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SWWASAS

Gifford Pinchot Encounter April 21, 2015

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SWWASAS

Too bad I am not a hunter.    I would certainly know where to go to find elk.    Tracks all over the place. 

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SWWASAS

Solo field work yesterday in same location in Gifford Pinchot.     Resident raven still around announcing my presence.    Apparently nothing cared because nothing interesting happened.    Started raining out of thunderstorms so I did not stay out long.   Did some exploring on the back logging roads.   Many are overgrown to the point where my truck cannot drive through without the sides being scraped.    

Edited by SWWASASQUATCHPROJECT

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norseman

I applaud your efforts getting out there.

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SWWASAS

Solo again yesterday.  Had a Google Earth car pass me on the county road as I drove in before I got on the forest service road.       They have a tower like rack on top of the car and on that is a spinning drum with camera optics pointed out.   That is how they get their drive by road level photos.    I wondered at the time how many BF pictures that they had where the BF walked behind the car after it went past. 

 

 Nothing happened  indicating BF activity.     The place is a very active with game with lots of fresh elk tracks.    Dozens of game  trails coming out of a marshy area.     Two strange things happened.      As I hiked out away from my truck,  I found a big pile of unfamiliar skat that was quite formed and stayed that way when it hit the ground.   I suspect bear scat even though it looks different than that normally does.  1 to 1.5 inches in diameter and over two feet of it in the pile.   post-23549-0-39118600-1431806899_thumb.j  So I took pictures, measured, and went on my way.     It was on the North side of an abandoned logging road I was using as a trail, right in the middle of that tire lane.    Anyway on the way back to my truck decided to find it again and pick it apart to see if there was more than just vegetation.    It was very fresh and looked like it had been done within 24 hours or since the rain the previous day.      I found what I think was the same scat but it had been moved off the roadway and was off the road completely.     Would some animal move another's scat?  Are coyotes like some dogs and get into skat?  From my pictures they are definitely not in the same place. 

 

Secondly the road in is not maintained and since I have been going into that area I have noticed the potholes are getting larger, and much of the steep parts of the road are being eroded away.    It is getting to the point where access will become a problem.    On the way in, on this unused logging road seemingly only used by me and some occasional shooters, I noticed what looked like a rubber tube washing out of a steep part in the road.    The same diameter as what traffic survey counters are and running right across the road.     I thought about it and decided to stop on the way out and see exactly if that is what it was.    Not a traffic counter tube but what looks like a telephone cable.   No signs, 4 miles from the nearest building, and running up the named mountain.     A parallel road below had no cable crossing signs either and a  200 foot near vertical basalt cliff between the two roads.        I wondered if it ran to an old fire lookout tower or something on the mountain.   Very out of place.    

Edited by SWWASASQUATCHPROJECT

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MIB

Ah.  My first guess on that is bear.   It has that look when they're eating a lot of clover in spring.  My monitor is a little off ... did it have a green color?  You'll sometimes see them lay down to eat and just sort of belly-crawl along eating whatever is in reach.  At this time of year they might well be picking up the last of the winter-killed deer and elk so it could have quite a bit of hair in it as well. 

 

MIB

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SWWASAS

The color was similar to frozen spinach.    Very dark green and very fibrous looking.      I wanted to go back and pick it apart but it being moved off the road threw me so I was not sure at that point, still am not actually, that what I found off the road is the same stuff as what was on the road.    I had hiked miles that day and my feet were killing me so did not want to go back and look and see if I had missed the first pile on the road. 

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MIB

Sounds right.   

 

My sis, her now ex husband, and I ran into some bear scat matching the picture and of the color you describe 25ish years ago.  

 

Bear hunters looking for spring bears will watch clearcuts and glass for bears that are out eating clover, one of the earliest plants to come back after winter and a key source of energy for them to start rebuilding fat stores they used up during hibernation.   Old roads with grass / weeds growing up are another prime location to find them.

 

Sounds like you found a spot.

 

MIB

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SWWASAS

I did find some very poor tracks that did look like bear in the area.     Something that did not have a hoof but larger than elk so I suspected bear.   One had a hint of claw marks.   Most of the area is marshy.   It is kind of an intermountain shelf between mountains.   Great place to find BF footprints if they are around  but have not found any yet.   With all the elk surprised the place is not a regular haunt for BF.      Can just see them picking out dinner from the many choices.    

