A quick trip report from my second recon into the mountains. I didn't get to my research area early enough to do much so Friday night to Saturday morning was a wash.
Saturday morning, September 19, 2009, I planned to drive a wide loop of back roads, 60 or 70 miles, that would take me through a few regions I hadn't visited before. Along the loop were a few spots that I was familiar with, and planned to choose one of those for my Saturday night camping spot.
I was on the road at 7:30 a.m. and got to the first area I wanted to scout a few minutes before 9 a.m. This was a remote picnic/campsite area that is relatively off the beaten path and gets very little traffic. It's part of a much larger wild area, 10,000 acres, that has been slated for "wilderness" designation for some time. But a few local landowners have put a stop to that talk, for now.
Anyway, I pulled into the empty parking lot of the picnic area and took note of the thick forest on all four sides. It was early still and fog filtered through the trees, the sun not yet hot enough to burn it off. A hiking trail led off through the woods and down a broad valley to where beaver ponds are reported to be abundant.
I killed the engine, stepped from my truck leaving the door open, and started walking toward an information sign with a map of the area. It wasn't ten seconds since I'd killed the engine when I heard a single loud wood knock from the hill above me.
It was a solid rap, similar to the knocks I can make with my wooden 2x2, but with a little less oomph behind it. It was definitely more powerful than the passive crack of one piece of wood dropping onto another, as in a tree or branch fall situation.
It rang throughout the area and seemed to come from 200 to 300 yards up the hill, through a dense forest of mature red spruce. Of course not expecting to hear anything, I didn't have my audio recorder turned on.
After the knock, I went back to my truck, turned on my recorder, got my 2x2 and let out a solid rap against a nearby maple. I realized my knock was overpowered as compared to the one I heard, but not by much. It seemed as though I had shouted in an auditorium, when a more normal voice would do.
Ten minutes went by and nothing else happened. I had a lot of ground to cover so after a quick recon of the local area I packed up and left. But that spot is on my list of future camping trips.
I spent the rest of the day covering a lot of gravel road miles. I found my camping spot and pulled in to camp at about 6 p.m. With just a couple hours of day light left I set about scouting three of the roads that spread out from where I chose to camp. Over the course of two hours I covered a couple/three miles and let out as many wood knocks. Never hearing any returns.
I also noticed fresh tracks on the one road that should have had the least traffic. There were dog, mountain bike, two horses, and an ATV, all within the 24-48 hours prior to my arrival. Seems the area I had chosen was not as remote as the first area I camped in a few weeks back. Live and learn.
Over the course of the evening I set up a nice camp with campfire, had some dinner and let out a few more wood knocks. After one knock I heard the distant call of a barred owl, the classic "who cooks for you", four times. But beyond that I heard nothing else that evening.
I hit the rack fairly early but left the audio recording going on top of my truck all night. Over the next few days I'll listen to what it recorded, and hope that it caught something interesting. I was up at 6:30 a.m. and bugged out by 7.
So not a lot of action, but the weather was great and the leaves are beginning to turn color. I saw a lot of great country, and it's always nice to sleep out there in that deep forest.