Tons of wet snow dropping from tall trees, falling snags, and wire-wrecking winds are enough to give a Park lineman, with some fifty miles of mountain telephone line to keep in operation during the winter, all the exercise he needs. Yes, that is a plenty, but it is not all. Even the animals seem to be in league with the weather in interrupting the lines of communication.
Twice during the winter the Lineman's report has contained accounts of important lines being put temporarily out of service by wild animals. Once it was deer. A deer stops for nothing short of sudden death, once it is frightened. At Tahoma Creek the line sagged low - as lines in the woods must - and a deer ran into it and broke it in two.
The next time it was a bear. All he did was to step on it where it paralleled the river bank. One step was enough, even an insulated duplex wire would not carry bruin's five hundred pounds of beef. The lineman is watching the squirrels now, "they might eat the nuts off the stay-bolts".
On April 23rd Chief Ranger Barnett found the remains of a white mountain goat at the foot of Cougar Rock. For several years a small band of these sure-footed animals have wintered on the barren face of the great cliff which stands more than a thousand feet above the road near Longmire Springs. Three of four animals had been observed at various times on the cliff.
One of these animals was killed and eaten by bears and coyotes. New Ranger Barnett did not say that the bears or coyotes had killed the goat, he said that they had eaten all the carcass with the exception of the horns and hoofs. Mr. Barnett is of the opinion that the goat fell from the cliff, which is not likely, was pushed off a falling rock or small avalanche of snow or was caught in the deep snow at the foot of the cliff and killed by a hungry bear while held helpless there. At any rate, the bears, at least three by the sign, and a whole flock of coyotes had a fine feast. Apparently the tragedy had occurred about a week before it was discovered.
While a few restless individuals were about early in April, the bear season did not open officially until May 1st. On that date "Jimmy", the leader of the younger-set (of bears) in the vicinity of Longmire Springs, made his spring debut. Jimmy is a wild bear, but still Jimmy is not wild. He is a typical "camp bear" - a bear that had discovered that man is not a mortal enemy and that the vicinity of man's abode is a happy hunting ground. In other words, Jimmy has discovered the garbage cans at the cook house and once a bear acquires the habit of raiding garbage cans he is a hopeless addict.
"Abundant in the moist woods of the lower forests is the little Calypso, (Calypso Bulbosa) or "lady's slipper orchid". So said the books, but we did not believe them, for after living five years among "the moist woods of the lower forests" we had never seen a growing Calypso. Then one spring we happened to be exploring some of the darkest moistest woods in the vicinity of Longmire Springs and we discovered that the books were right.
It was mid-May and the snow had not long been gone from the moss-covered floor of the forest. In a small depression, the bed of a former stream, we found masses of the beautiful mauvish-pink slippers with their oval leaves and purple streamers. Each year now we find them in great abundance, but there are still Park residents who have never seen one and very few Park visitors know of their existence. But if you know exactly when and where to look they can be found in abundance. NOW is the "when", but the "where" is not so easy to describe.
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