi, – I would have to have an internet moratorium because I’d be playing Scramble all hours of the day and not isolating and reflecting….) The snow prints are wonderful, and I’m sure something sat and had a gander. The Bigfeet have all gone North this time of year. πŸ™‚ Further north than you are.

  59. The “maybe bobcat” tracks aren’t any kind of cat tracks, that’s for sure. You can easily see the little indentations from nails at the tip of most of the toe prints, and all kinds of large cats retract their claws while walking. So, a mustelid (think skunk-like) is more likely. My other guess would have been dog-related since they also have visible nail-marks, but as you can clearly see five toes, it’s not a canine.
    I love seeing tracks in the snow and mud around my home. My favorite is the cottontail. It has huge, snow-shoe-shaped hind foot tracks set at a wide angle, with it’s tiny little fore paw prints just behind and between them. It’s such fun to see what dropped by through the night . . .

  60. I think your mystery prints might be porcupine… their paws look surprisingly human!

  61. if the tracks are of a bear
    he is white he has come to
    ask for your youngest girl child
    east of the sun west of the moon
    if you are there beware the bear
    how many tall tales have been
    told these last few days
    here we are sitting around
    in cyber space like a bunch of
    kids trying to scare the littlest kid
    the writing is quite good
    i agree i would like to see
    the other seasons in the woods

  62. Hmmm – those are not bobcat tracks – bobcats tracks are four toed, and look circular with, typically, about a 2″ diameter. I was thinking bear myself, but what self respecting bear is out in that weather? They might, as someone suggested, be mustelidid (sp?), but larger than a weasel – maybe a badger. They are definitely 5-toed.

  63. Actually, deer can be quite dangerous if they have a mind to be so (and bucks sometimes do). Their hooves are pretty sharp and an adult, even a doe, would likely outweigh you and certainly be stronger than you (not casting aspersions, of course, they just are). If I were challenged by one and didn’t have a hefty stick or some other weapon at my disposal, I’d back down pretty fast.
    As for the possible bobcat, it looks to me as if those paws belong to something with a plantigrade rather than digitigrade stance, which would mean more likely a mustelid. A fisher perhaps?

  64. You are aware, of course, that deer and moose are prey animals (ie they know they are Food) and you are a predator (ie eater of Food), and all you have to do if one of them snorts at you is yell BOO! real loud and it’ll be gone before the echo returns?
    If you come across a particularly dominant one, just stand up very tall, wave your arms, lean forward, give them the disapproving Mother-In-Law look (you have a MILβ€”you know what I’m talking about) and take a very aggressive step toward it. Yes, toward it. Trust me. It’ll run like H-E-double hockey sticks.

  65. I don’t think those tracks are Bobcats. Cat tracks don’t have the claws, their claws retract. You have some really fun animal print pictures. That is some pristine snow to get the prints that clearly. I have enjoyed your bloggings on the Great North Woods. Or is that in Maine? I get it all confused. I found bloggers enjoy my ramblings about the SW desert so I have that mixed in with the knitting which lately has been sparse. I better keep on knitting that baby blanket. Baby Girl will be here soon.

  66. In response to Mel’s comment about aggressive deer: amen to that. I remember reading an article a couple of years ago about an older man who was attacked by a white-tail buck. The deer had it in for him, and the man actually had to defend himself with his hunting knife. The deer lost (both the fight and it’s life, unfortunately), but the thing that amazed me was that the main comment from the forest ranger was that they determined that the man wasn’t guilty of poaching.
    Sure, I like to hunt mature, full-racked bucks with only a hunting knife at my disposal.
    The ranger was taking himself a little too seriously.

  67. I wonder if deer are discussing your footprints
    πŸ˜‰ Warm fire, wool socks and hot tea, sounds like Heaven on earth.

  68. I’ll cast a vote for the big prints being bear tracks. Cool. And, FWIW, I’d be more scared of a big, aggressive buck than of a black bear.

  69. Careful around deer – people have been killed by deer. In Yosemite, CA, more people have been killed by deer than by bears because people know to stay away from the bears but they think the deer are gentle and pretty and will let you pet them. NOT!

  70. Tina M (above) is correct, folks have been attacked and killed by buck deer in rut. However, as you so wisely noted, the stamping feet is your warning to back away, back away slowly!

  71. I’ve never heard of ice boats before. Yikes, Bambi sounds like he needs some Prozac. The footprint pictures are fabulous. If your vacation were longer you could knit socks for all of the various feet… although putting them on the intended recipients might be a bit tricky.

  72. I am picturing Steph getting more and more freaked out, the more comments she reads.
    Leaving aside bear vs. not, the statistics talking about moose and deer causing death I believe to include moose- and deer-vehicle collisions, a HUGE HUGE cause of injury & death in these Northern parts. Moose do not yield the right of way! And deer have brains the size of walnuts. All of us in the North Woods either have experienced or know multiple people who have had deer run into our vehicles, not rarely causing serious injury or death. So: vengeful murderous deer are rare; stupid confused deer running into your car at dusk or night are common. That is why the statistics are as they are, not that occasional (male)* human-(male)* deer (*by my quick & dirty research) interactions have not ended badly. At rutting time (which is not in March, anyway) deer are more aggressive but still not predators as pointed out above.
    Moose are not afraid of much and can charge, but other than during breeding season (which again, it is NOT) or a mother protective of her calf (they’re not born yet), a moose will leave you alone if you leave it alone.
    Off soapbox now; sorry, I just wanted Stephanie to sleep tonight without worrying that the deer and moose were going for the axes!

  73. I haven’t read the comments above, but the print that is the second from the bottom doesn’t look feline. (They typically have only 4 toes, the 5th is that weird one up above the wrist/ankle joint) I am guessing something like a racoon. Or at least that is what they look like in Wisconsin.

  74. I shared the tracks with my husband, he loves a good nature mystery. The first one is a doe, a buck would have spurs at the back. Similar to the moose track, it’s dig daddy moose.
    We googled bobcat tracks and definitely no, maybe a porcupine. (
    As for the compound one, could it maybe be a bird landing to scoop up a little critter?
    He is now desperate to go wherever it is that you are and play in the snow with the animals!!

  75. Your blogging about this experience is kicka–! Would you like to stay another 6 days for your entranced readers? πŸ˜‰

  76. Hi Stephanie!
    I am wondering if you have badgers in that part of the world? That second-to-last photo reminds me of badger feet… kinda. Not that I know for sure, but everybody else got a guess! Hee…
    No worries about the reduced fiber content of the blog, you always more than make up for any ‘slippage’. πŸ˜‰

  77. Don’t apologize for the lack of knitting content. I think we’re all thoroughly enjoying “Walden: The Frozen Edition.” I wonder how your family is managing with you gone so long?

