Fern Cascade is a notorious nightmare from hell so I was absolutely dreading it and so was my field partner. My 2006 field experience is one I remember like it was yesterday and if I could have those memories erased I sure the heck would. It requires two days of intense off-trail hiking through non-stop downfall, up mountainsides and through claustrophobic forest regrowth. Besides the amphibians, the only live animal we saw was a curious coyote checking us out during one of our surveys. I was stoked but my field partner didn’t take it so well.
And of course, I had another really sick-looking fall that I immediately bounced right back from. It was bad enough to turn my field partner’s stomach. This ability to stay loose and flexible against all odds has prompted her to nickname me “gummy bear.” Sadly, my skill did not save me from slicing my arse cheek in half on a dead branch while answering the call of nature. I didn’t realize how bad the cut was until I looked at my underwear later that night and found the entire right side was blood-soaked. Yikes!
When all was said and done, we were both relieved and overjoyed with our experience because we seemed to make perfect navigational choices as compared to our previous years in Fern Cascade. One bad choice in that place could mean hours and hours of being stuck and gaining very little ground.
On the way out we found the largest elk rack and skull I’ve ever seen. We have no idea how this creature managed to get that size in such a dense forest. Its days must have been spent constantly getting stuck and unstuck on the thick forest regrowth. What a cruel freakin life. Him and his friends did manage to blaze us the most amazing path out to the trail though. What took us about 45 minutes of bushwhacking to get into only took us 15 minutes to get out of thanks to our elk spirit animal.