Nature Notes

Vol. II March-May 1987 No. 12



No not really, but therein lies an interesting story! About mid-summer, 1986, we received a report from visitors who had been hiking on the east side of the park. They had just returned from a trip to Yellowstone National Park, and there had been educated about grizzly bears. While hiking near Dewey Lake, on the Cascade Crest, they had seen, at a distance, a large, brown bear. It was not only large and brown, but appeared to have a hump over the shoulders, and also a lighter cape of long fur on the shoulders as well. One or two days later, Randy and Ann Brooks were hiking in the same general area, and also saw a larger, brown bear. Randy said that it was too far away to tell anything else, but it did appear to be big.

A call to the U.S. Forest Service yielded the information that there had been reports of a large, brown bear in the William O. Douglas Wilderness Area about 2 or 3 years ago. I then called a friend in the Washington Department of Game. He didn't know of any reports of grizzly bears, but did add that the grizzlies that had been definitely identified in Washington State tended to be smaller than in some other areas, and that this might be one.

The Mount Rainier Elk Chasers were dispatched to the area with instructions to look for a large, brown bear while they were looking for elk. John Scott and Roger Christophersen spent two days in the area, but encountered no bears at all.

A couple of weeks later, the park received a letter from a professor from the University of Washington. He had been hiking in the Dewey Lake area with several friends, and had also seen a large, brown bear. He and his companions were familiar with bears, and felt that this one had a shoulder hump and the bleached fur that are common to grizzlies. They were not able to get close enough for any photos, or positive identification, but they sure were curious about the critter.

Dave Uberuaga, the Park's Administrative Officer, happened to stop in on a Friday evening to say that he was taking his family for a hike to Dewey Lake the following day. He asked if there was anything that he should be on the lookout for. I said sure, look for a grizzly. Dave was first incredulous, then a bit concerned for the safety of his children, but he agreed to watch for bears.

On Saturday evening, Dave stopped in at the office to tell me that they had gone hiking to Dewey Lake as planned, and had indeed seen a big, brown bear. He had a camera with him, and had been able to get within 70 feet of the bear, and had taken its portrait. The film was promptly sent to be developed and printed. We anxiously awaited the pictures. When they came, sure enough there were several pictures of the big, brown bear. It certainly was big, brown, and a bear. However, it was just as certainly a brown phase of the American Black Bear.

End of mystery...End of story!

Stan Schlegel

from Origin of Geographic Names of Tacoma/Pierce County Washington by Gary Fuller Reese

CHRISTINE FALLS -- on the lower part of Van Trump Creek, formed where this creek approaches the main level of Nisqually Canyon. The falls were named by John Hayes of Yelm for Christine Louise Van Trump, daughter of P.B. Van Trump.

COLUMBIA CREST -- The name was suggested by H.E. Holmes of the Ingraham party in 1891. They had spent two nights in the crater and before leaving voted on a name for the highest part of the summit [of Mount Rainier], with Columbia Crest as the result. It has occasionally been called The Dome. By Stevens and Van Trump it was called Crater Peak, Elevation, 14,410 feet above sea level.

EMMONS GLACIER -- On the northeastern slope of Mount Rainier, this is the largest glacier on the mountain. For a long time it was called White Glacier because it gave rise to the river of that name. The river's name came from the glacial whiteness of its waters. The present name is in honor of S.F. Emmons, who with A.D. Wilson, made the second successful ascent of the mountain in 1870.

WINTHROP GLACIER -- lies on the northern slope of the mountain, where it head joins that of Emmons Glacier. It is named in honor of Theodore Winthrop, who passed close by the mountain in 1853 and recorded his observations in his book entitled "The Canoe and the Saddle."

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