The photo above reminds me of a Monet painting of water, but in fact it’s part of the miracle that happened for me today.
You might remember that yesterday I was going to hike to the Dosewallips River in the morning but got seriously sidetracked instead, all morning, by two Elk herds in the campground. Eventually, the Elk walked south out of the campground (as they had the first day I was here) and we humans were able to return to our regular lives. I had lunch at my picnic table along with a couple of nice neighbor campers I’d been chatting with, and then I hiked a mile or so on trails through the woods northwest of the campground and then out of the trees and down to the edge of the Dosewallips River.
The photo above was my view to the northwest, up the “Dose” (you remember DOUGH-SEE, right?). What a pretty day! But my gosh this place smelled bad, like dead fish! And that’s when it dawned on me … it’s autumn, this river feeds into the saltwater of Puget Sound, there are dead fish everywhere (LOTS of dead fish everywhere) … it’s a salmon-spawning river and they are spawning! Holy smokes! It never occurred to me!
And then I looked at the water and sure enough, hundreds and hundreds of “pinks” were spawning, splishing and splashing, finding a spot right here or heading up river. How amazing!
Why this was a miracle for me was that I’d been raised right here in the Pacific Northwest since I was 11 years old, and that was a lot of years ago. Let’s just say it was more than 55 years ago, let’s just say that. And in all those years here, I’d never seen salmon spawn even though this part of the country is famous for its salmon runs.
I hadn’t planned to come here at this time of year in order to see the salmon, I had hoped only to see a few Elk at a distance. But look at this, will you? Real spawning salmon!
They sure were ugly. “Pinks” change the shape of their head/snout and the shape of their body during spawning. They are ferocious looking (enlarge the photo above and the one below). They spawn, and then they die, and then they smell really bad. But what a miracle!
Here are two videos below that I posted on YouTube. Once the video starts, you can click on “settings” (the little gear thingy in the lower right) and increase the quality of the video, tho that will slow down loading time.
I didn’t stay by the river for very long. It smelled so bad. And I got to wondering about bear and whether they might be in the area because there were so many fish.
A Ranger told me later that the bear are much further upriver catching more fish than they can eat, and that the bear don’t come down off the mountains until the middle of winter. Nevertheless, it seemed time to head back to my trailer and spend the remainder of the afternoon reading or chatting with the neighbors or investigating the campground itself.
Ha! I couldn’t get back to my truck/trailer! The Elk were back, yet again, and were strewn across the campground such that we were told not to cross their paths either on foot or by car/truck. I found an empty cabin (they have little cabins there you can rent) and sat myself down on the porch and took photos and waited, and waited, and waited.
Some of the Elk came fairly close to my little cabin. Oh, by the way, the photo above reminds me that I have been using the incorrect terms for male and female Elk. Male Elk are bulls and female Elk are cows.
Some just wandered on past without even noticing me.
Lots of little ones were out and about.
Another young “spike”.
By and by, I thought there was enough of an opening between some of the Elk that I could get through them safely, so I walked slowly down off the porch and took a few steps slowly but steadily towards my truck and trailer. Three large females looked up and walked very purposefully directly at me with heads up in the air … ok, I’m very happy to go back to my porch, yes siree, I do love that porch, it is my favoritest place to be! I didn’t even turn around to go back, just put myself in reverse and kept my eye on those cows and got back on that porch. The three cows stopped then, but continued to stare at me for several moments.
And then this happened. Here are two videos, again that I posted on YouTube. The first starts just a few seconds after the big alpha bull bugled at a younger bull and chased him away (chased him over by my trailer!). And the second video shows the alpha bull turning around and walking back to his alpha cow. Lots of activity hereabouts!
Well, ok then, maybe getting to my truck and trailer was not something that was high on my list of things to accomplish right then. I guess I better figure out Plan B! 🙂
What I did was climb off the far side of the porch, north of where the Elk were and then walk north through the campground. It was on my list to explore the original campground anyway which was on the other side of Highway 101, but I had thought I would do that tomorrow. I guess I’ll do that today! In fact, I think it’s a very good day to do that. Funny me, why would I think I might want to go back to my trailer. Ha!
So off I went, through the underpass (photo below) that goes under Highway 101 to the other part of the campground. I’ll report on my adventures out there in the next post. And I’ll let you know if I ever did get back to my trailer or if I’m still wandering around looking for a home.
If you’re interested, here’s a map of the Dosewallips State Park campground. The fish spawning area is in the upper left. My campsite is where the red X is. The green wavy line is where the Elk were all spread out such that I couldn’t get back to my trailer. The big green blob is the cabin porch I used for awhile. And the big red arrow at the top of the map points to the underpass where you can walk or drive to the older part of the campground that runs right along the river.
I’ll write more about the rest of this map and what it all means in the next post. I sure don’t lack for adventure and fun do I! I always think I’m going to spend quite a bit of time just sitting and reading and such while I’m out camping. I wonder if that will ever happen.