Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Day 76: Feeding bears and hunting plane wrecks!

August 24: In the morning, I walked over to Safeway to resupply for the next 8 days and packed up my pack. Then Amanda and I checked out of the motel.

I only needed to complete about 5 miles of trail today. Strictly speaking, I could probably get by without any hiking at all, but knocking off 5 or so miles today would make tomorrow that much easier. My permit for the Olympics specified where I needed to camp starting tomorrow night. Tonight, I could camp anywhere between the Tubal Cain trailhead and the border of Olympic National Park--as long as I covered about 16 miles within the next two days, I was on schedule.


But Amanda had to leave to go back to work, which meant I had to get back to the trail today--even if I didn't really need to do any hiking today. So my plan was a short, 7 or 8 miles, which definitely didn't require an early start.

So, rather than head immediately back to the trail, we went to the nearby Olympic Game Farm which is basically like a drive-thru zoo. You're also allowed to buy loaves of bread to feed the animals.

We got two loaves of bread. I imagine the animals have to get bored of the bread--all of the vehicles were throwing bread out the windows. Some of the animals seemed to love it. Some of them seemed not to care. 

The bears, we were amused, almost universally picked up a slice of bread, took it to a nearby pool of water, and dunked the bread before eating it. Their version of milk and cookies, I guess. =) I was a little disappointed when I checked my videos later and realized that I never actually got a video of this particular behavior. It wasn't just one bear, either--it was all the bears! Except for one that didn't seem to have any water nearby to dunk it. Every other bear made a specific point of dunking the bread before eating it, though.

The enclosures with the buffalo and elk had signs warning not to stop because those animals could and would damage vehicles, so we were a little surprised that pretty much everyone seemed to ignore those signs and were perfectly happy to stop as bunches of buffalo crowded around their vehicle trying to get food. One of them in particular looked like a brand-new vehicle. That was brave, I thought. I turned to Amanda, "This is why we never like new cars. If your vehicle gets a dent, nobody would even notice!" =)

After checking out all of the animals and running out of bread to feed them, we headed back into Sequim to grab lunch before Amanda returned me to the trailhead. We decided to try the Jack in the Box again with the outdoor tables, but checked out the tables before going through the drive-thru to make sure it was clear of smokers, and they were.

We headed through the drive-thru, got our lunch, then parked and carried it out to the tables. Unfortunately, a few minutes later, an employee stepped out and started to smoke. Argh! She kept her distance, but it wasn't far enough away to avoid the smoke. 

We finished up, then started the drive back to the Tubal Cain trailhead where Amanda dropped me off. She was anxious to get home and it was going to be at least a few hours of driving for her.

So I put on my pack and started hiking.

Almost immediately, I noticed some strange leaves on the ground that looked like they were turned into faces. The first one I saw, I thought... maybe a coincidence? But then it was followed by another one. And another.

The leaves are watching us....

And I knew it was evidence of a PNT hiker. I had seen a photo of this type of "trail art" on a PNT Facebook group last year and figured whoever did it then was back at it this time. Probably one (or more) of the four PNT hikers that I knew hadn't been far behind me. They probably passed me when I had gotten off at the Tubal Cain trailhead. There were fellow PNT hikers around, though! I was excited at the prospect of meeting them and hoped that their permits required them to do a short day soon that would allow me to catch up.

Tubal Cain is an old, abandoned mine on the trail, but the most interesting feature of this trail, or rather, a little off from the trail, is the remains of a B-17 that crashed on January 19, 1952, in blizzard conditions while returning from a search for another plane that had wrecked. Of the 8 men on board, 3 were killed. The 5 survivors were rescued the next day.

But, more important for modern-day hikers, the wreck was left in place to be explored.

And since I had such a short distance to walk, I figured I could easily do the 1/2-mile off-trail hike to visit the plane wreck. Why not?! Then I would find somewhere to camp.

I had actually been out there 6 years earlier with Amanda when she had heard about the wreck and wanted to visit it, but I didn't remember much about the trail that led to the hike except that was surprisingly steep and sketchy. We had camped nearby, but went up to the wreck one at a time so as not to leave our campsite unattended and let squirrels and other critters (or bears!) get into our food. 

So I reached a point on the trail where I saw a small trail leading steeply up the hillside to the left and I thought that must be it. I followed it for about 15 minutes, and it was absolutely horrible. More of a bushwhack than anything. Did the trail grow over more? I was starting to lose track of the trail--it would disappear and fade then I'd see a hint of one further up, but at this point I wasn't even sure if I was still going in the correct direction and finally decided to call it quits. I was a little disappointed not to find the airplane wreck.

I returned to the main trail and continued along, eventually reaching the intersection with the Tull Canyon junction where I met a woman hiking in from the other direction. She was looking for the mine shaft, and I told her I thought it was just up the trail a stone's throw away, and we walked up to check it out and sure enough, there it was.

She also wanted to see the airplane wreck, though, and said she thought it was further up the trail. Really? This trail? I remembered the trail I used 16 years ago looking more like a game trail than a real trail, but this was a real trail! She wasn't 100% certain that the airplane wreck was up this trail, but was going to check it out anyhow just in case.

I decided to do the same. The trail was steep but not nearly as difficult as I remembered from my first visit so I still had doubts if this was the correct direction until we met two people coming down the trail from the other direction who confirmed that yes, we were heading the correct direction for the airplane wreck. Awesome!

And maybe 15 minutes after leaving the PNT, I saw the large piece of wreckage off the side of the trail. I had found the wrecked B-17. I took the necessary photos and looked around a bit. I was surprised the first time I saw the wreck how recent some of the parts looked, and I still found it surprising today. The tires haven't decomposed at all in the past 68 years, and some of the metal looked as shiny and new as if it came out of the factory yesterday. 

B-17 wreck

Then I headed back down to the PNT. The morning had been warm and sunny, but as I hiked, a layer of fog settled in and it was becoming cold and damp. Initially I thought about hiking a few more miles before setting up camp but decided to stop at the next good spot I found. With the fog, there wouldn't be any views to admire and maybe the views would be better tomorrow, and I still only had to complete maybe 12 miles tomorrow. Easy peasy! So I figured it was okay to quit early after completing a mere 4.6 miles according to my GPS.

But I didn't have enough steps by the time I set up camp! I've been in the habit of getting at least 10K steps for years. It has, quite literally, been years since I've taken fewer than 10,000 steps in a day, but I found myself 3,000 steps short by the time I decided to set up camp. So I walked circles around my campsite for about an hour, which was kind of an annoyance. But at least I wasn't carrying my heavy pack to do it! =)

And that was the end of another adventurous day!

Amanda waves goodbye. If all goes well, I wouldn't see her again until the end of the trail!

Some more "leaf people"--I won't share all of the leaf people I saw, though. I got tired of taking photos of them all!

I thought this one looked more like the starship Enterprise rather than an actual face!

An abandoned mine shaft with the anonymous woman I met who volunteered to be in my photo to give more scale to the mine shaft. =)

'Twas a lovely place to camp! =)


KuKu said...

Great photos and video! What fun with the animals. However, I can't help feeling like a steady diet can't be healthy.

Karolina said...

Is bread good for animals at all?? 🤔