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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostFri Aug 27, 2021 9:47 am 
I recently climbed Rock Mountain (Hwy 2) using the western end of the Nason Ridge trail to approach instead of the normal Snowy Creek trail. We got a lot more exercise that way and a chance to explore that little used trail. It was hard to follow in spots and without GPS to reclocate it we might have turned around. But this post is about two mysterious things that Bryan and I have never seen before.

Nason Ridge trail, western end
Nason Ridge trail, western end

1) Bundles of fresh greens set out around trees

At only one spot on the trail there were small bundles of fresh greens laid out around a couple trees as if to dry them. As I said above, this trail gets very little use, maybe just a few ambitious bikers doing the whole Nason Ridge trail from end-to-end (we saw bicycle tracks). I doubt it's someone playing a prank. Is there an animal that dries and stores greens like this? It was a mature hemlock forest and not the typical terrain where you'd expect Pikas or Marmots. It was striking that the stems were all aligned, not just a bunch of greens collected in a pile.

Bundles
Bundles
Closeup
Closeup

2) Tree notches

This one was obviously done by humans but why? A dead tree had at least four big notches cut into it, clearly done with an axe or hatchet. A couple of the notches had nails still sticking out. The highest notch was way out of reach so it must have been cut during the winter. The nails suggest a sign was there, but there's no junction or special need for a sign at this spot on the trail. The lower ones are smaller but could not be used as steps to climb on. What were these for?

Four notches in dead tree
Four notches in dead tree
Closeup of highest notch
Closeup of highest notch

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moonspots
Happy Curmudgeon



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moonspots
Happy Curmudgeon
PostFri Aug 27, 2021 10:00 am 
puzzlr wrote:
The nails suggest a sign was there, but there's no junction or special need for a sign at this spot on the trail.

Quite a puzzle, "puzzlr".  hockeygrin.gif

I'm going to guess that the nail(s) were to hold a horizontal step in place....maybe?

But overall, I don't have an honest clue. I'll watch this one to see what ideas turn up.

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"Out, OUT you demons of Stupidity"! - St Dogbert, patron Saint of Technology
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CC
cascade curmudgeon



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CC
cascade curmudgeon
PostFri Aug 27, 2021 10:05 am 
Notches were probably for pine martin traps.  Don't usually see multiple notches in the same tree though.

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No matter how cynical you become, it's not enough to keep up.  Jane Wagner/Lily Tomlin
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John_B
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PostFri Aug 27, 2021 10:24 am 
Mountain beaver will cut and dry greenery before they drag it down into their burrows.  Such a weird little critter.

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zephyr
aka friendly hiker



Joined: 21 Jun 2009
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zephyr
aka friendly hiker
PostFri Aug 27, 2021 10:33 am 
John_B wrote:
Mountain beaver will cut and dry greenery before they drag it down into their burrows.  Such a weird little critter.

I saw a Mountain beaver once on the way to Ollalie and Pratt Lake.  It was gathering bunches of greens near one of those boardwalks over a creek.  First and only time I have seen one.  He looked really industrious and not too concerned with me.  That was my first thought when I saw the pictures posted above.  ~z

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Bronco
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Bronco
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PostFri Aug 27, 2021 10:46 am 

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Kim Brown
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PostFri Aug 27, 2021 10:59 am 
I wonder if the pine marten traps were done in different years according to snow level...?

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" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
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Kim Brown
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PostFri Aug 27, 2021 11:20 am 
Puzzlr did you see blazes on the trees? There were several, but over the years those trees are toppling..

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" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostFri Aug 27, 2021 12:28 pm 
Kim, blazes along that trail were helpful in confirming the route in places. We started keeping our eyes peeled for them.

CC -- I don't know anything about trapping, so following your hint, and in this Pine Marten article I learned their preferred nesting sides are hollow trees with holes in them. The holes behind these notches seem a little large, but that is a likely answer.

John_B & zephyr -- It's hard to get relevant Google search results with words like "dry" "greens" "animal" etc so I got nowhere on my own. But given your hint, this Mountain Beaver article has a photo exactly like what we saw (expand the sections). If we knew this ahead of time I bet we could have found a burrow nearby.

Thanks to all you nwhikers out there. We all benefit so much for sharing here.

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zephyr
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zephyr
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PostFri Aug 27, 2021 1:29 pm 
You're welcome.

Try searching with DuckDuckGo.  You will get plenty of results. (also using Firefox browser if that makes any difference.)     You can see how focused this little guy is and not too concerned about humans watching.  That was similar to my experience.   ~z


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timberghost
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PostMon Aug 30, 2021 7:20 am 
One has to remember that a lot of trails in the Cascades were created by trappers. I had 2 close family friends that were avid trappers in the Sky area and had many trap lines where hiking trails are now located.

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