Iíve been busy with college groups over the last week. Longwood brought 40 students and Clemson 8. Clemson in particular did quite a bit of hiking with me as we explored Pebble Creek, the Beartooths and Sunlight Basin. First off, we determined the mysterious den with fresh vegetation to be a pack rat nest. The great gray owl above Pebble Creek did abandon her nest. Other forays searching for owls were fruitless. We did have a lot of fun though, especially when a snowshoe hare that one of the kids was sneaking up on, suddenly sprung at her.
Our grizzly returned yesterday. It caused quite a stir as it paraded by summer homes, then circled town to visit the old carcass on the north slope.
Two weeks have gone by since my encounter with the grizzly in sunlight Basin. I figured it was safe fro me to return and try to find the old goshawk nest I had started for on that harrowing afternoon.
I approached from the opposite direction this time so I wouldnít have to traverse as much timber. It was about 6:30 in the evening when I entered the trees. I scanned the forest for fresh bear beds and was encouraged when I found none. As I climbed out of a steep ravine, I came across something encouraging. Beneath a large Doug fir were a dozen white wash splashes accompanied by owl pellets. This is what I call a perch tree. A spot the male owl has chosen near the nest to hang out. Since the goshawk nest is nearby, I was excited!
As I moved through the trees gazing up into the highest branches, I had to remind myself to be bear aware. Even so I had all but forgotten about the grizz when a horrible smell hit me. I remembered that odor. Itís permanently impressed in my brain! I stopped and took a quick look around. Fifteen feet away lay a huge bear scat. Droppings quickly get a dark color as they dry, this was still green and wet. I inspected it closely. No hair, just grass. At least there is not a carcass. Even so, I was going to have to vacate the area.
As I climbed down slope towards by car, I snapped a branch on a fallen log. Instantly I heard a thump above me. Time to go! I hurried out into the open, then back to my car.
I still havenít found the nest. It is frustrating because the signs are good for a great gray.
Whatís keeping this grizz here? There doesnít seem to be a carcass.