It's been a long, snowy winter, but when a rainbow of bees invaded the museum it started to feel a little bit like spring. The bees aren't living of course; they are larger-than-life photographs that make our exhibit hall feel alive. We owe big thanks to Sam Droege at the USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab who has taken all of these photos and made them available to the public.
Fresh snow highlighted every twig, and more flakes floated down as we hiked through the Rainbow Lakes Wilderness Area on the North Country Trail. This intrepid group of women calls themselves the NCT Navigators, and they meet almost every Monday (when the mosquitoes aren't out) to hike a section of trail. Most of them have completed the trail's 100-mile challenge. Most of them are retired, too, and I count myself lucky to fit in a hike with them even a few times a year.
Awooooo! My best impression of a wolf howl rose over the crunching of snowshoes and little voices. Gesturing to the group of third graders from the Hayward Intermediate School, I invited them to howl back. The choir that responded sounded nothing like wolves, but it was music to my ears nonetheless. So was the expectant silence that followed, since these kids were wise to the fact that I'd howled to get their attention.
It was late in the afternoon by the time we'd completed the scenic drive through Yosemite National Park. We'd been distracted by the looming face of Half Dome, panoramic views, lunch by a sparkling stream, neon green wolf lichens and the sweet, butterscotch scent of sun-warmed ponderosa pine bark. My cousin Heather and I had already visited Yosemite on previous trips (separately), though, so we pushed eastward toward a new destination.
The last bit of rare solstice sunlight glimmered through barren trunks and across unmarked snow drifts as I clipped into my skis. A few puffs of clouds caught the rays and turned pink against a gold and lavender sky. The highest boughs of a white pine grove glowed warmly despite the chill, and I glowed warmly, too, as I kicked up the first steep hill. As the sinuous trail swooped through glacial hills and mature forest, my stride became a joyful rhythm.
Can you spot a bear, a wolf, a porcupine, and a bobcat all on the same short walk through the woods? If you hike the Mammal Tour on the Ridge Trail you can. The Cable Natural History Museum and the North End Ski Club have partnered to install 25 life-size metal mammals along a short, scenic snowshoe trail at the North End Trailhead just south of Cable. Artist Mark Blaskey of Altoona, Wis., fabricated the mammal cutouts from steel and local volunteers installed them.