Scout 1 Mount Garfield Area

On this my first patrol with Thump, the stainless steel Sako Kodiak in .375 Holland and Holland Magnum, I explored a short gated logging road in the National Forest where I often walk for exercise.

In addition I did some bushwhacking just off the road, discovering new-to-me areas with the usual unexpected adventures.

Conditions:

  • Overcast
  • 50’s F degrees
  • Windy
An old blaze line recently re-painted red

An old blaze line recently re-painted red

This time of year this area is in and out various black bear and whitetail deer hunting seasons. Bow, muzzle loading and rifle seasons vary, as do legal hunting dates with many various sectors of the Great North Woods. Better safe than sorry, I simplify it all by wearing a safety orange vest and bandanna whenever in the woods from mid-September through December.

The area I walked though today is a privately owned island of land, perhaps a square mile in extent, that is completely surrounded by National Forest land managed by the US Forest Service. I the picture you can see Thump and I standing beside a yellow birch tree with relatively fresh red paint that has been brushed over an old blaze on the property boundary line.

Older model logging equipment

Older model logging equipment

As I often mention, these blaze lines are excellent navigational aids when traversing the deep forest. They can save a great deal of compass work with you can follow the blazes instead of having to continually take compass readings. You can also often use forest blaze lines to locate where you are in relation to intersecting roads, streams and other features shown on maps.

Further on along the gravel logging road are parked an old excavator and backhoe, much the worse for wear. There is something odd about the logging operation here on this landlocked privately owned parcel. The land has been mostly logged off and only on intermittent occasions do I find the equipment being used.

My theory is an elderly logger only shows up from time to time to putter around on his land, logging a few trees here and there perhaps for firewood.

Nevertheless, in certain situations this equipment sitting up here in forest could come in handy and it is good to know it is here.

Further up the road are often parked two old dump trucks and logging truck with loader. Recently a dilapidated old cabin has been moved into the woods and fitted with a wood burning stove, which tells me someone plans to do some cold weather logging.

logging headquarters

logging headquarters

Again, this is good information. Even if the equipment is old and prone to breakdown we have available an emergency supply of diesel fuel, lubricants, shelter, parts, tires, and much more.

In the picture, the shack is marked with a red “S” and a geographic feature known as The Nubble is marked with an “N”.

The main logging road branches off into several dead-ends on the private property each of which has a small gravel pit where material has been mined for the making and maintenance of the road. In these areas the logger has dumped off mostly empty drums and jugs of lubricants and transmission fluid for the various machines.

Dumped motor oil containers

Dumped motor oil containers

Sadly, this area is within the Littleton, NH water supply drainage.

Just the other day I carried out an entire garbage bag full of used oil filters the logger had merely thrown onto the ground after changing the oil to his trucks. I imagine he routinely dumps his used motor oils and other machine fluids onto the ground, sending numerous toxic plumes of waste chemicals into the soils that will eventually get into the town water supply.

Drink up Littleton! Hope you are using high quality water filters, nobody should trust their municipal water supply.

However, from the point of view of a man or group patrolling the area long-term without outside supply, such dumps can prove invaluable. For example, the two blue motor oil jugs shown in the picture have a quarter inch of good oil remaining at the bottom – enough oil to possibly lubricate hundreds of firearms.

The logging road loops back to the US Forest Service Garfield Loop Road, where is this a private gate a local bear has taken a dislike to. As a land surveyor and trail crewman in the Great North Woods for many years, I have often seen this type of bear behavior. It seems they have issue with people marking what the bear believes to be his territory.

A black bear has ripped this gate post

A black bear has ripped this gate post

At the gate I bushwhacked through the Fall forest just a hundred yards or so off the US Forest Service road.

Pictured is a typical young hardwood area in Fall, where even a 50-yard clear shot is quite rare. This is about as good as it gets other than man-made cleared areas (as in logging), roads, and the occasional beaver beaver swamp etc. During the spring and summer when the leaves are thick on the trees, this is a jungle to be sure.

Young hardwood forest

Young hardwood forest

Further along I came upon a huge abandoned beaver lodge with a wide open entrance. I had half a mind to wade into the ice cold water and enter the lodge.

Shortly after the camera timer went off and the picture was taken the tripod and camera was tipped over by the high winds that prevailed throughout the scout.

A large abandoned beaver lodge

A large abandoned beaver lodge

And beaver dams that are taller than I am.

Large abandoned beaver dam

Large abandoned beaver dam

The swampy beaver area could possibly have some strategic value, for example if you had it on a flank it could be relatively difficult for an adversary to get through the moat-like structures and they could be exposed to fire from longer than usual forest distances.

Also, these beaver created openings – even abandoned ones – are often well stocked with fish and frogs. In the past the beaver ponds here appear to have been up to six feet deep but now have drained to small pools. This means there may be concentrations of edible creatures to be easily obtained.

Moving on through the forest I came upon more difficult going, thick softwoods and wet ground. Here a large spruce toppled over and created a large cave with its root system. However I wouldn’t feel safe venturing in there as the tree could spring back to trap you forever in the soil of the Great North Woods.

Tree root cave

Tree root cave

At this point it was about 4PM and already getting dark as we approach the shortest days of the year. I opted to go out onto the US Forest Service road and walk the 1-mile back to the truck. Along the way I came upon a hiker at the Mt. Garfield trailhead who was probably camping for the night just off the trail.

And there it is, the first Scout made by Thump and I, an old man with his .375 H&H Magnum rifle.