Nature Notes

Vol. XI April - 1933 No. 2

A 'Snag' At Eve

I was hiking back to Mowich Lake, my ranger station in Mount Rainier National Park one cold and rainy October day. I had been at headquarters to testify against a party that had violated a park rule.

Thirty-two miles of mountainous country lay between me and my cabin, across three ridges and four rivers, climbing to an elevation of 5,400 feet and dropping down to 2,500 feet. I would make the Sunset patrol cabin the first day, a distance of twenty miles.

Nine miles out I stopped at an old shake cabin along side of the trail, built a fire, had lunch and dried out my wet clothing. I could afford to spend time in waiting for the storm to let up which had come up and was increasing in velocity.

ranger hiking

I sat by the fire for two hours, but the storm showed no signs of letting up so I decided to start out. I would just have time now to make the patrol cabin before dark, where I had a cache of grub and blankets that are always left there in case of an emergency such as this was.

About three miles from Sunset Park and hiking up the last stretch, wringing wet, darkness falling fast, and the rain turning to snow on reaching the high elevation, I heard two shots and what sounded like a man yelling; Bang! Bang! Yo Ho!

I stopped, wondering if it was imagination, listened for a few minutes but heard nothing more than the wind whistling through the tree tops and the crashing of a falling tree in the distance. Satisfying myself that it was just imagination I hiked on for time was valuable. I was now in fourteen inches of fresh snow. I hadn't gone far when I heard the noise again. Bang! Bang! Yo Ho! There was no mistake now, it was in the direction of Sunset Park, where someone had crossed the line and were hunting deer, for deer are quite numerous here.

My pace quickened, I was now planning the best method of attack, and fearing I would arrive on the scene of battle too late and the poachers would make it back across the line. Bang! Bang! Yo Ho! Again I heard the noise. I was only five hundred feet from it now, but why I wondered, does the sound come from exactly the same direction, and with the same succession? At this point I left the trail and headed straight for the noise. I had forgotten all about the storm, darkness, and hunger. I was now running up hill.

Bang! Bang! Yo Ho! The noise was just above me now and I looked up, there was my hunting party. A dry snag was lodged in a black hemlock tree, the worn off short knots of the sang were rubbing against a big limb on the hemlock causing the shooting noise and the yell was made by the smooth surface of the snag.

To make a long story short I arrived at the patrol cabin just as darkness was closing in, cooked up a supper of rice and beans, and thoroughly enjoyed myself by the small cook stove with a magazine while the storm raged outside.

The next day the storm cleared away and I resumed my hike to Mowich Lake and home sweet home.

I never am out in the woods in a storm that my mind doesn't wander back to that weird evening and one of the most disappointed moments of my life.

ranger cabin
ranger cabin

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