  78. I love your tales of winter isolation. I am not quite that isolated,(northern NY) but enjoy being home in the winter, with yarn, books, snow to ski on out the door, and I take lots of winter photos. In fact, I recently heard that if you blow bubbles at -20 degrees F, or colder, they freeze in mid-air and I got some wonderful photos of them. You probably didn’t think to pack the bubble stuff. Next year… I haven’t experienced being alone that isolated, but I think I could do it !

  79. i’m totally enjoying nature week! your descriptions of the dark (the BIG dark) bring back so many memories of where i grew up, way out in the country. we used to scare ourselves half to death on our way back from the mailbox just by mentioning dracula. i mean, we needed company just to be persuaded to GO to the mailbox after dark (we had a looong driveway on the farm).

  80. Hey, Rams? You’re not the boss of me. So there.

  81. Sorry to be a spoil sport, but isn’t the last one caused by the snow falling off the trees?

  82. Alas, I live in south Texas…no tracks in the snow. I have to go to the beach to see cute little birdy and crab tracks in the sand. One actually has to enter the water to be attacked by a creature that can do damage.
    I think I may move to Canada. I’d like my memories of “duck and cover” to be replaced by “Hinterland Who’s Who.”

  83. I’m going with Sasquatch- as a Pacific Northwestern gal, it’s pretty much a given πŸ™‚ Besides, I’d rather it be BigFoot than, say, a bear or bobcat. At least BigFoot would leave you alone.

  84. Wow. I know many people envy the warm weather here in Florida, but I would kill to be somewhere with snow like where you are right now. I love all the guesses everyone is making about the animal tracks. I’m clueless, but the pictures are so cool to look at. πŸ™‚

  85. Cool pictures, love to see your view of the woods in winter. I think the tracks were made by a raccoon. Now I live in the city, right next to San Francisco, but we have raccoons in my neighborhood and that looks like the tracks they leave in the mud.

  86. Has bells in it and smells like pepper? Not funny!!! But please do be careful in case a bear’s alarm clock got set for early March by mistake. We don’t want him thinking you are an early Easter dinner surprize!!! Besides, a vegetarian eaten by a bear? Sorry, but it just doesn’t sound right.

  87. I live in snowless California, so I’m enjoying the vicarious snow–and the fact that I don’t have to shovel it or worry that my only road to civilization might get buried so deep in snow that I’d be stuck until spring.
    Blog on about it–I’m enjoying it.
    P.S. it was in the 70’s (degrees Farenheit) here today. That’s 70 ABOVE zero! Neener, neener!

  88. While I love reading and seeing your knitting, (those colors are gorgeous!)I’m so happy that you’re sharing this adventure with us. You’re living my dream. There will be plenty of time when you’re back in town to tell us knitting stories. Thank you

  89. I really enjoyed this post – you must be really enjoying yourself! Too bad you didn’t photograph your hand with the mystery prints. I really think they look like squirrel tracks to me. I don’t think raccoons make the same print pattern, but a squirrel runs a lot like a rabbit in that the front paws make tracks behind the back ones – I’ve never seen a raccoon do that!

  90. I was starting to be concerned! Glad I checked back in again to find you safe and sound. I would’ve had to check in the middle of the night and likely organized a search party if you hadn’t posted today! The tracks are fascinating! We regularly have squirrel and rabbit tracks as well as the dog ones, and tiny delicate bird prints too. We also had some bunny glosettes the other day! I think I’m glad we don’t have moose here, though. Them is big feet! :O) Take care and enjoy your solitude!

  91. Oops, my mistake, I didn’t mean the mystery tracks, but the ones you said were snowshoe hare. A hare will leave tracks where the front paws are behind the back ones but the front tracks are in line with each other vertically, not horizontally, and the back feet would be much, much larger.

  92. Truly, I am in awe, both of the beauty of the woods and by your bravery. I wouldn’t have lasted one night alone because I am *such* a coward.
    Thanks for all the gorgeous photos!

  93. How are you FEELING? More comfortable? Are you loving it? Counting the seconds until you’re free to return to civilization? Are you getting any writing work (pardon my French) done?
    Lovely, lovely pictures, and it’s grand to follow your adventures (or lack thereof).

  94. The big prints could be Lynx. There are quite a few of them running around lately. A few of my friends have seen four of them on a regular basis near their house.
    The paws are so furry that their prints are often obscured and less distinct. More than likely it’s back paw landed on the front paw print and that’s why it’s so big.
    Best to carry a big stick and walk softly.

  95. I think the mystery track is from snow falling off a tree. But that could be wishful thinking since I don’t like thinking about Bigfoot (or Medium-foot, clearly) loose in the woods up there with you. Or how about a biggish bird, like a pheasant?

  96. The one you think looks like a bobcat doesn’t look like cat to me, look up a fisher or a martin,
    could be bear?
    please be careful in the woods alone!
    carry something that will make a big scarey noise

  97. Sam Clemens had a too busy social life in Connecticut and had to escape to the wilds of New York in order to write once he gained fame. May you be so blessed…just don’t offer to publish the biography of a flawed statesman.

  98. Stephanie, I’ve been lurking and wanting to comment. I would LOVE to be where you are right now!!! I grew up in the woods in Maine. Cities creep me out. πŸ™‚ But the big deer tracks? Moose have horse-type feet and their scat looks like Tater Tots. What you saw might be a track that had spread as it melted…I don’t know how warm it was. That for the “larger than my hand one too”. I hope you have fun! Bring me along next time…I promise I won’t talk!

  99. LOL you are such a city girl. However, I am totally LOLing over the Hinterland Who’s Who reference. That haunting weirdo music and then the tale of the ptarmigan, etc.

  100. Stephanie
    further to fisher or martin….
    keep away
    don’t mess with them!!
    ditto black bears….
    Stephanie please come back to the city where it’s safe!
    nice socks

  101. That second-to-last one there looks like a bobcat to me. Or a lynx. Definitly feline though.

  102. I know someone who was attacked by a deer in her car. She stopped at the intersection to turn onto her rural road, and it came right at her and rammed the door of her truck a few times. Dented it up pretty good. This was during mating season though.

