Wildlife Encounters

  • A couple of days ago I posted a picture of my old pal Lester in the Random Photo thread. Laura replied saying she’d like to hear the tale of Lester again (I’d told it on Supertoprope), and Toby, who said he wanted to hear it for the first time, suggested starting a thread.

    So, here is that thread, with this tale to begin it.

    First off, here’s Lester (note climbing rope behind him).


    We actually met him more than once, with the first time being probably the most memorable -- in an "Oh Fuck! I'm gonna die!!!" way.

    We'd heard that if one cut off the trail halfway up to Snow Creek Wall (near Leavenworth in the Washington Cascades) one could find an amazing collection of 1- and 2-pitch cracks on perfect granite. So, up we went...

    And, yes, it looked like we'd scored. Lovely tier of cliffs, split with boatloads of cracks. But, as we got closer, we realized we weren't alone. Two young guys were heading down the trail toward us, at speed. Young, and scared witless. They told us of a huge goat that had charged them, and were clearly thankful to be getting away alive.

    Hmmm... What to do?

    Well, the goat wasn't charging down the trail after them with black lightning shooting from his hooves and horns, so we decided to wander up to the base of the cliffs and check things out. Maybe the demon goat would be long gone.

    And so it appeared. The base of the crag was just like the base of any other alpine crag. No monsters in view. So we roped up, and Mari set off up the most appealing line.

    And then, with her about 20 meters up, the monster returned.

    The biggest mountain goat I'd ever seen appeared over the high point of the trail and started down toward me. The mountain goat that had charged two big guys... So, of course, I did what any of you would have done. Started screaming at Mari to stuff in a couple of pieces and tie off, so that I could...

    ...could what? Try to outrun the devil's mountain goat in rough terrain?

    But it was useless. Before Mari could get an anchor, the goat was on me...


    ...he looked at me for a minute and then lay down at my feet, snoozing and chewing his cud.

    Think about it. He was probably twice my size, had horns that could rip the entire side off your car with no effort at all, and had already aggressively chased off some other climbers. I was pretty much convinced I was going to die, and could only hope that Mari would be able to tie off to something in the crack and wouldn't starve to death while waiting until he went away.

    But all he wanted to do was hang out with a friend and catch some rest.

    I guess I caught his vibe, cuz I unfroze and told Mari I was back on belay. She finished the pitch with Lester snoozing at my feet, and then set up a rap to come back down. As she approached the ground, my new friend woke up and...

    Anonymous and Lester resized.jpg
    (Mari doesn't want her face on the internet. Lester doesn't worry about that kind of stuff.)

    That was not the end of our friendship with Lester. We returned to the Pearly Gates six years later, and discovered that he was still running the place. But on that day he was well down the hill, hanging with a young buddy, and paying no attention to the humans fooling about on the rocks above.

    So we did some climbing, and then, needing to pee, I dropped down into the boulders below the cliff. At which point I heard Mari shouting "He's coming toward you!" I looked up just in time to see 250 pounds of hooves and horns falling out of the sky right on top of me.

    Of course, he was aiming for the lip of the boulder above me so that he could get a better look. But from my perspective, it was more like he was going to drop straight onto me.

    This is not something I recommend for the faint of heart. Ten years later, I can classify it as Type II Fun, but at the time it was terrifying. Somehow, I managed to get my camera out as I backed away...

    Lester 2.jpg

    Here are a few more shots of Lester. First, to give you an idea of his size...

    Lester 5.jpg

    And his home terrain...

    Lester at home.JPG

    And what he's like when he gets up real close...

    Lester 1.jpg

    Let's hear your stories..

  • @L-Aura my favorite cats
    Bobcat1024 (1 of 1).jpg

  • Bobcat1024 (1 of 1)-4.jpg Bobcat1024 (1 of 1)-5.jpg

  • @MikeBolte

    Nice one, Mike!! 👍 📷

    Spent much time living outdoors for extended periods bitd but rarely caught glimpses of these "kitties".

    Hell ya!!! Two more while I was replying to the first. Bravo!! 👏

  • @MikeBolte said in Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty....the Cat Thread:

    my favorite cats

    Love 'em!

    Look at the size of the paws on dem kitties!

  • @David-Harris

    I can just imagine what was surely going thru Lester's stream of consciousness:

    💭 "Eh, are these bumblies and gumbies up to now? Meh, they cannot crag worth 'chit. Not a threat. May as well chillax a bit and enjoy the circus...."

    Else maybe, just maybe.... "Hot damn! I got to get me some of those dandy cam rigs!" 🐐


    Poor puppy! Not puppy's fault their people were being irresponsible. Relieved it was not injured.

    Disclosure: Mea culpa! Team Husky certainly spent their fair share of time off belay bitd. Definitely kept the 'yotes, varmints and sorted rodents at bay. Things were far less crowded in those days. Also lots fewer rules.

  • @David-Harris wow! Lester the great! and great story!

  • We didn't know it but this Steely-eyed bugger had already chewed a pack.

    IMG_3033 (2).JPG

    So, as @FritzRay might tell ya` you need to shoot on sight before it ruins the On-sight . . .

