Who Done It?

Hellroaring Canyon, Mt Adams

While hiking around the 6,000 foot elevation above Hellroaring Canyon on the south side of Mt. Adams (southwestern Washington), I watched these animals feeding in the alpine meadows. The next day I returned to look for their sign.

Photo by Dennis Deck

What animal(s) made these tracks? [ View Answer ]


Clearly a hooved animal made these tracks. While I have observed mule deer and their tracks at this elevation, these tracks have a different shape. The tip of each clod relatively blunt and the taper on both sides gives a splayed appearance to the track.

This was a mountain goat track from a group of about 35 that slowly moved across the alpine meadows below me grazing. From day to day the group worked its way back and forth along the face of the glacially carved canyon, often dispersing in smaller groups.

The second photo shows two sets of tracks, partially obscured due to indirect register (the hind foot usually lands directly on top of the front track but here is slight off center). The size differential of the two sets should be a clue that these are different individuals. This was a nanny and her kid, part of the same group. The indirect register probably reflects the slow, rather random, ambling stride they exhibited while grazing.

Nannies with a single (usually) kid made up much of the group. Young nannies and billies made up the rest of the group. The adult billies seemed to stay at higher elevations.

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