Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Wolves and Cougars and Bears oh my! Again????

Sorrel here, I felt I just needed to tell you a tale from our Marsh walks as the plot just keeps getting thicker... (for pics of final work scroll down)

On October 17th, walk 16, i got to go on what was by then Laura's side (the side which skirts the river edge). I started out slow enjoying the new view, then at the first corner where the path turns almost a right angle to follow the river I scared a duck, who had been happily pottering on the sand, it flapped and splashed out to deeper water quacking as it went. I don't think I jumped on the outside, but this did set me off and a few meters down the path I found myself feeling very jumpy. In my mind I battled with it: "This is ridiculous, the big animals are so rare, this trail is too well traveled." Then my other voice would say "Ahh, but no one is here today, it's very quiet, it's next to the wildlife corridor... you have already seen a coyote and been told about how the wolves like it here out of season." Aaaggghh! I am not sure which of there voices is the rational one or which is romantic; after all, all the post cards here feature the animals, in fact I think close encounters are what draw a lot of visitors.

Anyway, I move on checking behind me periodically just in case there is something there. I also pick up two rocks as advised (by the Canada Park Rangers) and start to bang them together and sing. "I love you yeah yeah yeah I love you yeah yeah yeah..."
Then, I didn't want to sing. I kept looking at the bushes to my left, it felt like something was there; my imagination told me it was a cougar, my logic told me it was nothing.

At the next corner my eyes still scanning the under growth to my left, I saw a sandy round shape amongst the trees, it looked like the belly of a deer, a dead deer laying in the trees about twenty feet from the trail.

Then my heart was pumping and the pages of paranoia building advice chanting in my head.: "Keep walking...do not approach dead animals the killer may be near by...report all dead animal sightings...keep walking..."

I moved on at a quicker pace, hoping Laura (and Elinor who was taking her pictures that day) were close by, but they were not and as I kept going I decide it was probably my imagination, perhaps just a large rock catching the sun as it fell through the trees.

So then we met; they laugh, and we head back to the start; this time Elinor will travel with me.
We toss the coin again and I get heads, I am going right again. I try to perform my usual walk but my attention is on the bend ahead, I thought with Elinor there perhaps I could take a longer look and at least I would know if I was seeing things.

I was not, it was a dead deer; I could see its head and antlers too, which was simultaneously a relief and a horror.

Encouragingly, she suggested perhaps it had just wandered there, after being hit by a car.

After this we had two more walks to complete and with my luck the result of the toss meant I had to pass it twice more. I did, determined to face my fear. The last time round I could see magpies and crows feeding from the carcus, this said to me that what ever had killed it was not nearby; I could relax (but obviously not really because my camera was still shaking).

So, I guess I should explain why I am adding this story now. One of the other artists on this residency, Rebecca Birch, has been doing a work about Sulphur Mountain and interviewing lots of well informed locals and parks workers. On Tuesday, October 18th, she went down to the Marsh Loop and it was closed due to carnivores feeding. Then yesterday she discovered that it was a cougar that had killed the deer and had been feeding on it. I had not told anyone of my suspicions of it being a cougar because out of all the animals this seemed to have the most remote possibility, but as it turns out one lives on Sulphur Mountain (and was probably there watching me as I walked round banging my stones, guess it likes the Beatles).

1 comment:

Celia said...

How scary!1 You tell a wonderful story!! You always did have amazing intuition - unlike the duck - I think she had a lucky escape! Love the touch of Beatles rocks!! What a walk on the wild side! That's some wilderness... Take care! Love Celia xx