    I had left a pack at the bottom of the large block that leans against the outcropping. The other pack was with us at the base of the corner. Longer & better-protected, it is a 'better' start that makes for a 2 pitch climb & puts you above the varmints lair. When I brought her up to the comfy belay at the top of the block, M, my wife, laughingly told me she could hear what sounded like happy whistling or excited chirps.
    I was not amused.

    When we got down, I could see the damage, but it was dusk. We still had to hike down & drive out of the gloomy woods.
    I gathered up what I could see and headed for the truck before it got dark.
    The next day, I had to go back to gather lost gear; some cord & a 'biner of RP's and the trash;
    chewed through nylon stuff sacks that had held sandwiches & home mixed gorp, perfect rodent food.
    IMG_3038 (2).JPG

  • I haven't seen much wildlife of note lately, but I did see some "dead-life" on a hike yesterday.

    Elk skull.

    Small carnivore. The skull was about 6" long.


    And as for those rumors of me hating marmots, I can only refer you this photo of me making friends with one in the Italian Dolomites.

  • @toby said in Wildlife Encounters:

    The Best Camera is the One You Have With You.....

    In that spirit, here are a couple of pictures of a little guy we encountered by a lakeshore up in the hills while searching for granite...

    Toad 01.jpg

    Toad 02.jpg

    I tried to get closer, but s/he just kept hopping away. Frog? Toad? All I can say is that it was about an inch-and-a-half long, and had a white stripe down its back.

    However, while I may not know much about frogs and toads, I do know an edible mushroom when I see one. Check out this Matsutake we found on the hike back down to the car. It was delicious.


  • @David-Harris

    I'm guessing toad? The perfect camo a'la Mother Nature in either case.

    Don't know jack about edible mushrooms myself but that does look like a beauty. Indeed. 🍄

    P.S.; Got so into the pics I forgot to upvote them. Remedied. 👍

  • IMG_1458.JPG

    Damn thing was 2ft long!


  • @Skywalker said in Wildlife Encounters:

    Damn thing was 2ft long!

    What is it? Nothing like that around here!

  • Gilla Monster! Never saw one before. They are poisonous and can have a nasty bite. But they are so slow moving you'd be a a very special person to be in danger of them. We were climbing at Red Rocks.



  • It made me wonder what their mating ritual looked like 🙂

  • @David-Harris

    For inquiring minds: Heloderma suspectum 🕵

  • Our 5 acre "ranchette" has a spring creek on it & is adjacent to the much-larger Choss Creek valley. The abundant aquatic insects fuel a lot of small wildlife that enjoys visiting our fruit trees & Heidi's garden. Most of the critters get to interact with us in peace.

    Racoons tend to come & go, since in this area they also carry rabies. Darn they are cute & fun. These were hanging out in our porch cat-house.
    Cat and Racoon 018- small.jpg

    We have a small but active population of Gopher Snakes aka Bull Snakes, who patrol our property for mice. Curiously, they are all named Ralph. Ralph looks up in this photo & says Hi!

    We often have otters visiting, but have not yet produced a photo & years back Heidi had a Bobcat on the back porch. Of course we have rabbits, skunks, marmots, aka rock chucks, & an occasional porcupine, which enjoy girdling our fruit trees. And Mule deer, although our horse-fence mostly discourages them from visiting, which is why its there. Heidi's garden is fenced a little more tightly against deer, marmots, skunks, racoons, & rabbits.

    We have 3 types of lizards, including the somewhat rare & quick Skinks.


    It appears the apex preditors here are the two Great Horned Owls which live here about 9 months a year.



    And the smallest, but most active birds are the Hummingbirds, which have declined markedly here in the last 25 years, with Global Warming. Always fun to find & watch their tiny nests.



    And our insects, who consider Heidi their friend.


  • @FritzRay Heh, "Ralph" looks to be pretty well fed. No shortage of mice despite Harley, eh?

    Think this is first time I've ever "seen" a hummingbird nest. Ditto the skink. Cool stuff. 👍

    Iirc, Mantids are the only insects capable of rotating their heads a full 180 degrees and also have stereoscopic vision? One of my favorite prof's from bitd is an entomologist and would lay these kinds of cool facts no us. I also recall that most Mantids we encounter are introduced rather than native species? I guess the Chinese immigrants enslaved by the railroads used to bring w/them for good luck or some such? Hell of an ocean voyage, if so.

    Got to watch those raccoons - they can make a heck of a mess, get territorial and be pretty aggressive. You seem to have no shortage of firearms though, so maybe less of a concern?

    In any case, good thing I don't reside at "The Ranchette" cuz the biologist in me would preclude the IT geek in me from ever getting any "work" done. 😜

  • If there was an "Unclear On The Concept" award, this woman would win it. And not just in the "Wildlife" category, but the overall award...


    (Yes, it's Youtube, but it's audio only)

  • @David-Harris

    Lol! Surely this woman is punking us. I wonder how long she had to practice this to be able to maintain throughout the exchange. 🤣

    Here's yer' sign...

Log in to reply