Home > Photojournal > 2004 > Summer > 15 May --- Indian River Valley

Indian River Valley

Jonathan and I headed up west fork of Indian River. We were going to look at a large tree some distance up and a shelter a few miles back in the valley, both of which he had found while on a camping trip a couple of weeks ago. We made quick progress to the first bridge on Indian River Trail, then followed the remnants of an old trail marked on the map. All that is left are a few small bridges in an advanced state of decay. I do not know what the history is of that spur of the trail.

Flowers that were in bloom included heart-leaved twayblade (near the second bridge), three-leaf goldthread, tall mountain shooting-star, bog rosemary, cloudberry (each in the middle Sister muskeg), salmonberries, and bittercress (each widespread). The fern-leaf goldthread were developing seedpods. The patch of forest between the middle Sister muskegs seemed to be very popular with the birds. We saw and heard many robins, a couple of hairy woodpeckers, a red-breasted sapsucker, ruby-crowned kinglets, a varied thrush, and others. In the woods well up the valley, we saw a raptor of some sort. It may have been a red-tailed hawk, but I am not sure. There were a number of spots that looked like they had been frequently used by deer bedding down. In a number of locations there were signs of heavy deer browse. It was interesting to note that some of these locations showed heavy browsing within about 4 feet of the trail but little or no browsing further away. An interesting thing about the ones we saw was that they were on the west side of the trees. In addition to the large tree we intended to check out, we found another one that was almost as big around. It may have been as tall or taller than the first big tree. The first big tree we measured to be 25-26 feet around at about 7 feet above the ground. We guessed that it was at least 80 feet tall and the spread was somewhere between 40-60 feet. It was difficult to say for sure, since we had not brought appropriate tools for accurate measurement and it was difficult to see the top of the tree. The second tree we measured to be about 24-25 feet around. Another interesting tree we found had a fairly large open area underneath. We agreed that it might make a pretty good location for an emergency shelter.

We found a new waterfall coming down from the north slope of Gavan Hill. While we were climbing around along the creek below it, a dipper showed up and seemed somewhat anxious. At first it seemed to be trying to get us to go back down the creek. When we started back down, it flew up to the falls, landed a number of times in different locations (sometimes even with water falling on it), and eventually disappeared over the top.

We did eventually make it to the shelter. It did not appear to Jonathan that anyone had been there since the last time he looked at it. Whoever was there left quite a bit of stuff, including buckets of dry goods in a fairly clever stash located on a tree platform.

Other things of note were large openings with many stink currants (I am more used to seeing salmonberry and devil's club in such clearings). I was also intrigued by the fact that oak fern is the most common fern in most places, but occasionally there would be a patch of northern beech-fern with little or no oak fern growing amongst them. I wonder if there are some soil characteristics which favor one over the other. We discovered a trap with what I think was probably a marten still in it. Our best guess is that it was left over from a trap line this past winter. The animal was still basically intact, but clearly long dead. Many of the clearings with brush had moss on the ground that looked similar to what I saw around our house after the fox sparrows had been working for a while. Jonathan said that these types of locations were full of robins and varied thrushes the last time he was there. We only spooked up a couple. On at least three occasions we heard what we assumed was probably a deer running away from us. We never saw any deer (although it seemed clear that they were probably around). There was a fair amount of fresh bear sign, but other than a strange fishy smell next to the river on our way back, nothing seemed too indicative of a bear in the immediate vicinity.