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05/28/04 - Gravel Pit Tales

Olympic SalamanderWe were out on the Spruce Railroad Trail today, and we couldn't help noticing that the mud is back. That and the salamanders. You have to keep your eyes open, or you'll step on one of the unique species of the Olympic Peninsula. These little lizards are a sort of red gold, and as you can see in the photograph, they rather blend in to the background. The rain brings them out and it brings out the slugs, so this is a great time to explore the trails of Olympic National Park.

On our way west to the trailhead, we heard a cautionary tale about feeding wild animals. We picked up some gravel at the quarry a bit off of 101, west of the Elwha. We're retail customers and drive a Honda Civic. Most of the folks here drive umpty ton gravel trucks, or diggers, or grinders. It's sort of a grown up Tonka paradise.

Anyway, we stopped in at the office to be sociable, and pay for our gravel, and we heard the story of cougar.

It had been a hard winter, and the cougar was about as thin as a housecat. The owner of the quarry had never seen a big cat so skinny, and having several hundred pounds of hamburger going stale in the freezer decided to feed the poor thing. Needless to say, he carried his pistol, and he kept his distance, but the cat went for the beef and not for him.

As the season progressed, the cougar put on some weight and and started to flesh out a bit. A few hundred pounds of hamburger will do that to beast, or man. There's a documentary on this that just came out, which says something about restating the obvious. Needless to say, having been fed, the cougar was much more energetic, and the owner of the quarry was figuring it was time for the creature to return to the wild.

Then, one day, the cougar dropped by a neighbor's place and went for the ducks and geese right on the front porch. The neighbor shot it. So, if you do come to the Olympic Peninsula, think twice before feeding the wild animals.

Keywords: animals, spruce railroad, salamander, elwha, slugs, trails, winter