  103. The second photo looks certainly like moose, not elk. (Elk prints are almost identical to deer, to the common viewer’s eye.) Also, definitely not a bobcat or lynx on photo 4. It appears to be a weasel of some sort, possibly a fisher? Anyway, no scary bobcats in trees, for sure. The last one’s a mystery to me! Thanks for the nature lesson…

  104. The “bobcat” tracks are a fisher or marten – from your hand size, probably fisher. (Stay away from that. It’s nocturnal.)
    Snowshoe hare tracks are usually just big “poofs” with no definition. Without your hand in the shot we can’t tell the size, but those may be possum, chipmunk, or squirrel. Perhaps snowshoe…
    Moose definitely looks like moose.
    Don’t worry, that compound one must be compound indeed – a bear track is very clearly defined. We hope…
    (All from DH from Harper & Rowe’s Complete Field Guide To North American Wildlife)
    Stay warm and safe!

  105. Actually, every year deer kill about two hundred people and injure another 10,000. They do this on the roads, by flinging themselves in front of automobiles.
    Deer also kill a handful of people and injure a few hundreds in the US more directly. Deer hooves are sharp. I was staying in Yosemite some years back when a doe killed a woman who got between her and her fawn.
    Since you’re not driving and it’s the wrong time of year for fawns, you’re probably pretty safe.

  106. YH- All wool, all the time in the gorgeous winterscape your currently find yourself would be a dis-service to yourself and your fans. Continue to enjoy the inhabitants foot prints, just stay away from the yellow and brown snow!

  107. I read for the knitting…and for everything else. Thank you so much for these “cottage” posts. I have loved every single one of them. They are funny, articulate, fun to read (but then, you are NEVER lacking in this department). I so so so could relate to your “inquiΓ©tudes” (we wouldn’t want to call them “fears”) that I laughed and laughed. Merci!

  108. Stephanie, I just had the total pleasure of reading one of your blogs thanks to a dear friend of mine who reads your “journeying” daily. I will be doing the same from here on out.
    The sock as companion is a total riot! And extremely creative. The blog on being locked out of the hotel room (something I can relate to — twice — and in my case, in a see-through nightie hiding by the same ice maker) was one of the funniest things I’ve read!
    Don’t ever stop writing! Or leave home without your camera and sock πŸ™‚

  109. I think the ones with the little claw prints are raccoon. They have the clever little paws that can get into most anything.

  110. This has been a great read. Wool?….What’s that, like we all need to hear about that now, not that we don’t enjoy your escapades with wool. So glad you are still writing!! This is so amazing, I for one can’t wait until your new essay’s come out and we can read them imagining the backstory behind them. thanks for sharing! You are a gem.

  111. It’s not coincidence that Pan, the god of forests and lonely places, is also the source of the word “panic.” πŸ™‚
    I wish we had snow like that where I live (southern US). I’d love to see tracks like that.

  112. Steph, you said:
    “There are no records of peopler being killed by deer … ”
    DUDE, HELLO?!?
    There are thousands of reports of people killed by deer !!! Those cute little Bambi critters have got razor-sharp hooves, and the boys have big ol’ antlers, and the bucks this time of year aren’t the ones to worry about – it’s the does. Those “harmless sweet” little deer can and will shred your ass. GOT GOOGLE? Look it up, honey.
    I spent ten-plus years as a hunting guide. Those are not friendly little “Bambi” out there.
    Yeah, they’re cute, and yeah, they’re prey and they know it … but they’re also well-equipped for shredding humans (and other creatures in their territory). DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE DEER !!!

  113. RE: tracks
    “This track is deer like, but made by something larger and heavier by comparison, and that only leaves moose I think.”
    sugarplum … tracks in the snow or the mud get bigger faster when melting happens. That is not a moose. Do you have elk up there? Likely that’s a deer track with melting ’round the edges.
    If you are in the territory of a moose (or plural moose) then you want to quit traipsing around in their territory. Whitetail deer (see previous photos of yours) and mule deer can be territorial, but a moose or two can get REALLY territorial.
    You need a walking staff or a large dog or a large man or a firearm (yeah, I know, you don’t agree with that, but you get cornered by a large pissed-off wildlife up there and you may change your mind……)
    Elsewise, stay inside with the knitting and camera and the writing.

  114. All this talk about badgers and fishers is reminding me of “The Mitten,” as illustrated by Jan Brett, in which a series of woodland creatures find comfort (starting with a mole and growing in size until a bear scrunches his way in) in a very well-knit white mitten by a Ukrainian grandmother. My 2 1/2 year-old daughter would let you know that the badger got the thumb.
    So just don’t leave any well-knit white mittens lying around outside – they stretch!

  115. That last one looks like a zombie track to me. Definitely. I took a tracking badge with the Girl Scouts. πŸ™‚

  116. Hmmm. Gotta see the other two prints unless it’s something that walks on two feet. Have you been sleepwalking in the snow?

  117. The hardest thing about those bear bells is getting the darn bear to sit still while you try to tie it on! Do NOT fill your pockets with black sunflower seeds before you go out. The bears cleaned out our feeders a couple weeks ago, and they will go a long way for sunflower seeds. Here in northern Minnesota, it is about to snow and get cold again. Sending it your way, Steph!

  118. Greetings from Sunny Florida. I *love* animal tracks. We get them in the yard sometimes, and at work on the grass too and I’m endlessly entertained by them. I think it’s very nice of them to leave records that they’ve been through your area – kindof like a calling card, but less expensive engraver’s bills.
    Hopefully, beach pictures tomorrow. And believe it or not, I’m very very jealous of where *you* are. Just a little over a month til I get to see you in Atlanta! Squee!

  119. Good grief! First chain-saw wielding axe murderers and now bears and mountain lions???!!! Get inside and lock that door!
    Wouldn’t you be much happier at home? It would certainly be safer! There you only have to contend with nutty neighbours and kleptomaniacal squirrels.
    (I’m so glad New Zealand is less dangerous. We only have hairy birds and ugly bugs!)

  120. Those mystery tracks are too small for bobcat, and the toes are too slender. Bobcats are more round. My best guess would be wolverine.

  121. Definitely not bobcats, bobcats only have 4 toes, just checked with my dad. Yep, I’m going with wolverine. Not Hugh Jackman either, the smaller furrier wolverine, although I wouldn’t mind running into him, Hugh that is, in a lonely snowed in cabin. *snort*

  122. the mystery track is a wild Wisconsin Snow-Pig.
    I’ve heard them at night, they’re deadly, maybe bigfoot as well, or bigfoot walking carrying a snow pig

  123. Hey, Stephanie’s ring finger is way shorter than her index finger. Is that normal or a freakish knitting mutation to help us identify her tracks in the snow?

  124. Before I started reading in earnest, I looked at the first picture of the footprints, and all I could think was “Holy crap, she found a snow nose!” You know, like people find potato chips shaped like Abraham Lincoln’s profile or see the Virgin Mary in oil run off in a puddle in a gutter. I’ve gotta say, though deer are cool, it’s much cooler to think that maybe there’s some big creature in your forest that has a footprint exactly like a giant human nose.

