Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 802 | TRs
Location: The Quah
|It was a usual early up-an-at-em start for us (2:45 at the trailhead!). We were very surprised by the lack of cars around the Dungeness area for a Saturday....was there something in the weather report that we didn't know about? No cars at the Tubal Cain trailhead - curious . We headed out under cloudy skies to the familiar cadence of a rough grouse. (Read LucBurson's NF Quinault report for details here.) We quickly blasted the 3.5 miles to Tubal Cain, noticing a fresh layer of snow not present last week.
Tull Canyon Creek
We crossed Copper Creek and headed up the switchbacks towards Buckhorn Lake junction, pleasantly surprised by the lack of snow.
Jeremy at Copper Creek crossing
Tisha and whippets on switchbacks
Jeremy, being the biology freak that he is, noticed that as we ascended into the sub-alpine territory that the frequent drums of the male grouse changed from the "thumping" of the rough grouse to the "whumping" of the blue grouse. He had never seen a grouse calling before, but since they seemed so active he hoped he might witness one today.
The brief patches of snow were easily negotiable until just before the junction. There, we ended up side-hilling a steep, snowy area before heading back up to the trail and the junction now labeled with a handy sign. We headed down from there into the bowl that contains Buckhorn lake. As soon as the path entered the trees, it was swallowed by steep snow. We trudged past the first creek crossing, and the way became less obvious when we came to the second creek. From our first visit last summer, we remembered that the trail follows the creek down to the lake, so we followed the second creek downstream. It quickly became obvious to Tisha that this was not the right way, while Jeremy took a bit longer to convince. Once we retraced our steps, we encountered a third creek that was indeed the way down to the lake. The lake was completely frozen except for the small inlet area.
It's cold, says Rowena
While enjoying delicious snacks, the clouds miraculously parted for awhile, giving us a much better view of the surrounding peaks.
We were chilling down quickly, so we retraced our steps back up to the main trail. We were rewarded with some spectacular views of the clouds rolling back up the creek valley.
Here comes the clouds
Clouds coming up Copper Creek
Lots of clouds coming
One of the "Buckhorn" Peaks
Clouds are quickly filling the valley!
What are you humans doing?
Now that clouds covered us again, there was nothing left to do but head home.
Suddenly, Tisha stopped on the trail and pointed to an object about a 100 feet downhill. "Is that a grouse?" Sure enough, a large male blue grouse was swelling his orange throat sack in order to "whump, whump, whump, whump" to the females. Jeremy found it fascinating how different it was to the breast beating of the rough grouse. After a couple of calls, it fanned out it tail feathers and began "strutting" cross the hillside. This enamoured our whippets who decided its call was too alluring to resist. After the grouse flew to the safety of a tree, we all headed down to the car.
Blue grouse "whumping"
Now, for the suicide bunnies. As we were driving along the Dungeness road back home, dreaming of our Cinco de Mayo margaritas, a rabbit jumped out in front of the truck and began zig-zagging right in front of us, daring us to hit it. We hit the brakes and spoiled his plans. He would have to find another poor sap to be his unwilling accomplice.
(Feel free to correct us on peak names...we're still getting to know the Olympics )
"Forest 101: These big wood stick things are called trees. The big rocks are called mountains, and the little rocks are their babies." Elliott from Open Season