June 19, 1999 - Saturday
Three Hikes, One Scare
Very nice day. Mild. Three hikes, one "scare." I drove, Steve along.
Roads: 224, 46, 4660, 140, 42 (1/2 mile), 4220 up toward Pinhead Buttes, 4230, 4220 to snow going toward Olallie Butte, had to back track to 46 and the Clackamas River bridge 4650 road. 4651 had guard rail across it. Indian Henry, 4620 - 200(?) no post.
East side of Clackamas River after makes south turn (or more accurately if flowing with the water, the west turn). Tried to get to the road paralleling the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Snow just at the curve north. Bear grass coming out.
This high and east starts the flora turning into Central Oregon and high mountain plants, trees. More bare ground - red dirt.
Saw big, bushy coyote jogging up the road.
Big views to the south and west. Mt. Jefferson and Olallie Butte with lots of snow.
Elk meadows down low, but little sign. Looked like it had been browsed this spring already. Went through the meadows to vicinity of Pinhead Creek on 140 road. Went for 40 minute walk. Split up. Very heavy growth in the moist areas. Very hard to penetrate, but did. No sign.
West to 4650 turn off. Narrow concrete bridge. Bad approaches, steel lip exposed. Some big truck had racked up the guard rail on one side of approach. 4651 closed. Parked at guard rail. Walked about ½ mile to torn up road. We actually went in through the brush by the creek. It was a strip of old growth about 200 feet deep to some logging regrowth. Labeled on map "Big Bottom" from this area to about 10 miles south. Kind of a big plateau along the Clackamas River.
We were walking up a game trail right along side of the older trees. The regrowth was about 12' tall and bushy to our right. There was a bowl of about 5 acres plus and then the clear cut went up the slope of the mountain. We were on the far NE corner of Burnt Granite's base. Funny thing about the game trail. Almost no tracks, but was well used.
I was following Steve by about 70-100.' He came to a small rise and from just beyond him in the regrowth came a great rolling growl that rose in pitch and then died off. He later described it as "enveloping" or something like that. It hit me like a blast and I was way behind him. I ran up the trail. Steve was looking out into the reprod.
He says he didn't say it, but I heard: "I heard the growl and then something moved away from me." He pointed out at an angle. Very interesting. We both calmed down a bit.
We decided that I should make a big circle to the south and see if something would come out. Steve was to stay on the mound with the video camera. I made sure my 357 was loaded and then dove into the brush. I went into the band of big trees, went south into the older reprod and moved up the torn up road. Couldn't penetrate the 25 year old stuff, too many limbs. Steve said I was making plenty of noise.
I turned back north to start completing my circle several hundred yards into the reprod. There was a torn up dirt area there too. The Forest Service tears up the ground to keep the little 4 wheelers out. Strange, hardly any tracks. After a while, I saw Steve off to my right. While I was just standing there looking around, something started: "wack, wack, wack." in the older trees behind him. I could hear it very well. It was three wacks, no more; but they were very clear and powerful wood on wood sounds. Then I crashed brush over to him.
He had an interesting story. Said when I was in the big trees, to the south, the creature had called again only not as loud. He said there were two replies - one from the reprod trees on the slope to the south and one from the reprod slope to the northwest of the bowl. He said the calls were definitely a question and "Yes, I am here." sort of response. He said they didn't sound like a bear.
Also, he said: "Just out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tall shadow go through that opening." He indicated a door way like space about 50 yards out in the reprod. He said: "I didn't see any form or color or hear any noise, but it darkened the space. Then, some few minutes later, a doe deer went through the space. She showed color and was just shoulder high into the opening. Then about 10 minutes later, you (meaning me, Joe) went by the opening making plenty of noise. You were taller than the deer, but at least a foot or two shorter than the shadow. I could see your colors good." This a paraphrase, but it is close to what Steve saw.
In short, the shadow was about 7-8' tall and made no noise. This spooked us.
Here are the facts of the incident in brief:
1. Heard close, penetrating deep growl with varying pitch. Didn't remind either of us of bear sounds hear on tv, etc. 2. Glimpse of 7-8' shadow, then deer, then me. 3. No noises from shadow or deer, noise from me. 4. No tracks, no smells. 5. Pounding on trees from behind Steve. 6. Responsive growls from two hillsides to another second growl in basin.
Well, we were a little unnerved, but decided to look around some more. I went over to the dry creek bed on the west side of the clearing and worked my way up slope. Steve went into the woods, crossed the road and down toward the Clackamas River. We met on the road in about an hour. With the extra adrenaline pumping, we both had made pretty good distances, allowing for elevation. We ate lunch and started driving back on 46. It was about 2 PM.
Steve had a lot of energy today and he didn't want to stop, especially after the excitement in Big Bottom. He had wanted to explore the meadow area up Indian Henry road for a long time. It wasn't much of a detour, so we drove up there.
The access road was covered with alder leaves. Must have been a wind. Was like a tunnel going down the hill. The flora varied after we got out of the tunnel. Heavy growth of scotch broom, worthless stuff. Tons of pollen from it in the air. Regrowth in the meadow, but some grass areas. Older trees along two sides and down by the river. All downhill, then it was back up hill. We had easily gone a mile. Two mountain bikers came sliding down through the grass and leaves. They were really moving - downhill that is.
On the way back, we disturbed a mother grouse. She charged us with great vigor from behind a bush. Scared me, I was just daydreaming as we were walking along and she was only a couple of feet from me. I used my walking stick like I was a matador. Steve laughed his head off at that cause he could only see me jumping around an poking a bush with the stick. Said it was the most action he had ever seen out of me. Then the mother did the broken wing thing. We just moved into the trees a few feet and three little grouse went running and so did mother.
We decided this was an excellent area to spend more time in when the snow flies. Just up creek was Joe site 1 & 2. This was obviously a winter holding ground for elk and deer.
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