  125. Those of us of a certain age and in the Lower 48 are all channeling the original Wild Kingdom right now – RIP Marlin and what did you have against Jim? ‘Course Jim now has a good and cushy job and brings animals to visit Jay Leno on a regular basis – the best revenge.
    NB Bobcat’s front and back paws are very close in size and large for their bodies. Racoon is a good posibility for the set of 4 prints.
    Also NB, both stags and moose have killed people. Don’t fool around with things larger than yourself who have testosterone unless they want something you got. You ain’t got what a moose wants.
    I’ve been writting alone on an island for the last three days. Okay, I have most of an article on Madrona done for my Guild newsletter but it’s writing and I’m alone today, except for when the realtor came by to learn how to turn on the lights to the beach.
    I’m babysitting our island house through an For-Sale Open House and subsequent revisits. My wildlife exploits include a woodpecker who’s trying to kill my cedar and whom I’m trying to scare off by whacking the tree from the upstairs balcony with my extendable pole pruner. I don’t think I’m winning – yet. No new racoon scratches on the fences or spoor in the yard. I’ll skip the mouse stories for now. They’re just in the shed currently.
    No, it’s not life-or-death outings to cure cabin fever here. Yesterday I went to the pub by myself after the morning clouds and dew cleared out. Sure you don’t want to relocate to the wilds of Seattle?

  126. Don’t think the mystery tracks are raccoon. They have long spindly front toes that tend to spread as they walk. My guess is bobcat. They’re definitely not big enough for cougar, even assuming there are cougar in that part of the world. As for the mystery print–not a clue. Maybe you’ll discover a new critter, who knows?

  127. Hey, is tomorrow your last day there? Your sense of nature will never be the same, for sure. Your sense of yourself has probably also change a bit, to say the least. And then there’s the appreciation of a week alone to write.
    Welcome home.

  128. My husband the Eagle scout says those look like porcupine prints. He says to look for swishy marks from the tail. And the last one–bear. Probably a small black bear. But maybe a badger–again, there would be swishy marks from the tail or the fur on the side. If no swishy marks, probably a bear.

  129. Dear Steph –
    Forget about the animals! What is the lovely sock yarn?????? It’s gorgeous!!!!! Thanks for all the fun reading.
    Hope the writing is going as well as your are entertaining all of us.

  130. Hi! I came here on recommentdation from Fine as Frog’s Hair because I often do what I call “Footprint Fridays” which are tracks and get people to guess them. Here’s my ideas:
    1) Actually a deer, see how the tracks line up? If it was a moose they would come towards each other, same with caribou. It looks big because it’s in snow.
    2)This one is your moose, it has those two dew claws on the back and a bit of the leg dragging in the snow…there is another print to the right and this wouldn’t be there if it was a snowshoe hare.
    3)You don’t have a size reference for this one so it could be either a vole or a raccoon. Obviously the latter would be much larger then the first.
    4)Looks like a bird landing in the snow particularly with the curve in the back and the deeper print of it which would be the tail feathers.

  131. A river! What a perfect place for a week of solitude. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying everyday of it so far. Whoosh, where’d the week vanish?
    This week will be one of the gleaming jewels of time that you will gaze back at with wonder.

  132. Your “Into the Woods” posts are wonderful!
    I am SUCH a city girl… and didn’t know how much crossover there was between knitters and naturalists.
    And surely the bears are all sleeping.

  133. Please don’t let all those comments scare you. I have a cabin in central MN and have all sorts of wildlife. You respect them, they respect you. Too cold for bear and probably too cold for raccoons. More deer killed by cars than people killed by deer, never heard of that. It’s all about the baby thing with any animal, don’t get between mom and baby. Deer are vegetarians and you aren’t cabbage! Enjoy your time, keep on the deer trails and stay warm. Love your stories and pictures about the woods so much that I am heading north tomorrow.

  134. I didn’t get to your snowy solitude posts until today so they’ve been a treat to read. So have the photos. What a lovely treat to receive from your hunnybunny. You’ll look back at this adventure and think how marvelous this moment in your life has been, even with numbskull things like not following the deer tracks at all times. The socks will be the Solitude socks.

    Looks like hare tracks for the “mystery”
    Don’t know about the compound. We have a lot of the same animals there in Alaska. And cross country skiing in the back woods has me running across a lot of them. Are you wearing bear bells when you go walking out by yourself? Warm weather brings out hungry bears, and we would hate to see an article like: “Yarn Harlot eaten by Hungry Bear”

  136. The “parts” or “bits” Stephanie was referring to on the pushy deer were the ones you all first thought they were!
    Deer and moose drop their antlers every winter and regrow them in spring. I think elk (an elk?) and reindeer keep theirs – but not totally sure about the elk.

  137. I was thinking racoon also but they have such elongated front paws and those don’t look quite like that. Maybe a snow kitty? They have huge paws in proportion to their size. Really. There’s no chance of it being bigger than a linx.
    oh,nice knitting!

  138. p.s. You know what we call ‘bear bells’ in Colorado? Dinner bells. And yes, the Grizzly scat has pepper spray and bells in it.

  139. That last print looks a lot like something BIG! Greetings from a hot, humid and steamy south east coast of South Africa

  140. Since you usually have a bazillion comments I usually leave off, but my friend wanted me to weigh in… I only skimmed through your comments, what a bunch of educated readers! I also think your ‘bobcat’ may be something else, fox maybe? fisher? I think your ‘snowshoe hare’ tracks are actually your nemesis the gray squirrel. And your ‘mystery’ is the snowshoe hare. I’ve seen big deer prints almost as big as your moose, but it probably is a moose. We had one walk through our lettuce bed one year (in the city, the humongous capital of ME Augusta), and in the soft earth its print was about twice that size.

  141. I, being totally crazy for critters, would probably get LESS writing done up there. I’d be hiding in a hole somewhere (never mind that I’d freeze to death – I’m that stupid) trying to see all these things. They’d come up in a few days and chip my body out of the snow. OR, I’d get gored by some ticked off moose. Yeah – I’m that much of an idiot! It’s possible my fingers would freeze to my knitting needles and I’d be trying to hide my hands UNDER the wool.
    While it’s true some people DO get hurt by animals out there, you’re so respectful of them, it’s highly unlikely anything will happen to YOU. Think of it, if an animal can “smell” fear, they should also be able to “smell” respect.
    I envy you the “Wonder and Awe” of it all. You’ll miss it when it’s gone, even while you’re happy to be home.

