Imagine yourself hiking through the forest. I’m not talking about the woods behind your house or one of those groomed trails the forest service has. I am talking about exploring the Cascades of Washington State above 4500′ elevation without a destination.
I had a GPS and was a little familiar enough with the area so as I wouldn’t get lost. I was exploring a glacial bowl that had been eroded away 1000’s of years ago and gold was mined until from 1869 to the 1940’s. Now a days you get the small scale hobby miner that will hang out there for a weekend and dig a hole or two and leave. Not even the forest ranger that manages the area, and mines in the valley, have explored the areas that didn’t have trails.
I didn’t find a bonanza, but I did identify the 8 claims in the valley from the late 1800’s. I found one of there old cabins, that still stands and is owned and operated by the Forest Service. Being in a valley that runs north and south, it gets light later in the day and gets darker earlier. Thank the ridges of the valley for that.
My alarm went off giving me a two hour warning before dusk so I started thinking about heading back to camp. I didn’t make it up to the lake on this day, so it was going to have to wait for another. I didn’t really want to head back the way I came up as there was no way to cross the river until I got all the way back to the cabin. I did manage to get to a water fall that wasn’t on my maps. I imagine that is was from the run off from the lake.
I took me 30 minutes to get across the river, but I stayed dry as well as all of my equipment. I knew that there should be the trail that goes up to the lake a little over a quarter mile away to the west. I figured I would explore my way over to that trail and take it down to camp. When I got closer to the trail, I could see one of the trail markers in a tree off in the distance. The trail marker isn’t the WTF?, that was between me and the marker.
With a sigh of relief after finding the marker, I adjusted my gear and headed in that direction. Very briefly out of the corner of my eye I see something off in the trees that is man made. I stopped in my tracks faster than than a hummingbird on race day. If what I saw is what I thought it could be, I may not be the only person out here off trail. I twisted my head to get a second look at the foreign object, trying to not make any noise.
This is the crappy shot I got from a distance with my cell phone. Sure enough, that thing is man made, from pressure treated lumber. Now from a distance It looked like some kind of tree stand. Tree stands usually mean hunters and hunters can use traps. I made a quick scan of the ground around me looking for signs of man made stuff near the ground or anchored to a tree. Being satisfied that I didn’t see any traps or other man made stuff in the area I cautiously made my way toward the object.
This setup is like nothing I have never seen before and I was seriously scratching my head. While investigating the area I notice a laminated sign hanging from an alder tree by the object. Reading the sign made the hair on the back of my neck damn near pop out!
I’m 45 and I can honestly say that I have spent more time in the woods that in the city, and I have never seen a carnivore attractant whatever before. In a mere moment I went from alert to pissed off. Who in their right mind would put a wildlife monitoring station less than 100 feet from a National Forest Service Trail that get a bunch of use. Lets magnify this by trying to attract animals that eat meat and baiting them to less tan 100′ from a main trail.
I then went from pissed to curious. A couple picture up you can kind of see the bait hanging out from the pressure treated device. Whoever set it up didn’t know what they were doing and probably wasted a bunch of tax payer dollars. It had 3 trail camera watching the bait. I have no idea how long it had been there, but it looked like nothing got the bait. It had to have been put up last season because there was still feet of snow that needed to melt before this years hiking season starts.
Why wasn’t the warning put down at the trailhead instead of 12′ away from the station? It definitely made me scratch my head and say WTF! I have enter the photo of the sign in Proscenium’s Friday Follies 2.1. Below are some additional photos of the area.