Today breakfast started at the usual 8am, but this morning we had a special breakfast of French toast cooked by Brian. An hour later we were met here at the ranch by Adam, a wilderness biologist who specializes in Canadian Lynx. After introducing himself Adam started the day with a map exercise, where in groups of three we found our location and an interesting feature of each map (some were topographical, some focused on parks, and one showed fire scars in the land). Once well oriented with our location, we stepped outside and learned how to use two-piece compasses. On each compass there was the standard base with the turning dial as well as a hood with a split mirror inside and a guide-point at the top. Despite its relatively intimidating appearance, the compasses were easy to use; we were able to identify a mountain in the distance and place it on a map.
After learning the basics of how to use a compass, we went out for a drive on the North Fork Road. As we drove north towards the Canadian border, we encountered several whitetail deer and mule deer. We made several stops and foraged into the woods without our snowshoes. During our first stop, we climbed down a steep hill to the edge of a ridge above a river and we were able to see animal tracks across said river. Adam walked us through the steps of identifying animal tracks and we were able to guess that the tracks were most likely belonged to a beaver. For our second stop, we foraged into a young forest, as older trees had been burnt down during the Roberts Fire and new ones were just popping up. We were able to find two sets of animal tracks. The first was that of a snowshoe hare; those tracks were parallel to the tracks of an animal, which Adam would later identify as a coyote. As we walked back to the vans, we were able to spot several moose along the north face of a mountain. On our drive up the North Fork Road, we encountered more deer and we were able to see how all of our lessons tied together, as we were able to identify avalanche paths, poor forestry maintenance, and the effects of forest fires. We would eventually turn back four miles from the Canadian border and head back to the lodge where we would have orange chicken stir-fry for dinner and later watch the Shining to wrap up the day.