  142. Wow – I am in Awe ! I believe I would be stir carzy by now due to seeing no humans! I believe the mystery tracks are coyote or wolves . Have you heard any howls ?? I love how you are blogging all of this – very interesting reading !
    You are one brave soul !
    Kim O

  143. Thank you so much for taking the time to post the foot print pictures! I can’t even imagine.. BTW I’m a knitting newbie but you inspired me to try the cardigan…I just finished a goofy left side panel…Maybe not goofy, definitely wonky though.. LOL.

  144. Those look like “get the frick out of the woods, you are about to be eaten by something” tracks to me. But, i am not a professional.

  145. elk and reindeer do shed their antlers after the breeding season, all deer do. the only north american antelope (horns, not antlers) are pronghorns.
    and i’m going with fisher on the others. definitely not cat of any kind as there are too many toes and the track is the wrong shape. its also the wrong shape to be dog (or wolf or coyote).
    i am so jealous, spending time alone in the woods in the winter would be a dream come true.

  146. That sure looks like a bobcat track. I so want to see a Snowshoe Hare in real life–congrats! They’re pretty rare in Virginia.

  147. Steph, I am so envious of your week away – it must be wonderful. The posts this week have been beautiful- thanks for taking us with you on your sejour au nord.

  148. I love your posts about nature and footprints. Just keep blogging about what you like, no worries about keeping it knitting related.

  149. I can hear the Hinterland music in my head!
    I’m very jealous. Enjoy the peace and wilderness while you can – it’s a whole ‘nother wilderness back in the city.

  150. That real big track looks fairly bearlike to me–we get bears around our family’s cabin and I’ve seen the tracks. (I’ve seen the bears, too! One even broke into the cabin one spring a few years ago–no one was there at the time.) But would they be coming out of hibernation yet? Seems a bit early to me, but I’m not any kind of expert on hibernation. Or bears, even.

  151. So hate to “harsh your mellow”, but unless we have much more aggressive white tail deer here in PA, there are several reports a year of deer (usually bucks) attacking (occasionally, but rarely killing) people. Last year one of the buggers actually came up on a porch in Clinton County to attack a resident. Can’t remember the outcome of that particular bout!

  152. I for one will be sad when you leave this place. I feel transported to a different place and time everytime I read your comments. I am green with envy…

  153. Looking forward to seeing iceboat photos! We don’t get much of that here in the Pac. NW obviously.
    A quick addition to PhilB’s notation on bear differences (not that he needs it really; it was already hilarious and worth repeating) — scat from black bears in the Pac NW generally also includes energy bar remains and smells like coffee.

  154. I sincerely love reading these wilderness/winter posts. I think its validating to knit when you can at least see the snow- even if its on someone’s blog everyday.
    I live in Florida. Keep up the snow pictures!

  155. Beautiful commentary and pictures. Sitting at my desk at work it gave me a real sense of peace. I think your right about that one track. It’s either Bobcat or Lynx (which are fairly small).

  156. I had that happen to me once – a deer stomping his hoof and snorting at me. My dad said that the deer probably couldn’t see me well enough to make out what I was, so he stomped to try to scare me or get me to move so he could determine if I was a threat.
    But this was in Georgia…maybe Canadian deer are different.
    And I am green-eyed…I so need to get away by myself with nothing but yarn and books to keep me busy.

  157. i, myself am enjoying the slight diversion into the world of nature, although i do always enjoy the knit side of the blog too, of course! your woodsy adventure is reminding me of the christmas our family rented a cottage in muskoka. very similar scenario. well, enjoy it while it lasts and we will welcome you back to the big city when it occurs!

  158. I have been loving the pictures of the woods, not that I don’t love yarn pictures too. How are you possibly getting any writing or knitting done with all of that beauty outside the window?
    I will bow to the expertize of those who identified those prints as belonging to a raccoon. Although we have raccoons in the area, I’m afraid that I don’t know what their footprints look like. I do know that dog-like animal prints have definate claw marks and cat-like animals don’t because cat claws retract when they walk. Not a clue what raccoon claws do.

  159. I am so in lust with your trip this week….ask Joe if the owner of this wonderful establishment you are shacked up in has a wife, maid, housesitter, or a forsale sign? puuullllleezz!

  160. This has been a really lovely ‘virtual week in the woods’ with you…I’m so jealous (I’ll be needing some solitude soon, our baby is going to be here in three weeks!)
    And you’re coming to London too! They’ve got you a really super venue you know :o)

  161. That giant deer track might be an elk. Even bigger ones might be moose.
    The track that looks like little hand prints is likely a racoon.
    Doesn’t sound like you’re getting lonely or bored enough to write.

  162. Shel – if you think elk are stupid you’ve obviously never met one. They are, however, VERY big and can be dangerous. I’d vote for moose in our Harlot’s neck of the woods, shy animals but, again, dangerous if cornered.
    As for bear bells – harumph – THEY ARE HIBERNATING! Besides, everyone out here in the mountains know that bears consider them a call to dinner!

  163. That last print: Was it alone? It looks like two talons and the tail print. An owl standing in the snow?
    Also, (and someone may have already mentioned this but I didn’t have time to read through 170-something comments!) if it’s canine (coyote/wolf) there will be four toe pads with claws sticking out the end. If it’s feline, then there would be no traces of claws. Mountain lion tracks would be huge with four finger pads and no claws.
    The tracks with five pad prints could also be wolverine. They will walk in a single file line.
    I’m envious of your quiet time. Sigh. Lovely.

  164. Whoa!! Hinterland! Huge flashback!! Reading the word I heard the music in my head then I heard it on their site. You’re taking me back to my childhood and winters exploring the woods while my parents built their ski cabin. Thank you for the memories!

  165. One thing to look for are claws. If there are no claw marks, the tracks tend to be left by some type of cat. Cats (house cats, bobcats, mountain lions) tend to walk in their tracks, so that might be the reason for the extra toe.. In your area, you’ve got lynx – very cool. If martins, wolverines, etc. leave tracks with no claws, maybe one of those. (I’m only familiar with the lower 48.)
    The last one.. I like the bird strike idea, but if the snow is right, you can see the individual feather marks.
    Enjoy your sleuthing and sock knitting!

  166. Neat track photos. I hope you get to do this again next year, or maybe later in the Spring when it’s not so bitter cold, that’d be fun.

  167. I’d definitely agree with moose, which I scour the woods for whenever I’m up north but have yet to spot…
    I am envious beyond words – what a lovely little bit of alone-time you’ve lucked into!

