Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Yep, we’re still only on day three.
Exploration of the Interrorem Cabin and a hike out the Ranger Hole Trail this morning was followed by lunch back at the trailer and a little nap in my anti-gravity chair.
I used to say “…and then I read for a bit after lunch.” But I had to stop saying that when friends of mine snapped a photo of me “reading” … the book was on the floor and my chin was on my chest and I was sound asleep. So now I just admit that I had a nap. 🙂
Refreshed from the nap, I jumped in the big white truck and this time headed north on Highway 101. The highway turns inland and runs through beautiful forested and rocky foothills of the Olympic Mountains.
Photo above is Highway 101 not too far south of the town of Quilcene.
My first destination this afternoon was the US Forest Service Ranger Station at Quilcene. Rumor had it they had maps that were not available online and I found out that’s true! I collected everything I could get about the area. Everything was free except one map (the best one) which was a whole whopping $5. I walked out of there with a bundle of great information. I also learned lots of interesting stuff from the Ranger herself.
On my way north heading towards Quilcene, I had seen a sign pointing to Point Whitney Tidelands and Lagoon. So on my way back south, I followed that sign down that side road and discovered a lovely gravel, saltwater, beach right on the edge of Hood Canal.
The sign above out at the beach was quite confusing to me at first. I kept thinking the blue area was water. Silly me! Actually, the blue area is land … and the white area is water. What troubled mind would color the land blue?
It was a public beach with clams and oysters (some info here) as well as a research center and shellfish “seed” plant run by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. The physical plant had been built by the Washington (State) Department of Fish and Wildlife but had been abandoned by the state in about 2002. Excellent video of the current operation is here.
For readers who are not familiar with shellfish of the pacific northwest, the fellows in that second video link talk about “gooey-ducks”. They aren’t discussing ducks. They are talking about a particular kind of clam. The word is spell “geoduck”, but all of us pronounce it gooey-duck. Kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it. Ok, maybe painting the land blue in that map doesn’t sound too weird, come to think of it. 🙂
The Interpretive Center was closed so it’s on my list for a visit some other time. You readers with a sharp eye will see the reflection of me in my truck in the building’s window.
The State of Washington WDFW building was sizable but I saw no activity there even though it was the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday. The only vehicle on site was that blue pickup truck with a flat tire. I suppose the state had abandoned this building as well.
I enjoyed a nice long beach walk since the day was so gorgeous.
Photos above and below are looking NE (above) and straight north (below), at the southern end of Bolton Peninsula. I have been by here in my boat on two different cruises down Hood Canal so it was fascinating to see the area from land too. What a pretty corner of the world!
And then it was late afternoon and time to head back to Dosewallips State Park and my trailer. Thought I might like to just sit a spell and read my book before dinner, think of that!
But that was not to be ….
I got distracted again ….
Just a hundred yards or so north of the turn into the State Park, a sign beside the road mentioned a helicopter landing area and access to a clam beach. How could I pass that up? There was a huge grassy area that a helicopter could land in during emergencies, probably mostly medical emergencies I would suppose.
The geese, however, must have figured that humans created that open space just for them. It was a “landing” zone after all. Is that goose with the yellow beak a gray goose? Does anyone know? It seemed there was only one of them there that day.
Which reminds of me the Tennessee Ernie Ford song “Cry of the Wild Goose” from my childhood. It’s a cool song for those who feel a bit of wanderlust. Being retired is wonderful … you have time to think about all this nonsense. 🙂
There was a small parking area and these signs in the far corner of the landing area. One pickup truck with camper was already there. I parked and headed on foot out the very wide, nicely kept path towards the beach.
The beach was actually a LONG walk out. This wildlife viewing platform appeared first. The two people from that pickup camper were up there. We all waved and said hi and so I climbed the stairs and joined them.
Turns out they were on their way home, north to Victoria, BC, Canada, having been camping for a month along the coast in California and Oregon. They had one extra day so decided to stop at Dosewallips State Park for one night and then take the ferry from Port Angeles, WA, to Victoria, BC, tomorrow. They had heard about Elk sometimes being in the area but figured they wouldn’t see any. Ha! Did we see Elk! AGAIN!
The Elk were all over the grasslands between the viewing platform and the beach. We counted them as best we could and came up with 48 Elk which meant that probably two herds were there.
Turn your speakers on and turn the sound up before you start the video below. The alpha bull bugles! It’s a higher pitched sound than I thought it would be.
The bull was about 20 feet from the viewing platform, on the opposite side of the platform from the path thank goodness. You’ll also hear what I call “mewing” sounds in the video — those are the cows.
After the bugling and mewing, the cows headed in from the grassland. They didn’t move quickly, but they were definitely on the move in the direction of that alpha bull.
The three of us humans on the viewing platform were so engrossed by the alpha bull and the cows that we did not pay any attention to what was going on near the path behind us. But the woman from Canada eventually turned around to look at the path back to our vehicles and said “oh oh”.
The other two of us turned around and saw two other bulls, each one about six feet from the path on one side of the path, and two cows, each about ten feet from the path on the other side of the path. We were boxed in!
Not the alpha bull above, but a bull nonetheless right beside the path to our trucks.
The three of us talked about how to get back to our vehicles and decided we didn’t dare try until the Elk had moved through, which could take hours. Each of us checked our cell phones .. no coverage. We really were stuck and it was after 6pm and getting colder.
I’ve joked about being in a predicament in past posts in this blog. Those have all been written with a wee bit of humor.
This, however, was no joke. We stood (and sat and stood and sat) on that viewing platform for over an hour. The man from Canada did walk down the steps of the platform once and walked not even five feet from the platform but the alpha bull immediately headed towards him with head in the air and nostrils flaring. The Canadian fellow took the stairs two at a time back up to the platform!
What saved our bacon eventually were four more humans. We could hear them coming along the path through the trees and tried to think of a way to warn them. When they appeared out in the open, in front of them, on a leash, was a dog. The Elk here are very much afraid of dogs, which may remind them of wolves. When the Elk saw and/or caught wind of that dog, those Elk scattered! And the three of us hurried off that platform and scurried back in through the woods to our trucks.
We got back to the campground just a few minutes before 8pm. Dinner was a little late that evening.
Another great adventure, eh? More than I thought I would have this day. And more Elk sightings and encounters too. And more wonderful people. And a long walk on a perfect, quintessential, pacific northwest beach. And a great trip to the Ranger Station in Quilcene. I suppose I could just sit outside my trailer and read, but where would the excitement be in that?