Sunday, January 22, 2006

More backcountry adventures with M.A.H.

Middle Aged Housewife. Get it? Mah? Like 'Ma'?
Golly, I am a rambunctious retard.
My husband is the worlds best breakfast chef. This is a man who understands his complex carbohydrates. I just sat down to a plate of biscuits and gravy with eggs that you'd have been happy to pay 20.00 for. Jesus. I love this man. Then he does the dishes afterwards. I suppose I'll have to let him watch the Seahawks later and just keep my mouth shut.
Whenever we've taken camping vacations we made our breakfasts in camp. Usually Rq (husband person man, *fanfare*) makes the main part and I help with the auxilliary chopping and washing and stowing. We eat like royalty. Imagine two big grubby trolls cooking over a fire in a pavillion, rain just hammering down on all sides, making hollandaise sauce and chopping chives.
When I used to go rambling on my own I ate pretty well too. Here in the forest there are thousands of good things to eat, including a wild apple-maybe it's a domestic variety that went wild-that tastes like roses and honey. Blackberries everywhere. I taught the evil dogs to pick their own salmonberries and they became very adept at lipping them off the shrubs and stuffing themselves. Then they'd burp for the rest of the day and smell each others breath when it happened...(Oh dang, you made that noise again!' 'Yeah, now I taste berries.' 'Yup, smells like berries.' Oh wow, I did it again! And I taste berries again!' 'Yup, smells like berries too! Dang!') The apple trees, in fact, are where I got my first clue that perhaps I was not altogether alone in the woods. Usually one of these trees are surrounded by a circle of neat grass like a lawn, even though the tree itself might be canopied with blackberry vines and fallen fir branches. Deer love apples and they keep their secret apple garden well tended by nibbling. You can find tidy little pathways through the tangle leading to every tree if you have a quick eye. Then you can stand underneath and pick apples and be perfectly hidden and have a feast. I was doing this one day, happily munching hot apples I'd shaken from the top of the tree with juice running down my face and shirt and both arms, when I noticed the rankest stench. I had stepped in a giant pile, and I mean a GIANT pile of gleaming shit. If you've ever taken a crap in the woods you have the picture. I'm thinking 'Oh Jesus, how nasty; some fisherman just took a dump here like a big ol' dog and didn't even kick it out of the way. Thanks, shithook.' Scraping off my shoe in the grass I began to notice certain details that lead me away from my initial judgement, though. It was full of pin cherry pips. And apple seeds. And long, black, coarse hairs. And rabbit bones and hair and teeth. That brought me up short. I looked around at the well trampled grass, and the apple fragments scattered about, and the conspicuous lack of toilet paper or gas station wipes, and the light came on over my lil' head. Aha. bears.
Recent bears.
And so, being a safety conscious type of person I stopped to load up my shirt and my pockets and my jacket with apples, and then wandered back to my car with my dogs spazzing around me. 'Car! Oh boy, Car! I love Car! We're going somewhere!' I am so surprised that the fucking bear wasn't waiting for me with the engine running so he could take my wallet, looking back at this incident. Yoo hoo, beaaars, here comes the walking loin of housewife a la pommes frais!
Another time I was up above the snowline, walking through a clearcut throwing sticks for the evil dogs. They were way out ahead of me. Their version of stick is, I throw the stick, they compete with each other to find the stick, and the one who wins chews up the stick into splinters while the other one smells its ass. I ranged up around the far end of the cut and followed my tracks back down. My tracks were the only tracks crossing the field, until I found the other tracks braided around them. Facing the same direction. Crossing my tracks again and again. I don't know why, but that still gives me the willies...crossing my tracks.
Wolf tracks.
Not coyote tracks. Definitely canid. Dogs walk with their toenails always out, making a dot over each toe mark. heres the scale:
my dogs
normal dogs, coyotes, labs, goldies
I went and looked this up at the library. It was no joke. I never saw the bastard and I never heard it either.
One more wild animal story. Walking along a logging road on Mt. Baker, I pause by a broken off snag to see if there's any visible bird holes up in there...I'm sort of casually birdwatching, I have my binocs and my field guide, the evil dogs are with me, off barking at skunk cabbages and eating frogs. So I take a good look at this snag, I walk all around it making kissy noises, hoping I'll make a baby bird poke out its head. No go. I note a sudden, strong aroma of cow barn. I think 'Hm. cows.' And I wander away down the road.
Returning later, I note that all the bark is missing off the snag to a height of six feet. On closer inspection, I note four parallel rents cut deep into the wood running the length of the trunk, about 2 inches between each groove. And a steaming pile of(what I now know is) Bear Shit.
BIG bear shit.
Aggressive male bear shit marking his territory. This according to the books I lived to read. Interesting to note as well; bears smell a lot like cows. But they have to be quite close indeed for you to be able to smell them. Yay!
Once again, the idiot dogs were absolutely no help whatsoever. They would stand and bark at a skunk cabbage like posessed maniacs but when it came to dangerous forest carnivores, fucking forget it. "Oh hey, bear dude, no problem. Whatever you gotta do, man. Yeah...I guess she's single...why?"

1 comment:

  1. Oh man. Proof that bears do indeed shit in the woods. I'd be v. v. freaked if a wolf crossed my path. Though it would be v. v. cool.