Wintery Scene along the Kilburn Loop, in Pisgah State ParkAbout 1/2 way through the hike, I noticed a line in the snow about 8 feet long and 6 inches wide. I stopped about 10 feet from the mark and pointed out to Laura, "it looks like something tunneled under the snow". I took another step, still a bit away from the marking in the snow, and a Ruffed Grouse exploded from under the snow about 6 inches from the toe of my snowshoe, just missing my knee as it shot through the woods. I had read about grouse roosting in the snow, and had hoped to see it one day and yesterday was it!
The last 2 miles of the hike were up hill and we, me in particular, were pretty tired. The "low-light" for me was crossing one of those narrow hiking bridges over a muddy seep. These work quite well for hiking shoes but entirely different for snowshoeing, I managed to fall into the only stinken mud hole in southern NH, fortunately feet first! But, now my snowshoes were carrying about 10 lbs of snow each as the wet muddy "shoes" acted as a snow magnet, we scraped off the mud and trudged on out! The fall was a minor inconvenience and this was a very nice start to the New Year.
This was not a birding trip and only 4 species were seen or heard, but little diversity would be expected out here in winter: Ruffed Grouse 1, Hairy Woodpecker 1, Black-capped Chickadee 5 and Golden-crowned Kinglet 15.