September 3, 1999 - Friday, the day before Labor Day weekend.

Grouse Hunting

Went up to Indian Henry with Steve. He drove. Grouse hunting. First stop was the big beaver pond a couple of miles up. Steve went around the pond. Mainly alders and good grouse place. I went along the ridge slope under the fir canopy. Nothing.

We went higher. Steve flushed about 15 of them off the road. Finally he got one with his fine little 20 gauge double barrel shotgun. He had really made a bargain on it about 1980. It was made in Japan and a double barrel by the same maker, of the same grade today, would easily go for $1000. Anyway, the grouse went down hill as they always seem to do, but we found it in short order. He has a neat and easy way to clean them too. Take out the guts per usual, then stand on the wings and pull the legs and the skin just comes off leaving nothing but grouse.

Tried to get to the end of Indian Henry road where it separates from the end of Whale Head road. Cliff often mentions why the Forest Service didn't connect the two roads. They end only about a half mile apart and are on the same elevation of the same slope. Must have been some good reason. Rock slide. Goober in a 4 Runner jumped the rocks, but he didn't know the road stopped at the bend in the trees about a mile beyond the slide.

Went back down a little. Steve stopped and went into the brush after grouse. I just walked down the road. Came to a rock outcrop and in the rocks along the road, I saw glints of light. Right! Little quartz crystals where the seams had broken open. I picked out some good ones, laid them on my jacket beside the road. I figured that Steve would figure out to stop and load it up when he came down. He did. By the time he picked me up, he said I had gone at least two miles downhill from where I had started. It had been a beautiful walk.

We parked and went up a side road that was blocked by vine maples. Tough going, but made it to an old clear road further on. We were trying to find Skookum Lake. There was a ravine going to the south, so Steve went up on the west ridge and I took the east ridge. My route was faster, so on the way back, I started looking over the country. Down below us, to the east was a rock pinnacle we needed to check out. To the west, up in the cliffs, I saw a big overhang through my binoculars. It looked to have a smooth pathway down from the ridge to it on one side and then a smooth traverse over to it from the pathway. Inside were separated shadows, or I was seeing different colored rocks.

I met Steve down where the old roads veed and led him up to the good vantage point on my side. It wasn't far, just a few hundred feet or more. He video taped the pinnacle and the overhang. He has a good zoom on his camcorder, so he got a good look at it and at some other caves up in the cliffs. All of them were up high, near the ridge line. We knew that just behind the ridge line was Whale Head and beyond that, Fish Creek.

We drove the short ways down to the access road to the rock pinnacle below us to the east. It was the separating ridge between Sandstone Creek and Big Creek. It showed a rock face to the north and maybe one to the south. We climbed up the knob and found we had gotten to a "false peak," the one we wanted was still about a mile away across a bench line. We were getting tired and we were talking steep and rock and hell to pay if we fell.

On the rock knob we were on, we had a grand view to the south of the Collawash River basin with Mt. Jefferson at the far end. We could see Granite Peaks, Burnt Granite, Mt. Mitchell and a good chunk of the upper Clackamas River drainage. Steve let me use the video camera to take a film of him and the background. It was the very first time I had ever used one. I was moving it real slow, so it turned out sort of well.

We looked over the fall if we slipped and decided not to get too close to the edge. That was a no-injury cliff, it was, for sure. We looked at the other main pinnacle. We thought about how tired we were, not exhausted, just tired. We decided to walk back down the hill to the truck. Good choice.

The side road was open, so we went down to the washout road below the baiting site and parked. I stayed near the truck, just looking around. Steve went into the regrowth. No grouse either area. We sat on some logs and drank a couple of beers and ate some more of the good white cheddar cheese and sausage that Steve had brought along.

Then we went home. On the way back Steve told me about the broken trees in series that was along the ridge he had walked while I was on the lower one. The breaks were all in the same direction, pointing downhill. He had found 5-6 of them and at first had passed them off as natural. Then he noticed they were isolated and the other trees near them were not damaged, like you see in wind and ice storms. In addition, they were way too big to have been broken by man. In general, we had discounted the broken tree stuff we had heard about in connection with Bigfoot/Sasquatch. But now, we had two strange instances we had found. The first was the twisted off scotch broom and now these. Were these in fact boundary markers? Both were on ridge lines. It was hard to say. Steve reconfirmed that he did not think the alder breaks were from storm damage or people.

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