June 9, 1999 - Wednesday

It's a Biggin'

Roads: 224, 57, 4630, 4635 (9 miles up), 5730, 5731

Started out overcast, few sprinkles. Broke into a very nice day by noon.

Cliff wanted to go. Bill Harper came. Took Cliff's Tahoe.

I filled him up at the Texaco in Estacada. Bill says the driver shouldn't fill up on day trips, the passengers should. I had already planned on it since Cliff drove last time too.

Cliff knows the owner from way back. We accidentally met a Forest Service Law Enforcement officer that Cliff knows at the Texaco. The talk with him quickly moved to the Big Hairy Beasts. He knew of Cliff's interest in them. He told of seeing "five dark suited fly fishermen" in the Clackamas River. It happened early one morning near the Memaloose Bridge in 1979. He was working fire crew at the time.

He also dug out a really good Forest Service map - like the one my contact had sent me in the mail. He circled an area up at the top of Memaloose/Fish/Wash Creek that he said had little people traffic. That's all he said. He gave the map to Cliff. He had circled the area two or three times using heavy pressure on the pen.

He also said he watches an old mine shaft near Whale Head by scope. Says it's smooth in front, like it was being used. Then he told us about arresting some protesters last week that wouldn't leave the forest voluntarily.

I mentioned the name of my contact to him. He knew him. Have a feeling he was going to check that out.

Went up to Cliff site 1. Lots of small elk and deer sign. Beautiful grasses and foliage had come out with the spring. Quite wet. Soaked my shoes.

Much bear "scat." Large piles, like someone had the runs. All along the south edge of the forest in the meadow. One spot had 4 big piles within 10', all in a line.

6/9/99 Black bear scat. SW foot Mt. Mitchell. Near "Mother of all turds".

Cliff and Bill found the "mother of all turds" over by the south tree line. The thing was just under 3" in diameter and in long coiled chunks. I was over by the beaver pond when they found it and I could hear them laughing all the way over there. We went back to the truck and got a clean plastic bucket and got it in without much damage. Put some grass under it to cushion the thing.

6/9/99 "Mother of all turds"

It was a biggin' for sure. We was a commentin' on the yellin' that that guy would cause on the way out. Could just hear it echoing over the little basin. "Yeeeeoooow." It was much more cord-like than the common bear scat all over the place. Full of vegetable materials. Didn't show any meat grease or bones. Also, it wasn't like elk droppings. That comes out like big grapes and the grapes are bunched up on the ground in different sized piles. There was plenty of elk droppings all around, so we had something to compare with "The mother of…"

I had found a tree over by the edge of the pond that had been torn to hell down to the core from about 6' up to the 8' level. The work went all around the tree. No damage above or beneath. The wood was ripped off chip like, it didn't seem like woodpecker damage, although it proabably was. Very curious.

Took 6335 up high. This is the road that goes up to the high plateau north of Mt. Mitchell. Stopped for lunch a place with a nice view. Had made a good tuna sandwich for myself and had brought plenty of celery sticks. Bill commented on the whiteness of the tuna. Told him I bought albacore on sale. He said he felt like he paid a lot if he spent 50 cents on a can, but that it wasn't normally too bad if you put in a lot of relish. Cliff had a boiled egg for all of us. Good.

It wasn't a real warm day. I hadn't frozen the water in my water bottles, just put ice in them. The ice kept all day.

We drove 9 miles until the road closed from snow on the north side. When we got to 130 spur road, we took it down to the end. Talas or scree slopes and pockets all around. Glassed them good. One reprod patch we saw was totally out of place. It was up high on the slope above us and was planted in military style rows.

Cliff and Bill were piddling around doing something, looking at screes or going down a side road or something, so I took off walking back downhill. I went probably close to 2 miles before they caught up with me, so they had a good look at whatever they were looking at. I was standing quiet beside the road watching two doe deer browse. They hadn't seen or heard me or caught my scent, so it was a real treat to watch them for some time. While I was standing there, I also had a good view to the south and west, so I did some geography.

We backtracked a little on our way to 6335 road. Stopped and walked quite a ways up Cliff site 2 road. Inspected the site. Nothing. Lots of foliage had burst out during the spring. Not much visibility to the east. Some one had made a filthy campsite. Hogs.

Down past Harriet Lake, we went up 5720 road because Cliff wanted to show us something up it. It's on the northeast slope of Oak Grove Butte. Must have been where the protesters were. About a mile up, someone had fallen a tree across the road with a hand ax! So, we turned around and went a little further east to the 5731 road that runs along the west side of Devil's Ridge.

I had found one more old Hershey bar in the pack. We had it for desert with coffee up on 5731 road just past the big power lines. Cliff laughed when he saw it come out and was pretty game about it. Harper sort of winced when he bit into his hard chunk, but he ate it down. Off to the west, we had a fine view of Mt. Lowe and Burnt Granite. Just to the north was Oak Grove Butte. Took what turned out - to my mind - of a fine picture of the two of them with those mounts in the background.

Made the south curve and came to a rock quarry. Some equipment in it, so going to haul rock out this summer. No one around. Went down to the north end of the Devil's Ridge road. Very nice up there. Not a bad place. Where did the name come from. At the base of the northwest slope of the ridge is a place called "Devil's Spring."

We stopped where there was an outstanding view to the north, east and south. The hump of the ridge cut off the view to the west. Saw Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson, SiSi Butte (sigh, sigh) with its lookout tower, Peavine Mountain was to the southeast, but the north end of it was almost east of us. After that, we checked out the power line cuts and found heavy elk browsed plants and bushes.

Then we drove back. It was a long ways. We had been driving an walking a lot today.

That evening, I e-mailed Henner about the big turd. He promptly called me back. While he exhibited some repressed excitement about its size, but he said a turd is just that, secondary evidence and it could be from something else anyway. Anyway, it was in my garage and starting to smell, so I needed to do something with it. He only wanted just a bit of it, so I hit upon a nefarious plan. I called Ray.

Ray said he was interested in seeing it and knew a veterinarian that would probably check it out for us. He also said that he would get a piece of it over to Henner at the Primate Center. While the protesters were picketing the place, he thought he could get through in his old pickup. This was good. My garage was warm and SLB definitely wouldn't allow an extended visit by the coiled up beauty out there. She was in Finland visiting one of their software company subsidiaries, so I a little time to air the garage out.

The next day I drove over to Ray's and since he wasn't home, dropped the white pail with plastic cover in the cool, dark of his front walkway, up by the door. Ray called later and was, well, surprised by both the size and strength of the promised product.

Later, he got a note back from the veterinarian. That note said that the turd contained intestinal eggs of "an unknown hominoid origin." When Ray told him what he thought it was, the sample was sent on to get another check and then the answer came back that it was probably from an ungulate (in this case it would be an elk). Big change of results.

I don't know what Henner decided. Ray does, and has probably told me, but I have forgotten. In any event, it is secondary evidence.

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