I'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.