Bob Spiwak Monkey MazamaBy Bob Spiwak

The hot days seem to be back, and most of the first cut of hay in this area has been cut. The stacks are growing taller along with the next crop of fodder, soon to be cut.

Monday morning opened for us replete with unusual stuff. It began with the dog pointed across the highway and making an unusual symphony of barking, unlike the usual short choruses serenading deer. Maybe a Lamborghini parked at the entry to the driveway across from us. It turned out to be a cow, something foreign to her.

Driving toward SLIME, a quarter of a mile up the road at the corner of Grizzly Mountain Road, there was a pickup truck parked on the westbound shoulder and across the way there was a horse or dead cow, probably a Black Angus. Turning the corner onto Goat Creek Road, I encountered a totally smashed vehicle, a Toyota or Honda it appeared, and likely the other victim of the bovine bash a few yards eastward. There were no humans visible as we continued to the Monday morning conversation on the Mazama Store’s deck.

Inside, it was confirmed by Curt Meacham to be a cow in the ditch, as he had passed it en route to the store. This led to some discussion about the need to alter the open range laws that apply to so many roads throughout the nation. Here, for example, we have Highway 20, with a limit of 60 miles per hour, with distracting scenery from hither to yon, where a big black critter can amble across the road day or night and get smashed, killing or injuring not only the animal but also the vehicles’ occupants as well. Many times on the Loup section of the road, I have had to swerve or stop for the Anguses that did, and maybe still do, wander that road at night.

What makes it doubly onerous is, as we understand it, the driver of the vehicle is financially responsible for the cost of the cattle. Changes are needed for this archaic law.

That was not the end of the newsworthy morning. On Sunday, as I was hacking limbs of a windfall 80-foot pine, three aid cars and two fire engines went past, sirens howling, over a period of maybe 15 minutes. My assumption was that there had been a horrific accident on the pass. The news from a reliable source and several others was that three motorcycles had in some way collided, one into the other two in the vicinity of the Klipchuck campground. One of the victims had to be airlifted to the hospital.

And to top off all this info of less than 30 minutes, was the word that there was a slide near the hairpin turn below Washington Pass, by the avalanche chute called Liberty Bell No. 1. Anyhow, at least for a time, the road was not closed but passage entailed driving along the edge of the road across from the lookout promontory, where if you went over, you’d starve to death before hitting bottom.