A sunny, breezy cool morning here in West Boesel. The possible rains that were predicted for the weekend were a bust, with just a couple of sprinkles.
What has been going on for the past week here has been the regular bombarding of our environs: Squirrels dropping pinecones on the metal roof, causing loud grenade-like bangs when they hit. These can be hazardous to one’s cranium. They are not the usual brown cones with the wing-like things that are seen most of the time. These even look like elongated grenades, about 3 to 4 inches long, tapering to a point from a base about 2 inches thick to a point on the end. On each of the compressed “wings” is a very sharp point. Once on the ground, they begin to spread and within each wing are the seeds. It is early in the season for this, and it could portend a hard winter. (We say this annually.)
There were several vehicular accidents reported in the upper valley last week. As best we know, in the most serious one, a lone driver from Oak Harbor was westbound on Highway 20 and veered across the eastbound lane, collided with two trees, a barn and through a barbed wire fence. Aero Methow Rescue Service was called to the scene and the driver was subsequently air-lifted to Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee, where he was stabilized, then flown to Harborview hospital in Seattle. We are told the accident occurred at what used to be the Heath Ranch loading complex about 4 miles from Winthrop.
The highway sign east of there proclaiming a deer migration route ought be heeded, as the road follows the river where the deer cross the road for water on one side and graze on the other. Whether it was deer that caused the accident is unknown to me.
Work is progressing again on the salmon recovery program, a quarter of a mile west of and across the road from here. It is the greatest construction and destruction event since the highway was widened and the Weeman Bridge was built in 1984. I wandered through the private trails we built in the late 1960s to the river, where there were two nets strung across the water and a group of men carrying long-handled fishing nets. One had a backpack.
Keith Watson of the Methow Salmon Recovery group was kind enough to cross the river and explain that the cross-river nets had been placed at either ends of what looked likely to be redds, or spawning areas.
Within that span, the men with the long-handled nets were dipping for, counting and identifying small fish — some baby Chinook salmon and steelhead. The man with the backpack had a device that electrically put a charge in the water that shocked the fish that were drawn to the source of the current. Unable to resist the charge, they were netted, counted and released. It was a far cry from “the old days” when in that same area, we used to fish from a logjam and look at the fish below. The best I ever did was a couple of small trout and greater numbers of whitefish.
It’s now changing rapidly and we’ll try to keep you abreast of what is going on, with more details in a forthcoming “Off the Wall” column.