  168. jeez when we moved from Queens (ny) to Westchester (ny) i kept thinking…. wow i’m in the woods…
    and to think i got freaked out by the d@mn turkeys (feathers fanned gobbling away… i’m sorry they still should be either cooked or frozen).
    now… i’m realizing
    im not only a city chic (hehe)
    im pretty much a wimp too
    stephanies moose bitten sister and philb’s peppery bell ringing bear scat (did i just type that) cracked me up…
    sorry but the comments here are as good as your posts!

  169. The ones you thought were bobcat I think are racoon, but the feet look backwards-the thumbs are pointing the wrong way…anyways, very cool.

  170. This has intrigued me just enough to call in the big guns. I do nuisance wildlife relocation and although I’ve had the opportunity to do some snow tracking while travelling, I confess that I tried to extrapolate snow prints based on prints in sand — which deteriorate in a manner closer to the way tracks age in snow than the way the do in mud or silt.
    So I showed your photos to my trackmaster friend Sandy at the university, who has spent a great deal of time snowtracking in the Northcentral U.S.
    I had ruled out raccoon based on the shape — raccoon prints have narrow, skinny toes, which look like a narrow, outspread human hand (at least on the front feet). I had also ruled out mink, fisher or marten due to the size and the lack of claw marks (at least none that I can distinguish on my monitor). The footpad on a mink or marten is not triangular, but more boomerang-shaped (dang, I wish I could draw here). Yes, too many toes for a bobcat, though it could be polydactyl (it happens, as with housekitties). So I went with polydactyl bobcat even though they don’t fall “perfect walker” style (back feet overlapping front) I was thinking maybe a different walking style to stay aloft on snow.
    Sandy says I totally over-thought it. Mr. Bobcat is not a bobcat but definitely the slightly melted track of a marten — and a MIGHTY BIG one, she says. She also says the faint claw marks of a marten would vanish first in melting, followed by the definition of the boomerang shaped footpad, thus leaving a triangular mark not unlike a bobcat’s footpad.
    So I stand humbly corrected — not a polydactyl bobcat. Although she gave me brownie points for considering the possibilty, she says a BIG marten is much more probable. πŸ™‚
    Amd? She says it’s a really big one, even allowing for track growth with now melt. So don’t mess with it.
    Sandy also says the butt-print looking one is definitely a birdstrike.
    Seriously, though? I got so busy looking at pictures I didn’t read all the text until today.
    Dude, deer kill people — their hooves can lay you open — and you did the right thing in response to the stomping. That’s a hardcore warning.

  171. Okay, clearly very few of your readers have really studied mammals. I have a master’s degree in biology and have studied mammals for a living. Rest assured, these are the best guesses that you will get for your tracks.
    First photo–definitely a deer (1 point for Stephanie!)
    Second photo–Elk. The front part of the print is the actual track, while the back part of the print is the dew claws that also sunk into the deep snow. Moose tracks would look similar, but larger. Caribou tracks are more rounded overall, and you would probably have to travel further north or west to run into any.
    Third photo–these are pretty classic looking tree squirrel tracks. I assume there are eastern fox squirrels or eastern gray squirrels in the area?
    Fourth photo–these are a little trickier. It looks like there are five toes in the tracks, and the tracks are wider than they are long. This makes it a weasel or weasel-like animal. Raccoons have five toes, but their feet are more elongated. The most likely possibilities (assuming that you have fairly small hands) are marten, mink, or striped skunk. I am personally leaning toward the skunk possibility. Photos of fresher tracks would probably confirm it. Although, how cool would it be that you might be able to see a marten? Few people have.
    Fifth photo–this is definitely the most difficult. I have never really seen tracks like this before. After checking through my track books, I have two possibilities–snowshoe hare or porcupine. If it is the gigantic bunny, it was probably taking in the scenery when it made that track because it doesn’t really look like a typical traveling hop. As for the porcupine possibility, take a look at some of the trees. If you see some where large chunks of the bark has been gnawed off (either at the base or just above some branches) that means there are probably porcupine in the area. I don’t know how common porcupine even are there. I’m assuming it was a bunny.
    Rest assured, no need to worry about Bigfoot!
    Of course, since there are deer, elk, snowshoe hares, and squirrels in the area, expect some carnivores to be present as well. You shouldn’t really need to worry about it since most carnivores tend to be secretive and avoid humans. Enjoy your walks in the woods!

  172. I love the stories and the photos, wool content or not. I do have to ask, though – How do you find out all of this stuff? You are a city girl, are you not? Where do you get all of this info on the flora and fauna of an area not familiar to you?

  173. Ooo…I just checked out Dez’s comment. A birdstrike is a definite possibility for the last photo. Never thought of that.

  174. Hey Krista: A longer index finger is quite normal, some people have it, some have it not. Some people regard it as a sign for leadership qualities. That last group would also be the people who read the lines on other people’s hands. Guess, the Yarn Harlots ability to lead people to yarn shops and sock clubs speaks for itself.
    Hey, Yarn Harlot, I will be forever grateful about being lead to the Vintage socks! Especially, when they finally arrive. Somebody had been harloted, ;-).

  175. I’m awed at the range of expertise demonstrated in these comments. Haven’t seen such a display of erudition by The Blog since that business about Fifth Third Bank. Stephanie, your wonders never cease!

  176. I must say that the non-knitting knowledge among this Blog is impressive. Stay warm and safe.

  177. Another back row inhabitant being hand-slapped by Rams here. I’m surprised you didn’t run after the Big Bunny with a comb and a drum carder. Just sayin’. Amazing all those tracks in the snow. I’m loving having a little vicarious woodland adventure (sans the actual, you know, cold part). Only tracks I ever see around here are those of the urban, sewer-dwelling racoon–nasty beast, and I don’t think it’s fur is spin-worthy.

  178. HI..I don’t think the one set of tracks belong to a bobcat because they have retractile claws and so the claws don’t show in the prints…Fox have similar tracks..maybe raccoon? I dunno…

  179. I’m still sending a caution for…you guessed it..wolverines. Not the super-hero kind either.
    Carry a stick…a sharp,hard pointy…ah,you do, don’t you?

  180. I am not a knitter I know I know; I do so enjoy your blog. There are so many interesting facets to your writing that have nothing to do with knitting. Marylyn

  181. Actually, there is a program that the lovely programmers have made that basically types as you speak into a microphone. Granted you have to put in the periods, commas, homonyms, and capitalization for names/places/etc, but it’s pretty handy. That way, you can knit and type at the same time. But you also have to speak the way you write, which is something that is a little difficult. Just a thought.
    It’s sunny in Northern California. Care to stop by Sacramento? It’s a nice, balmy, 16.67C here. It’s nice.

