Searching in Hell RoaringGood to be Back in the Woods
by Dan Hartman
May 11, 2013I've been wanting to hike Hell Roaring, but my injured foot has detered me from attempting the steep descent. Finally, Tuesday, I was able to get my shoe on so I was on my way.
A beaver fed at the Confluence. At Boulder a collared black wolf trotted beside the road.
I parked at the double pull offs below Hell Roaring and started down towards the river. After 500 yards or so I came to an old road cut. I followed this into the forest. fifty elk grazed just below me. Their heads came up at my approach and the whole herd stampeded pass me. A red-tail hawk circled low. I must me near its nest.
I stopped at a rotten stump and lifted a slab of rock that sat on top. Several rock fossels were hidden inside a depression. I found them years ago in the bank of the old road cut. After looking them over, I replaced them and covered them again with the flat rock.
Moving on, I reached a meadow dotted with aspens, surrounded by spruce and fir. A stream rippled through the middle. I examined a tall snag. It was the nest for a great gray owl family in 2009. Empty. Another old nest lay up slope. It was empty also. I moved out of the trees into the open. The elk had settled and were feeding again below me. A bull buggled off to the west. Strange. Usually when I hear buggling out of season, it means they're being attacked or under some kind of stress. I wanted to check it out, but my foot was already barking at me.
I heard tapping. A three-toed woodpecker was doing his mating rap. As I watched, the female flew in and they both flew to an aspen snag. There they began doing stuff. You know, just stuff. When they flew off, I walked over to the snag. There were two cavities. "A nice two story log cabin".
Reluctantly I returned to the forest. Last year I had found a hawk nest with chicks somewhere above where I now stood. Maybe owls had taken it over. I zigzagged upslope. I found a chunk of petrified wood. Finally I looked behind me. There was the nest. I had passed right under it. I glassed it. Empty.
By the time I reached the car, I was limping. Well, I didn't find anything, but it felt good to get back in the woods again.