Today is April 26, which is deep into Spring in many places but here in the mountains of the Great North Woods a snowstorm this time of year is not infrequent.
This morning I went for a long walk off-trail through the snowy forest and mountains, a wet clinging snow several inches deep making the way wet as it fell not only from the air but also from every tree and bush I came in contact with.
What happened during this hike I have to pinch myself in order to prove it is real.
This early morning I parked my truck at the closed-for-the-winter US Forest Service gate at the beginning of the Gale River Road near Franconia, New Hampshire. From there, I walked a couple miles up the dirt road, in places quite steep, to the dead-end and then on up through an un-maintained trail to an interesting protuberance known as “The Nubble”.
On the summit of The Nubble winter was in full force. A total whiteout of blinding snow and wind on its fully exposed ledges. Taking pictures was impossible, the snow falling so fast and furiously as to cover the lens of the camera as soon as I removed it from its case.
I was taking a real beating from the elements on The Nubble, and was worried about getting off those exposed ledges as the trail down is steep, ledgey, and slippery in such conditions. I beat a hasty retreat back down into the comfort and safety of the protecting forest.
With some difficulty and risk I made it to the base of The Nubble. From there I proceeded southward through the wet winter-like forest toward the nearby trail-less and un-named mountain sometimes referred to as “The Peak Above the Nubble”. Since I knew, basically, all I had to do was go uphill in order to reach the summit I did not bother to use a compass but simply proceeded in a generally uphill direction.
As I made my way upward, with the thought of reaching the summit of this nearly 4000-foot mountain, almost assuredly alone for miles in this off-season difficult weather, I had the adventure of a lifetime….
Beautiful, silent, mountain forest, bedecked in a mantle of white. I enjoyed ambling along, exploring as I love to do places I have never been.
Eventually I came out upon a series of beaver dams and meadows created by beavers as they cleared the trees for food and dam building material.
Using a beaver dam as a natural bridge to cross the swift cold mountain stream, I could see up ahead the summit of the un-named peak and my intended destination. Suddenly I heard the loud slap of a beaver tail smacking water with force, as is the nature of beavers in sounding warning of an intruder.
Thinking I could get a view of the beaver and perhaps a picture, I worked my way toward the general area I had heard the beavers splash. What I found caused me to be perplexed indeed.
There just downstream, shimmering in the shallows of the cold mountain stream were what appeared to be a pile of very large gold nuggets! Knowing that finding gold in these mountains is not out of the question (as I have often panned for gold recreationally) I quickly made my way to the spot for closer investigation. Perhaps I had found the mother lode!
What’s this?? About eight or ten brass Rifle cartridges!
Upon closer inspection I could see they were stamped near the primers “.375 H&H”, un-fired, loaded with copper bullets or copper jacketed bullets.
What a strange caliber. Obviously belonging to a rifle, I am very familiar with the Nato .223 and .308 calibers as well as the 7.62 x 39 “AK” rounds etc, but these cartridges are very large, substantially larger than the .308’s.
I stood up from the stream bed and looked around – there, on the bank of the stream lined up on a log and poking out from the snow were another half dozen cartridges!
But this was not all. Just beyond this newly found ammunition I noticed a line of cartridges, all of this same caliber, evenly spaced by about six inches or a foot, leading away from the stream.
Naturally I paused and looked around my position. I became very suspicious – WTF was going on here?
No tracks in the fresh snow, which meant that however this ammo got here it must have been before the snowfall which started last night.
But then how could the cartriges be partly on top of the snow, as though they were dropped there from the air?
I circled around, a hundred feet on either side. Nothing but snow.
Following the trail of cartridges, I picked them up as I went, up the stream bank and back into the thick forest where the beaver hadn’t cut trees.
Looking up into a patch of giant white pine trees, a bit rare for this altitude for I must have been over 2600-feet elevation, I glimpsed just the head of a Raven bird who had alighted on a snowy branch that was bending from the weight of the bird and the heavy snow. As the Raven landed, a patch of snow fell off the branch which caused it to vigorously bounce up and down.
I took a picture just as the Raven ducked out of sight. Try as I might, I could not see the bird again, though I did not see it fly away. I got the feeling that the Raven was there…amongst the snowy branches….spying on me….
Standing still looking for the Raven, I happened to glance to my left, to the crook of several birch trees growing from the same base.
And there it was.
A shining metal rifle.
Laying against the birch trees, amongst the snow and the underbrush, I never would have noticed the rifle had I not stopped for the raven….
Picking up the rifle I could see it was a bolt action of stainless steel and wood stock construction with an empty magazine inserted into the magazine well.
Excited by the events of the day and my unexpected find, I decided the best course of action was to re-trace my steps back the truck which by now was several miles away through a wet snowy forest.
Rifle in hand, with 20 rounds of heavy ammunition, I slogged my way uneventfully back to the truck and drove home where I took this picture of the days find.