Wednesday, August 12, 2009

mystery solved

Last July Panda and I embarked on a relatively easy and not very scenic hike up to Quartz Creek, part of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie hikes that are pretty much closed off this year due to flood damage on the roads and a bridge wash out.

The Quartz Creek trail is so named as it's an old logging road up to the quartz mines that are no longer in operation, although there are still opportunities for finding the rocks but you have to obtain permission as they are on private land. Once the Quartz Creek trail ends, the Rooster Mountain logging road begins and for more of a hike we decided to follow it up.

We began to hear what sounded to me like a deep, underwater gurgling. It was faint, and in the distance so although we were a bit concerned we didn't let it sway us from continuing up. The sound followed us and would come in three short bursts "oooh oooh ooooh". I had never heard anything like it.

Hikes with Panda, and well a friendship with Panda in general, was usually filled with stories and superstitions, brushes with spirits and exaggerations of adventures. This one was no different and feelings of a sort of "spirit hiker" came over both of us and we discussed what we had seen following us up the trail while we continued up towards Rooster Mountain on a trail that was grown over, dark and damp. Perfect for ghost stories.

We went about a mile, and hadn't heard the sound for a bit, but then all the sudden the sound came over us, so loud that my heart stopped. My eyes wide I looked over at Panda who had grabbed the pellet gun that we had begun carrying on our hikes out of his pack. We scanned the forest, and slowly backed our way back down the trail until we were at a point where we could book it back down to the end of the Quartz Creek trail.

Once out of the forest and into the bright sunlight we took a breath, laughed and even took the time to stop for a while and take some pictures of a really interesting spider on a flower. We hypothesized what it could had been...maybe even bigfoot? Who knows, all I remember is that on our hikes that summer I was always listening for that sound and always worried about what was lurking out there in the woods. I never heard the sound again...

Until today. It was a freaking bird. Yup, that's right...I ran from a freaking bird. A sooty grouse, to be specific. Their call can be heard from up to 1/2 a mile away, and it scared the crap out of me.

I wonder if they taste good roasted :)

In any case, take a listen here.

And apparently when the Press Party heard a grouse they thought it was a geyser, the name persists in the Geyser Valley in the Upper Elwah in the Olympic Mountains.

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