Cape Horn was a bust this year for two reasons. One, the fish were way too small for tagging. Sure there were some tagable, but most were under the 55mm limit set by our protocols. Our rejection rate was somewhere around 70%. Two, the ShoBans were also in the creek on the same day, collection and tagging salmon with the small 8mm or “half” tags. This was very annoying as we try to work with other agencies and not duplicate efforts. It simply isn’t right to double shocking and tagging fish. They were told we would be in there on that day. I wonder if it wasn’t deliberate.
So Praxy and I picked up and moved the next day to Lola campground on Marsh creek. We set up in site 16, and very pretty sight within hearing distance of Marsh creek. We spent a quiet night and got our packs ready for the hike into Sulphur creek lodge the following morning.
It’s about a 20 mile drive from Lola to the Boundary creek trailhead and it took us about an hour. We took off down the trail…
with Novia in the lead. It’s about a two hour walk into the lodge.
Praxy enjoying the 4 and 1/2 mile hike in.
We enjoyed a leisurely walk as the younger guys raced in to show who was the best hiker. They missed this…
A momma grouse with two little ones messing around in the trail. She jumped up on a log and apprised me carefully as her small brood skulked in the brush. I took this shot from about three feet.
This was the best I could do with her chicks. I got her and a chick together, the other chick crept around on the far side of the trail.
She clucked and carried on, I spent 10 minutes taking pictures and watching them.
We arrived about lunch time at the lodge. As we were getting ready to eat, out flight with the collection equipment and our clothes came in.
The plane was over an hour late as the Stanley airport was fogged in this morning. Every year before now, the project leader Steve or I would fly in with the gear. It is a beautiful 40 minute flight through the canyons of the upper middle fork of the Salmon river and I always look forward to it. But, it was time for one of the new guys, Jesse, to learn how to do this job. I didn’t want Praxy to walk in without me and Steve has his young German shorthair dog.
We unloaded our gear and took off for lunch. After lunch it was time to separate the gear, some goes to the stream, some remains behind. Our battery charges stay in the room, we charge our batteries for the shockers and the tagging station daily. It is about 3/4 of a mile hike to where we set up to tag. This would be a total bummer except for one of the perks here at Sulphur creek.
Out here, surrounded by designated wilderness area, is a ‘73 Jeep pickup. It was drove in shortly before the wilderness law went into effect and it will remain here for the foreseeable future. We load the tagging gear, collecting gear, and ourselves into this old warrior and drive the 3/4 of a mile to the creek. They also have a backhoe, two tractors, and an ancient Honda 90 here on the ranch. I believe the backhoe came in by helicopter, they need it for moving fuel barrels and heavy digging. I think it was flown in to set in a new septic system.
After lunch and such, we moved into our cabin.
It’s cabin number 6, Honeymoon cabin. It actually isn’t a “honeymoon” suite, all the cabins are named after the local creeks. Welll, I guess it’s not the honeymoon suite. It is the nicest cabin I’ve seen here, a king bed, table with two chairs, and a very nice bathroom with a shower. Everything is a little rustic, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. After all, I’m out here in the wilderness. Other cabin/creek names are Full Moon, Half Moon, Moonlight, and Blue Moon. Blue Moon creek has been dammed and the water from that creek powers the hydro-electric plant. The plant supplies power for lights, large walk in refrigerators and a freezer, hot water showers, and (decadence in the back country) electric blankets. Praxy and I jokingly call this our third honeymoon. 1st to Panama, 2nd to the Oregon coast, 3rd to the Honeymoon cabin.