  182. I am mesmerized by the animal tracks (Hinterland Who’s Who! Holla!) but suddenly want to know about the needles on your socks – by any chance are those the 6-inch Knit Picks Harmony wood ones? And if so, are they comfortable for using only 4 at a time, as I think you are doing above?
    I hope the wildlife continues to show you good walking paths.

  183. The composite track– looks to me like the snowshoe hare peed while it sat there. Is it the same size as the other rabbit ones? (Except for the melty spot?)

  184. I appologize for yesterday’s comment about the falling snow. I realize you take an effort with the blog, and I shot my mouth off without thinking.
    I love the expertise comming out regarding the prints. You have such an educated blog supporting you.
    I am jealous as can be about being out in the snow in solitude. I have never been hurt by wildlife, although I know it is possible. I believe I am the bigest danger to myself in the wild. You seem to know what you are about.
    Enjoy. Thank you so much for sharing.

  185. Oh my, I’m still chuckling over checking scat that has bells and pepper. Personally, the day someone wants me to check scat that closely is the day I “scat” to the nearest bookstore, put my feet up, settle in with a cappuccino, a good book, or some knitting and let some other hardier soul check the poop. I did enough of that when my kids were small. And I hate to bring up the dangerous deer stuff, but here in S.Central PA, we had an incident just this year where a deer in rut attacked an old gentleman who had rushed outside to come to the aid of his little dog who the deer was originally attacking. I guess the fellow had let the dog out to do his business and when he glanced out the window, he saw the deer attacking his little Fritz so off he went to chase the deer away. But deer in rut aren’t thinking too clearly and this one didn’t scare. It just changed targets. Along came the Mrs. who looked out the window, saw her husband being knocked all over the place and out she charges to help him but at least she had the prescence of mind to grab the broom this time and call 911 before heading out the door. The deer charged her, the broom went flying, and soon she was being knocked all over. When the police arrived on the scene, the deer made a fatal error and tried to charge the police and at that point, they had to shoot it. I believe all but the deer survived. Moral of the story: Stay out of the woods during rutting season! Never try to take on a deer. And if one stamps its paw at you? Back up slowly, avoid eye contact, don’t wave anything red, and then run like heck back to the cabin. Hmmmm, I might have mixed a few of my animal lore together there but you get the idea.

  186. I know nothing about the tracks but have to say that if you do see a moose I’m going to be pretty whacked out jelouse. I’m not sure what the balance of your comments have been – but I’ve been enjoying your time in the woods, this may be a sign that I should pitch everything and move to the woods myself. (dreaming I know). Finally – a thought for your next book project – since you’re really clever when it comes to fiber goodness – a survival guide for when all you’ve got is wool & needles….

  187. “A Guide to Nature in Winter” by Donald Stokes and Lillian Stokes is another fabulous book, including tree bark and buds, and (my favorite) dried wildflowers, besides the usual scats and tracks. You’d have to find a used copy, though – we treasure ours! Northeast US and North central North America, so you’re practically covered up there!
    Love the scenery you are showing us, as I miss the snow terribly down here in New Jersey, where the winters are truly pathetic.

  188. Um – Harlot??? You there? By my reckoning you would be coming home today, and you haven’t posted since yesterday. Just a little worried that you might have tangled with the creature who left the tracks???
    Or maybe you decided that when Joe delivered the pizza today you’d trap him for the night and come home tomorrow – which I think sounds like an excellent plan. You could really enjoy each other’s company in the great white north.
    Except, we’re kind of concerned, and there’s another storm coming today. And if the migraine I’ve got is any indication, it’s going to be a big one. So that could make travelling dangerous?
    Please post soon.

  189. Dear Stephanie,
    I love your blog, and I realize that so many others do that this may be rather moot, but I still nominated you for the “You Make My Day” blog award at my blog.
    You needn’t respond to that in any way. I know you’ve got lots of other things on your to do list, and I’d rather you spent your time blogging or writing than worrying about awards πŸ™‚ I just thought I’d let you know and I hope if there are any people out there who haven’t already found your blog, may find it through the list on mine.
    Because, for what it’s worth – you really do make my day, every day when I come here to read your posts, whether you speak of knitting, bear tracks or books.
    Thank you.

  190. I can’t imagine all that snow, but it is beautiful. Thanks for sharing the prints, my hubby will enjoy…

  191. I loved all the various print IDs in the comments. Sounds like quite a lively debate could be carried on between all the folks who have tracking knowledge, especially when they try to take into account changes made by snow melting! I could recognize the deer slot just fine; wasn’t too sure about elk vs. moose in the second (never seen moose tracks, except for the ice cream [g]); and on the last, just knew it wasn’t right for a cougar. Although the cougar prints I’ve seen were in mud, not snow. πŸ˜‰ As to people talking about bears hibernating re the last print, even though I’m not arguing with the folks who know saying it’s not bear…I’d like to point out that when Chinooks come through, bears *have* been known to wake up briefly and take a short gander around to see what’s up before heading back to their den. Usually in a nasty temper. Good thing to keep in mind if you do this next year!
    This series of posts has been just fantastic. Thanks for all the wonderful pix! As to lack of wool – that’ll be in the book anyway, right? We’ll read that eventually. In the meantime, we get to experience the North Woods with you. Fun!
    And the socks are looking gorgeously at home in the cabin. The perfect colors for a woodsy interlude. I hope you’ve made them for yourself so every time you wear them, you’ll be walking in memories of Alone.

  192. Hi City Girl here again.
    Meg goes for (purely hypothetical, I assure you) walk in the Canadian woods. The crows are eating the croutons as fast as she can drop them. A very nervous Meg sallies forth, convincing herself it will be okay. Sound of twig snapping. Meg is frozen in her tracks as she realizes Big Ass Deer is giving her the Evil Eye and is arrogantly and aggressively stamping his hooves on the frozen ground. Meg screams blood murder, turns and runs into a very large tree. She is knocked out cold as blood trickles out of the large gash in her forehead.
    ::End scene::

  193. This has been a fascinating trip with you. I love camping and being out in the wilderness. I love being alone. I feel like such a wimp compared to your dedication to achieving solitude for your writing. I’m utterly impressed. The Scoutmaster in me loved this post with all the animal tracks. Best of luck with the book.

  194. Steph if you could take some color photos of the scat I’m sure I could help in the identification of some of those…chuckle

  195. “Black bear scat has berries and squirrel bones in it. Grizzly bear scat has bells in it and smells like pepper. πŸ˜€ Phil B”
    Too funny…just too funny!

  196. Hey Susanna Moodie – are you going to be back in the year 2008 tomorrow?
    Fenner and I are going to brave the extreme snow warning and make some trails of our own to LK…mayhaps we will see you there?

