Sunday, July 18, 2010

part 7 - Olympic forest

            The Olympic Forest - new growth
Lake Crescent, as I saw it through the lens, reflected off the mirror and now seen on your computer screen
After a half hour ferry ride I was smack dab on the Olympic peninsula. This would be the start of the journey I was most excited about, so my nips were banging with anticipation. From the small town of Kingston I followed the 101 hwy driving slow so I could check everything out. It eventually started to feel like bigfootland. The forest was painted with greens and browns. The moss was big, fluffy and out of control. Large animal trails could be seen crossing the highway everywhere. I was convinced that this place would offer my best chance of seeing a squatchy-poo!
I couldn't of been more psyched then when I rounded the bend and came upon the whimsical Lake Crescent! From a distance all I saw was a huge bright turquoise lake. I would be lying if I said that I didn't get a little teary eyed. I barely cry ever, because I'm such a moped driving man, but traveling through this area I felt as though I've been there before and I was too overwhelmed and just let the tears go. I cried like a gentle chinchilla shivers in the wind, rapidly and fully.

When I got up-close and personal I couldn't believe how clear and cold the water was. It remains around 60 degrees in the dead of summer. Not wanting to be rude to the beauty of the lake I dipped my almost naked body right into that sucker. One second later I was infested with goosebumps and broke out into some sweet shivers. Even though the water was freezing it was the absolute bomb! This was the most beautiful lake I ever dunked my stupid ass into! I immediately sensed the area was mysterious and sacred but it wouldn't be until later that I heard its crazy tales of sea monsters, dragon tears, ghosts and Bigfoot sightings!

 The lake is officially the second deepest in Washington but the depth in some spots in unknown. It was formed by glaciers digging out a valley thousands of years ago or by a Storm King throwing boulders. Some think there are underground tunnels that connect with the ocean to the west and that's how the sea serpents come and go as they please. There have been a lot of sightings on the lake but I have to add that when the wind kicks up it can make the top of the water look like it has tiny humps protruding from its surface. But the fact that you can see about 100 feet down and fisherman have seen huge animals swimming below them is a little creepy.  Another story about something creepy from down below is the classic "lady of the lake" story. 

  I've heard a couple versions but the one that creeped me out the most and probably isn't as true starts with a fisherman napping on Lake Crescent. His dreams turn to scary crap when he starts to swim below the lakes surface. He sees some fish and gets excited but eventually keeps traveling further down to explore the bottom. At the bottom he comes face to face with a ghost lady and panics trying to escape her evil clutches. He then swims with every ounce of adrenaline to get him to the surface. Just as he bursts through the lake gasping for air the fisherman wakes violently from his dream. The lake is quiet and serene as he sees the floating corpse of a woman just a few feet from his boat. 
Im not sure if that part is true but for sure a lady was murdered, wrapped in blankets, hog tied and thrown in the lake. Eventually the thick rope let go and her body rose to the surface causing the legend of the Lady of the Lake. The craziest part is that she was fairly preserved. The bottom of the lake is so cold and the minerals were just right to make the fats of the body into soap. 
                                                     'effin- a  sweet bro!
After taking my freezing dip and drying my little bitch eyes it was time to move. A few miles down the road a biker dude rode past me and waved. I did the biker “under the handle bar” wave back to him as he past. He of course flew by me as my top speed was about 33mph and his was way more. I could see him kinda do a double take in his mirrors and I realized he was trying to comprehend what he just saw. It wasn't a bicycle? What the hell was it? He pulled over up ahead and we greeted and checked out each others ride. He had a new looking motorcycle, perfect for a road trip. It wasn't too geared out and I could tell this was a good dude. He told me his name was David and he was from San Diego and was basically doing the same thing as me, minus the bigfoot/moped angle. He was camping out under the stars, riding alone and enjoying whatever the road had to offer. He told me about his various motorcycles and even a Puch moped he had. We "parted" ways going in the same direction only to meet up at a gas station down the road. After some laughs he was nice enough to buy me a good luck meal before I hit the forest for a week. I was glad to have met someone like him.  I found out in my two months on the road that there aren't many people that will give a weirdo on a moped the time of day, much less offer some good company and a meal. When I got home he sent me an email with some photos and even wrote about me for Motorcycle magazine!

