Construction Journal Entry Week of 6/13/04

6/15-17/04 Bob Burton and I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

We had lunch at the 59er Diner and arrived at the property early in the afternoon. There was no frog in the gate lock. After moving in, we went up to the spring so I could tighten the union joints and so that Bob could see what I had done. While I was explaining my options for burying the rest of the water pipe, it occurred to me that the best option might be to lay the pipe right in the bottom of the creek bed as far as it went. By strategically placing stones in the creek, the water could be partially dammed up so that sediment would eventually cover the pipe completely and the stones would stop or even reverse the creek bed erosion. After that we had a look around the building so he could see what I had done since the last time he was there. The porch deck was new, the windows were new, and the back door was hung. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening talking. We had a lot to talk about and we had a very enjoyable conversation.

Wednesday morning we started out by doing some work. Bob used the planer on the bottom of the Grid B3 PSL while I worked on the window frame and the two bottom logs between Grid A3 and B3. It was pretty hot work so we took a break for a drink. Since I had forgotten to bring drinks, we drove to the Parkside Grocery and bought some pop. I also bought a book on squirrel identification.

Back at the trailer, we had lunch and decided to drive up to the viewpoint above the property. We spent quite a bit of time up there trying to identify some of the landmarks on our property, but the trees were just too thick to see anything recognizable. I told Bob that I had thought of buying some helium balloons and having a string of them float high above each corner of the property. Then we would be able to see the property lines from up on the viewpoint.

We walked over to a little knoll above the viewpoint and were trying to see some yellow bird. All of a sudden, we started hearing the cracking of big timber. I thought a big snag had finally given way and was about to fall, but there wasn't any crash. Instead, the cracking sound would go for a while and then stop. It repeated several times this way and I told Bob I thought it was a bear tearing a rotten tree apart. It sounded like it was only half a block or so away so while Bob stood in one place trying to see what it was, I worked my way down to an abandoned roadbed that lead in the direction of the sound. I only took a step when the crunching was going on and stood quiet between crunches.

In a couple minutes, we heard a sharp loud cry, and then the pattern of cracking wood started up again. I thought maybe a bear had torn into the den of a coyote or bobcat and the scream was the animal being killed. I kept up the pattern of moving toward the sound until I could begin to see through the foliage and down the slope where the cracking sound was coming from. Then the cracking sound stopped and I just stood in the silence wondering what to do. I felt pretty vulnerable and I felt like the bear was watching me, so I slowly started walking backward as quietly as I could. When I got halfway to the pickup, I walked a little more briskly and felt safe once Bob and I were both back in the pickup. We started driving back down the mountain agreeing that we had definitely witnessed something but we didn't know what.

Then as we came around the bend just below where we had heard the sound, Bob saw what he thought was a big black dog in the road. The thing immediately bounded across the road and down the bushy slope on the other side. I just caught a glimpse of it as it went into the bushes. Bob said that he clearly saw that it was a young bear. Our best guess is that the mother of the cub was tearing up a tree and the cub did something that required some kind of discipline from his mother and that was the scream we heard. It would be interesting to know exactly what had happened. Or better yet, to have seen it.

Shortly after we got back, Earl stopped by and the three of us had a pleasant chat in the cabin. We talked about bears, pack rats, varnish, freezing creeks and other topics that came to mind.

Bob and I did a lot more talking that evening, and on Thursday morning, we decided to go back up to the same area and do some hiking. We talked to some woodcutters who were working in the area and told them about the bear. They were not surprised. We explored two old logging roads but didn't see any more bears. We found a stream, saw one snake, and got to a good viewpoint from which we could see Glacier Peak. It was a beautiful day and we had a very enjoyable walk, and of course did quite a bit more talking. One of our objective was to have a good discussion of "Straw Dogs" which both of us had recently read. After hearing each other's opinions, I think we pretty much agreed that the author is too pessimistic and didn't make his case.

We drove back to the trailer, had lunch, and left for home at about 1:30.

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