Slide Show

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer on the water

Hoh River Canyon.

And then it was summer. 
The fog cleared long enough for the snowcapped Olympics to bask in the hot sun. A winters worth of snow began to melt all at once. 
You could hear it in the mountains roaring down the canyons making the creeks and rivers grow larger every day. It's not the greatest time to fish the river with the water rising fast and coloring up but you never know. 
The scenery of the rain forest in summer is worth the float.
You want to be careful when you are on the river and the water is high. The locals tend to head for the swimming holes once the temperature swelters above 65 and we don't want any accidents. Water safety is a matter of life and death around here. 
I can think of no better example than the bunch I saw on the Hoh River. We were floating downriver cursing our luck when we saw an attractive female standing on a beach.  She appeared unaware of our presence, a pretty young thing, lithe as a thoroughbred, with her cinnamon hair shining in the sun. 
It just so happened we were in one of my favorite fishing holes so I anchored up and threw out the gear. By then my sick fishing friend was ogling the sunbather with binoculars.  Even worse, they were my binoculars! 
Hoh River Rock Garden.
I couldn't get a good look. Just then two youngsters trotted out onto the sand.
“She looks a little young to have twins,” my know-it-all friend said adding, “I'll bet they had different fathers.” 
People can be so cruel and judgmental. I explained to the Cretin it's a common practice for one mother to babysit while another has lunch with her friends 
The mother waded out into the river like she was going to cross a busy street, which looked impossible for anything without gills.  
“Hoh” means “fast moving water” and here it looked like a giant washing machine with enough logs stuck in to make it fun. The youngsters just stood there looking at mom like she was an idiot so she waded back and walloped their butts into the river. 
“Some babysitter, “the chauvinist said. “Why would she try to cross the river in the rapids where the babies can drown?”
Upper Hoh River and Western Olympic Mountains
“Because of what's back in the woods, “I said, “lions and coyotes and bears.”  
Elk like to calve on flat ground. Mothers have to leave calves to feed. Predators cruise the river bottoms eating elk calves. That’s unless they have a good mom or a babysitter.
Just then we saw a coyote trot out of the brush. The coyote was still soaking wet from being in the river. 
This game had been going on for a while. Coyotes hunt in pairs and packs that drive the game into an ambush. Now they had the calf elk trapped on a gravel bar with the rapids on one side and a pack of coyotes on the other. 
The mother elk drove the babies into the river where they had to swim then turned and charged back into the brush like she was going to stomp a coyote. The baby elk made it across and stood shivering on the beach, bleating for mother who was nowhere to be seen. 
What could we do? What would you do? 
You better not do anything at all. Leave the baby animals alone. The mothers will be back. 
If it is a mother elk you had better be gone by then. Elk can stomp lions and coyotes and bears. 
What makes you think you're so tough?  

No comments:

Post a Comment