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SWWASAS

In the Gifford Pinchot yesterday with second field trial of my fat tired mountain bike.    Amazed at how fast you can cover ground compared to hiking.    Up hills are not fun but the bike is geared for anything.   I pushed on beyond the point I had ever been on foot on an old logging road that had not seen any use in decades.     Not even sure it was ever a logging road because it went past an old mine I had found previously.   It is a lot narrower than the normal logging roads in use.     The road got steep uphill and I decided to walk since it was so steep I was not going any faster on the bike than I could walk and I really did not want a spin class.    A deer came off the side of the mountain  like something was chasing it.    I stopped and waited hoping a BF would come after it and run across the narrow road chasing after the deer.     Something was obviously after it.    I saw a bow hunter on the drive up so thought it could be that too because there was another car at the trail head.      I waited several minutes with nothing happening and continued up the mountain.     Was just starting to see the side of Silver Star mountain and was looking forward to seeing it from that high vantage point on the adjacent ridge.    I stopped for a couple of minutes to rest a bit,  and from the short cliff that boardered the road to my left, right in front of me about 30 yards away, a cougar lept off the cliff right into the middle of the road, and loped off down the old road, fortunately headed away.    I suspect after it lost the deer, it spotted me, and was  on the cliff, trying to decide if I was a good meal.     It was big, very healthy looking, and a beautiful animal.     It shook me up a bit because it was so close and on the high ground above me.    Because it landed in the center of the road right in front of me,  it could have taken me down off the bike in one leap.    I had my hand gun but it was in my pack, because I was not sure how secure it is in a holster when I am on a bike.         I had my Contour Roam camera mounted on the bike handlebars but I was so shook up I forgot to turn it on until the cat was gone.       Anyway I decided it best to turn around and not continue if a hungry cat was in my planned direction ahead.       I stopped several times to make sure that the cat was not following me.      I was glad that it was mostly downhill and I made good time getting back to my truck.  

 

I was thinking about the bike mounted camera as I rode down.      I mount it on the handle bars just to have it handy.    When I hike it is on the top of my hiking pole.       I am not interested in video of me riding so it was not running.   I of course was kicking myself for not turning it on and getting video of the cat.    If the cat had been further away and not an immediate danger, I probably would have thought to turn it on.    If I have the same sort of encounter with a BF I have to do better if I want HD video.          But I was wondering if a BF would just think it part of a bike like a light or something and not realize it is a camera.     I think if we disguise cameras in the clutter of other human technology it may be difficult for them to determine what we have.  

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bipedalist

Cool adventure.  Sounds like you will have to go into "always running" mode like a windshield cam with the bike cam, point a rear/side view mirror on it near the cam if you are worried about being taken out behind by a cat.  

 

Good luck. 

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BigTreeWalker

Exciting encounter Randy. I've had glimpses and found their tracks but no face to face, or face to tail as the case may be. :)

You'll have to practice the quick draw with your camera so to speak.

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SWWASAS

It jumped down, took a look at me then ran off.  I did not know they got that big.   The bike was between me and it.     I guess that and the bike helmet made me look dangerous or something to it.     I was glad that I decided to rest a minute right then before I got any closer.    I have always been wary of high ground near roads and trails.    For good reason.   I had been riding mostly on the high ground side because the other side had a lot of blackberry vines out into the road.    Did not want to get a flat.    Those big tires are not very thick to keep the weight down.   I have been running them about 15 PSI.    Seems like a good pressure for them.     But right there I had moved away from the high side.    That side had a lot of big rocks and stuff that had fallen down onto that road from the high ground.      I have seen cougar tracks and scat in that area before.   One was typical cat where it went and then tried to cover it up with dirt and gravel.       I have to figure out something more secure than my normal holster when I ride the bike.    A gun in the pack is not much use if you need to get to it quick.    My hiking pole was bungied to the bike so I could not have gotten that free very quickly to use it to discourage the cat.     I am told that if you jab them with a hiking pole they don't like the pain and will move away.  

Edited by SWWASASQUATCHPROJECT

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BigTreeWalker

I would think if a little adrenaline kicked in your bike might make a good weapon. ;)

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daveedoe

A great encounter for sure. I'm glad the cat moved on, might be a good Idea to put some rear view mirrors on the bike.

 

Have you ever considered carrying your handgun in a holster on your leg. I use to ride with a guy who open carried with his 9mm in a holster on his thigh.

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SWWASAS

I thought about rear view mirrors when I was riding away.    Know how they like to chase.    My present holster I had my gun fall out when I got into my truck once.     Did not even know it was gone until I reached down and felt it gone.    Went back to where I had been parked and found it.    Lucky I noticed it right away.    So I don't trust that holster on the bike.    Will look for something else that might attach to the pack chest strap.  

 

Yesterday went back to the place I found my first time out on the bike.     Evidence of something big traveling down and up the dirt chute off the cliff.      Found a cave that had been used by something.     Could not get to the opening but was big enough for me to get in there.    Will look at pictures I took to see if anything interesting is there to post.     For sure, what I saw was not made by humans.    I could not get anywhere near where I was finding the prints and scrapes in the clay.   Too steep and something would have to be partly or all quadra pedal (4 foot drive) to get up or down there.    My gut feeling is a bear is involved since I think BF is too smart to take a chance on hurting itself tackling a 50 foot, dirt chute like that. 

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