That’s one sharp porcupine. Credit: Laurie O’Connor

Skiers nimbly dodged a porcupine as he wallowed through deep snow to cross Alta’s ski slope. Some stopped to watch the prickly fellow tumble into a tree well and then start to climb. That’s all there was to see. The show was over. He was as prickly as the evergreen so his camouflage was perfect. He virtually disappeared.

But porcupine puns spiked when someone asked: “Why did the porcupine cross the trail?”

“He was looking for love,” said one.

“There was no point to staying where he was,” said another.

And the jokes continued …

“Something was needling him.”

“Because he didn’t want anybody to get stuck waiting for him.”

“He pined for a different tree.”

Needle-less to say, to get to the other side.”

“His friends kept calling him slow-poke.”

“Where there’s a quill there’s a way.”

Most rodents don’t get such laughable attention. Do you have a porcupine pun to add?

Looking down from a chairlift, porcupine tracks are easy to identify. Tracks look like they were made by a tiny snowboard. Porcupines can weigh 12–35 pounds, and their quills detach easily if touched. They’re the third largest rodent in the world after the beaver and South America’s capybara. Porcupines crave salt, and when we lived in New England they were known to eat outhouse toilet seats for traces of salt left by human bottoms. And to get road salt they’d chew the tires off hikers’ cars parked overnight at remote trailheads.



  1. Met him (or an ancestor) at Alta 11 years ago. They seemed to like the Albion Basin area a lot, and carrots even more. Fun to stop and visit with if you see them on a trail.

  2. Hank Phillips says:

    I’m 2 – 3 and only skied 2 days so far this year due to covid. I will be 81 in 9 days and hope to ski with a son in law and grandson at the end of this month. We live outside of Reading, PA where it’s been surprisingly warm so the skiing will be in New York State.

  3. I’m sure you mean PORCUPUN, of course.

  4. Bruce Lund says:

    Years ago w hen I would ski with my Grand Daughter with the National Ability Center at Park City there was a porcupine nest in the aspen trees next to the lift.. We would try to spot the porcupine as w rode up. As a side note, she has CP but I never beat her in a race!!!She is now a professor at the Univ. of Alabama so her skiing is limited!!!!

  5. Patti Farkas says:

    We were fortunate enough to spot a porcupine high up in an evergreen from the Pioneer Chair at Park City a number of years ago. Then we saw the “Alta Porcupine” on a trail off the Sunnyside Chair the year before last as he (she) crossed just ahead of us. We’ve also skied Porky’s run at Snow Basin, but I guess that doesn’t count, as we didn’t see any wildlife there or on the Bear Springs run (thank Heavens!).

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