Date:august 02, 2003
Snohomish county, WA
Nearest town: Ronald/Darrington
Nearest road: Road bearing N from Sal la Sac/FR2030?
Conditions: high haze/clouds,thundershwrs
Location: Kittitas/Snohomish I'll ascertain precise location when I go back to work tommorrow. I left my Gazzetteer in "Guys" Jeep, and if he's going to "hold it for ransom", we have a map in the shop anyways that I can use. If you want exact, it's exact you'll get. Let me know.
Description of event: Upper Cle Elum River, between Sal la Sac and Tucquala (Fish) Lake: While partner was working up a strech of water upstream, I ventured upstream from him to get a peak around the next bend in the river, below which a nearly dry side channel re-entered the Cle Elum. This was all about 100 yds upstream from a multi-party camp area which had been half-occupied the night before when we were driving up looking for our site. It was empty at noon upon arriving to fish.
Just before the side channel, on mostly small gravel and hardpack sand exposed by low flows, I noticed a single bare-foot looking print. I noticed my boot prints didn't make anything like that indentation, but the print was also only about 12 inches in length, however proportionately wide (appx 5+ inches at the forefoot, and not much narrower at the heel). Further inspection revealed a second and a third print in L, R, L succession. The strides were exceptionally long - if not 5-feet, they were a good 6-feet apart, easy.
I didn't tell my buddy for a number of reasons besides being fairly stunned that I'd found these things. Even if we'd stayed in that specific area, I didn't feel at all unnerved... it appeared that whatever made the tracks had not strolled, but probably fled with purpose.
Upper Sauk below forks:
A guy I now work with and I drove up (FR2030?) the upper Sauk out of Darrington to where the road goes away from the river. We had to amble down a good 60degree+ slope to get down to the river. "Guy" fished the first big pool where the river bends appx 90degrees from west to north. On the upstream gravel bar from this point (heading E), I noticed two obvious bare-foot shaped prints in a patch of harder sand up away from the river about 30 feet. Most the gravel bar was irregular golf ball to beach ball sized rocks.
My wading boot prints went into this sand about a half inch if I stepped down hard. The prints I observed were easily a couple inches deep. They were only about 12 inches long but proportionately wide like the Cle Elum River prints. They were also so far apart it seemed crazy - like a good, easy 6-feet apart.
Both sets showed some toe shape, however one of the Sauk prints showed amazing toe outlines pushed down into the sand further than the heel. I didn't tell "Guy" because he's a professed skeptic and I thought he'd think I'd made them anyways. That, and again, I was stunned, as in in disbelief, despite what my eyes were looking right at.
No human could replicate these strides. Even when I tried to, my launch mark was a scuff, and the landing mark a scuff again. I couldn't even come close to the Sauk prints.
I'm 5'10" and 165lbs. And I can jump far. But not that far, AND imprint such clean, even outlines. Like I said, the Sauk ones were amazingly far apart.
My humble theory (I haven't been reasoning these things very long) is that with prevailingly dry conditions, perhaps the creatures are being pushed closer to reliable water sources. It's very likely that in both cases, the apparently younger creatures had gained water but too-close proximity to suddenly arriving humans. One site is 100yds from a camping area (rustic, not "established"), the other not too far from a road.
I will say that while driving in on the two-rut road to the Sauk, that both "Guy" and I observed and commented how the road sure didn't look like it gets much use (we've both driven countless forest service roads and "less improved" roads).
There's a good chance the Cle Elum tracks haven't been disturbed. Not alot of people fish that river, and the ones who do normally fish right out of camp, or right off the road. I did scuff out some perpendicular lines in the hard sand with my heel to mark stride distance so I could try to duplicate without disrupting the tracks.
Heck, the Sauk tracks are very likely to be left undisturbed, as well, although Aug 1 marks Dolly time and that is a good Dolly river (although we were completely skunked on Dollies - "Guy" got a pretty wild rainbow).
record updated:2004-08-01 00:00:00