                                               David "living his dreams"

Full on a veggie Subway sandwich I headed for the south fork of the Hoh River. The map of the area I had showed this to be one of the most remote. I wanted to stay away from main trails and just follow animal ones. I camouflaged my moped quite well in a bush and took off into the mountains. It didn't take me long to realize I headed off into an area that was logged some time ago. This second growth forest was nearly impenetrable. I had to crawl on my stomach and jump over things and work my way down steep cliffs. By the end of the day I was only a couple hills away from where I started fully exhausted. My planned meals for the week were fish if the fishing looked good, rice and lentils, but mostly Clif energy bars. I got enough to have 2-3 a day. Unfortunately it was a bad time for fish because I didn't know dick about fishing.  I did eat some plant buddies whenever I came upon some eatable deliciousness but mostly just ate the little I brought.

                                               the sour apple tasting wood sorrel

I tried to set up camp in a spot that I could most likely see some wildlife. Perched above a stream on a hillside I had a Birdseye view if something were to get a drink. The thick blanket of night soon wrapped me up and there was a problem. It was so dark in this second growth area that I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. I pulled out my night vision scope and could only see about two feet in front of me. A sense of calmness developed when I decided not to panic just because I couldn't see. I just accepted what was going on and relaxed. As I lay in my sleeping bag that night my mind stretched its limits to hear, smell, see, taste, feel or sense anything that was moving about. Sounds of small mammals surrounded me throughout the night adding dimension to my weirdo dreams of sexual wolves jumping off cliffs and mountain lions crying next to me while I slept. In the morning I vowed to claw my way out of the jungle and keep heading to the part of the tree line in the distance that I could see was taller, the old growth part. 
             The Olympic Forest, old growth

When I found my way into the old growth I no longer had to belly crawl on animal trails. I could stand up and walk among the tall ferns and huge Douglas fir, Cedar and Hemlock trees. I tried not to step on too many plants but after seeing the damage bears and elk do I was a little less worried. Sticking to Elk trails brought me easily through the forest. They occasionally led me to water where I spent a lot of my time just sitting quietly trying look for clues. I only saw one print that looked like a footprint but it was not very good and in gravel. Other than that I couldn't say I was close to finding a sasquatch. It was hard enough to find an animal during the day. I really could only get the best "hunting" done in the morning and sunset because during night it was so hard to see anything. I didn't want to bring attention to myself by using a flashlight so I used my nightvision scope. Since visibility was limited to a few feet it was pretty hard to walk around peering through a monocular. I decided to just relax and enjoy myself and not get too caught up in searching day and night for a hair, footprint or to get some blurry footage of a sasquatch. 


One of my first lines of relaxation business was getting buck naked and lying in a stream. There was some naked hesitation at first but that soon faded away. While I was working on my bikini area tan I looked over in the sand and saw something that made my naked weiner feel vulnerable. Giant mountain Lion prints! They looked very fresh and from my rough estimate the cat must have been over 100 pounds. Suddenly I felt very naked, it was mid afternoon so I was pretty certain it wouldn't have been around but I still heightened my awareness as I gently laid my buttocks in the icy stream. 

I went through weird psychological stages through the week. The first couple of days I felt like an intruder. Gradually, my DNA kicked in, and I came to realize that many, many whiteys before me had made homes in forests such as these. On the last days I finally felt relaxed and at home in my new favorite forest! 
I also got more confident at night that I wasn't going to be eaten which made sleep better even though the night sounds could be creepy. I thought I heard everything from a pack of dogs howling, to a baby crying, Indians singing, various whispering, someone saying "what's that" over and over, and once a deep King Kong type of roar! All Sasquatch possibilities I suppose. It's funny what you can get used to after awhile. 

