Spring Comes to Skookumchuck

Spring is perhaps my favorite time of year. I love this transitional space between the long cold days of winter and warm, full golden days of summer. Spring with its rains and storms, with its winds and feeling. Ever-changing spring. I always love to be outside, but it is during this season I start to get an itch, a feeling of needing to go out and about.

We have such beauty around us. About an hour southeast lies the beautiful Skookumchuck river and premier elk hunting grounds in Washington state. So far, we have visited a few times and I look forward to more exploration.

The steelhead were running the first time we visited, so we had plenty of company with people fishing off the banks and rocky peninsulas. We followed the river for quite a ways, and saw plenty of elk and beaver sign. We also had the pleasure of watching a dipper pair bobbing and dipping in the river. They also flew back to their nest, which was cleverly concealed in the end of a downed log. I very much enjoy dipper birds! While I wasn’t able to get any photos of them, this video demonstrates their dip.

The next time we went, we decided to head upland – away from the river – to investigate some prime bear and elk country.

To get back in to the forest, we started up an old logging road that eventually dead-ended in a lush forest. This is the type of forest that I know and love – lots of conifers and cedar with thick underbrush of fern, salal, Oregon grape, trillium, cleavers, herb Robert, youth-on-age, etc.

I love these old logging roads because there is always plentiful sign. Animals repurpose old roads for their own use. We saw lots of side trails running off through the trees, and lots of old coyote scat. I thought for sure we would see bear sign but we found none in the area.

It is clear that the elk are happy here. The day was full of elk sign! Back in the forest, we got on and off elk trails, some of them massive. I wonder if they live in one big super-herd or if there are smaller communities of them. I also am curious how the hunting season affects their behavior.

huge elk highway that we followed

Already I can’t wait to go back!