  197. I think the fleece-steeling squirrel contacted sent a bush telegraph, and the Mystery Print is one of his larger brethren….:)

  198. Just me with my usual sprinkling of pessamissism for you….here’s a link to a story about a guy who died from injuries obstained from a deer (2005)
    and some video — I think this is video of a guy who sprinkled deer scent on himself too in order to pull the dear in:
    Injuries inflicted by deer (2006):
    my own daughter and her cousin were charged by a doe in the spring because they were going for a walk at their grandparents cabin and didn’t see the fawn until it was too late…but mama spotted them first.

  199. Your lovely cabin-in-the-winter-snowy-woods-with-footprints pictures make me miss Montana! Here in Western Oregon we have lots of rain (I think sometimes I’m drowning).
    Thanks for sharing your “vacation” with us. There is plenty of time for wool when you get back home.

  200. So long as the post contains snow, I’ll forgive the lacking wool – oh, and you did mention both your mittens and your hat…
    Happy writing/knitting.

  201. Where approximately are you? The Muskokas? the Kawarthas? Algonquin? North of the French River? I don’t expect specifics, but what region of the province (country?) are you hiding in?
    We’ve just gotten dumped on again and are having our 2nd bus cancellation day of the week down here near TO.

  202. Suddenly it’s all clear to me:
    –You’ve always said wearing a hat makes you look like a penis but that no one believes you.
    –You said you were wearing a hat.
    –That buck stamped and snorted at the sight of you.
    Apparently you’ve been right all along.

  203. “It’s hard to knit and type at the same time”
    It’s hard to read and knit at the same time, too (at least if you’re me, following a complicated chart).
    With the audio wizard Joe on call, what about some Harlotty blog podcasts for all us knitters out there. I’m betting you talk pretty quickly and could read out your blog posts with out eating too much into your writing time. Please?

  204. I’ve loved hearing about your time in the woods, it makes me quite jealous of your time alone. But deer do attack; there are more injuries caused by deer than any other animal in Yellowstone because everyone wants to give Bambi a little pat. But you generally have to pretty aggressive toward them-as long as you don’t ask them to pose with the sock you should be fine.
    Moose, however, are just plain crazy.

  205. About those deer, in central PA a year ago, this showed up in my local paper
    (The link to some news source out in Nevada because you can no longer access the full article free from my local paper). I had to check the date twice to make sure it wasn’t April Fool’s Day!
    As long as you’re not feeding them regularly you should be OK. Snowy springs when animals are starving is when they do nutty things, though.

  206. Right on Julie….. Steph…do a pod cast, do a pod cast. You have friends that could help you, It’s a great idea. Eh? Eh?

  207. Did you see any iceboats – I looked and looked on my computer and I can’t believe I don’t have even one picture of any of our iceboats to send you — shoot… If you were close enough did you go for a ride?

  208. Crap. I just knit a moebius sweater. So I CUT it. It’s going to be steeked anyway….btw- knitting with fingers crossed? Not so easy….
    “Chant please don’t fall out please don’t fall out” with every stitch made.

  209. If you post pictures of unidentified critter tracks, then you need to post everyday, even if it’s just a picture of, say…some lovely trees, so we know you haven’t been eaten.

  210. I have checked just to be sure. As far as I can tell there are NO elk in your neck of the woods at this time. The nearest herd is in PA. Now, one could have wandered north but the media surely would have let us know if an elk crossed the Peace Bridge in to Canada. I know they did when a moose crossed out of the Adirondacks over the Lake Champlain bridge and the toll person even let him go without paying.
    Also tracks tend to get bigger with a thaw so it could still be deer that you are seeing, although a homely horse on stilts (otherwise know as a moose) is another possibility.

  211. Yo, Stephanie. . .just a little worried after two days’ silence. Hoping you’re in the throes of creativity. But pretty please, a little post?

  212. Was the last set of prints a samsquanch? did it getcha? are you laying hurt somewhere in the woods, having ventured off the deer paths? You still have a few days left on your wonderful adventure, and its now 2 days since you last wrote — should we worry, should we send help? Or are you just really in the groove knitting something or writing something, and will blog when you are done?
    we worry about you and the axe murderers, and the sneaky deer … hoping you blog soon

  213. I’m aggravated at my husband and therefore by osmosis or something, I’m aggravated at the entire world. I would love your solitude today. It will be interesting to hear about your re-integration into civilization when you get home. You are going home aren’t you?

  214. I passed your link on to a friend who lives in the woods. She said:
    The tracks she thinks are bobcat are probably badger. They have five toes. Much more dangerous than bobcats. Felines have four and they are rounded, not pointed as claws are in not out. Canines have four, but they are pointed. Rodents and bears have five.
    If it’s moose, the moose was running. Or if it was under a tree it may have been rearing to strip the branches. The one that scared her could be bear. I’d be scared to
    (AND she now wants to learn to knit! Score one for Steph!)

  215. I don’t like to give bad news but, in this case, I think it’s necessary. Deer can kill people. Those beautiful hooves? Razor sharp. If a buck stands up and brings those front feet down on your head, well, at least your body will freeze and keep nice for the funeral.
    The antlers? It was good thinking on your part to back away. It’s really awkward, trying to explain how your body became a pin cushion, all because you thought deer don’t kill people.
    Stay away from the deer. WRITE, would you please? The book. The one you’re supposed to be finishing, while suckering the deer into making trails for you in the snow.

  216. First time for a post here. I love your blog, have been reading it for about a year now.
    Deer have been known to kill people, they can be very territorial and within the herd there is a heiarchy of who is boss and ranking under that (I was raised in deer country in Colorado and a Department of Wildlife officer explained this to my husband and me after an elderly woman was killed by a ‘pet’ deer in our area). Several years ago my young teen daughter was actually chased off a path and through deep snow by a deer who wouldn’t give up the ‘right of way.’ She hates deer to this day! You did the right thing to back off – your deer was warning you. Not to scare you, of course. They are cute or beautiful to look at, but wild animals who fight for survival.
    Your photos make me homesick :):). Don’t stop posting them!

  217. The one you think is a bobcat definitely isn’t. Too many toes and the impression is all wrong, though I’m not sure how to explain it. I’m thinking it’s a weasel creature. Not a beaver though since they would drag their tails. Any otters in the area?

  218. Just wanted to say that a very good friend of mine turned me on to your blog and your books and I’m ‘hooked’ on knitting again. My grandmother knit (my mom’s mom), my mom knit and I started at the tender age of about 8 when I joined Brownies…needless to say I have just finished my very first sock ever in over 45+ years of knitting (albeit a simple one)…I was so nervous but now I am over the moon with excitement about forging ahead…thanks for the nudge

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