                                                 Rain forest buddy slug
Even with all my new found wilderness confidence, I began to speculate about where I was and if I could make it back out. I didn't look at a map since I first dived into the thickets. I sent my compass home because I didn't know how to use it and now I was basically lost in the Olympic forest. I think I broke every survival rule there was for keeping yourself safe in remote wilderness. It almost seemed as if I sent myself on a suicide mission. People get lost in much smaller forests than this. I've already proved to myself that I wasn't the most competent woodsman so I guess my only excuse was I trusted myself to get me back out.  I couldn't even get a good view of the mountains around me to position where I was and where I needed to be. The trees were so tall and impossible to climb. It was hard enough to see the sky and even so the sun was almost always behind the clouds. I felt I had a good sense of direction in the wilderness so I didn't freak out. I kept on climbing steep and scary terrain while my cheap backpack fell apart bit by bit. This thing got so torn up from bushes and devils club that both straps were about to break. I cursed having that thing most of my time out there but enjoyed the warmth of my sleeping bag at night and a tarp over my head on those misty mornings. I still longed for the freedom of having nothing but a knife, the clothes on my back and maybe a rope like in Tom Brown's books, but I had to face the facts that I just didn't have the skills to pull that off. I did what I could, and the deeper I went the closer I felt I was to finding something .

 I did get a chance to feel what it would be like to see a bigfoot. I know this sounds weird, but if your still reading this you already know weird! There was a time out there I thought I was about to come face to face with what I was looking for! Not long after getting fairly deep into thick of the land I heard what sounded like "wood knocks". These "wood knocks" are described by many bigfoot researchers as the sounds of squatches banging on trees with sticks to communicate long distances with each other. Being in a particularly creepy spot of the woods where I already had goosebumps I heard three loud knocks about 50 feet away. This had to happen when I was in the process of crapping and it freaked me out. If I was wearing pants at the time I would have been literally “shitting my pants”. Getting the crap process finished up as fast as I could and grabbed my camera ready to film the wood knocking squatch. Following the knocks I realized they were jumping around tree to tree. I became increasingly nervous as I got closer to where I felt they were coming from. Then there was a flash from above and the knocker revealed themselves! A Pileated Woodpecker! A huge one too! What a relief! I don't think I was ready to come face to face with a 7ft. Ape anyways. I wonder how many of these reported bigfoot wood knocks have been squatchpeckers! To be fair though, a lot of wood knocks occur in the dead of night when woodpeckers are sleeping. This would be the climatic anticlimactic event to end the Olympic leg of my journey! 

                                                 Pileated squatchpeckers!
I loved every second of being in the Olympic forest and every second of squatchin'! I guess what I planned on doing and what I ended up doing were two different things. I hate being restrained by time or lack of money. These are the typical excuses in life that hold most people back from "living their dreams". Although I was free of this for awhile, I was not totally free from it. I didn't have the skills mastered for sustained wilderness living. I had a girlfriend and job to get back to. My lack of experience would keep me from my original plan of living deep in the woods for at least a month. I wasn't sure if I could make it to this forest on my moped from California so I ditched that plan and visited a few places for a few days instead. The longer I explored this area the more I felt I wouldn't find a sasquatch. Maybe this wasn't the best idea. Maybe the people who blast prerecorded "bigfoot calls" and leave opened cans of cat food out around their RV's were on to something. In retrospect, no, I don't think so, I still think this style is the way to go. Maybe a team of about 15-30 experienced trackers and wilderness livers working together could figure this whole mystery out within a couple months. But maybe these creatures are just more intelligent and aware then we think. But if that's true why do they run out in front of cars? I don't know, I guess I wouldn't be wrapping up this mystery this time .
I was hoping for my own incredible sighting like my favorite from one of John Green's books where a guy witnesses two females near a stream. He knew they were female because they had boobs and one had "swelling in the genital area that it kept rubbing". After about an hour long nap they pull up some water plants to eat. Then out of nowhere one bends halfway over and takes a shit into the stream. The creature then proceeds to wipe its ass with its hand and lick it ever so briefly! If I had a sighting like that, I think I could retire from life! 
On the sixth day I started to try to find my way out. I followed a small stream down hill that lead to a bigger one and eventually found my way to the south fork of the Hoh River. I made camp and explored the river banks and found an epic Elk antler! Rounding out the day with some rice and lentils I watched some bird's fish along the river and tracked a small mammal. When night fell I stared up at the stars wondering if there was sasquatch poop floating down the river I slept near. Just as my gentle eyes gave way to their sleeping position I heard two distant gunshots and hoped my Elk buddies got away.

                         In 2005 this area was not yet known for sparkling vampires and shirtless wolf packs

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