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No, Dave, You are Not Having a Heart Attack – It is Just a Grouse

On our way back down from Pitchoff yesterday, Jess and I heard something we had never heard before.

Well actually, at first, I thought I was “feeling” it.

It started as a low, slow thump. It seemed in rhythm with my (at this point in the hike) heavily beating heart. And then it got a little louder, and a little faster.

Thump… thump… thump…

Until eventually it was racing right along.


I thought I was having a heart attack, I kid you not. What can I say, I have a little hypochondria in me. But when I looked to Jess, to say my good-byes, I was relieved to see that she had clearly heard the same thing.

What was that?

We came up with a few ideas. This trail overlooks the Rt. 73 Cascade Pass, so Jess wondered if it might have a been a Motorcycle opening up the throttle and echoing off the walls. I then heard a small plane overhead, and wondered if maybe they cut out the engine and restarted the prop. It did kind of sound like the whoomp, whoomp, from a helicopter rotor.

Happy with our guesses, we finished the hike and went out with our friends for the night, forgetting all about the experience.

Then today, while cruising the Adirondack online forums I found this thread titled, “Bizarre Low Frequency Noise Near Ausable Bridge“. In it, someone suggested that maybe that noise was a Grouse, and the following video was provided.

That was it! That was absolutely what we heard. Not our hearts getting ready to explode, not a motorcycle, not a prop plane… A Grouse!

I’m actually somewhat surprised neither of us have heard this before, but glad we finally got to experience it – and happy to have lived through it!


  1. tourpro

    It’s the Adirondack Chicken!

  2. Sam Murnane
    Sam Murnane09-29-2010

    Indeed! But not your average free-ranger — Fall “drumming” (which Dave experienced) as opposed to spring drumming (when males drum to attract females) is a territorial display to other males to “stay out of my territory.” These are wonderful game birds who’s numbers rise and fall typically on a 10 year cycle tied to predation (hawks and owls) cycles. If you really want a heart stopper, have one of these explode in front of you from a fresh couple feet of snow in the winter – they burrow into the snow for warmth and to avoid predation.

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