The Early Bird gets the Otter!

Sunday 3AM.  It’s  52 Degrees , dark, quiet and peaceful…..  I pour a  mug of Sumatra,  cup my hand  over the rim and  breath in  the  warm earthy scent of the coffee. I should be  tired but I can’t sleep.  Too much  on my mind. I have many mechanisms  for relaxing, for  de-stressing….but none I can really do at 3AM …my de-stressors  are  long hot  baths with a good book,   nature walks, bird watching and of course writing. I chose none of those… instead I picked  Sci-fi …. watched the latest  Dr. Who  episode  and  the 2nd  episode of the new series  “Defiance” ( I don’t think it’s going to make it  but I love sci-fi  so  I watch anyway)…it’s  now  5 AM, still an hour from sunrise   but the  birds are chirping away,  they know  the  rain is on it’s  way  and  the early bird gets the  choice  bits from the suet… or the  feeders, or the ground  or even if you’re a robin  – the worm…. I wonder why Robins  eat worms and not  seeds or suet from the  feeders? Something to  look into….  there’s a bazillion robins around  but  I’ve never seen  one at a feeder…  always with the worms and bugs….  as usual I digress…  so it’s  5 AM and, like the birds,  I know the  rain is a comin’!! If I want to  get a hike in  I better  get out and  do it….

I  sneak up the stairs  with my  phone as a flashlight  get dressed and gently wake her with a kiss….   honey…honey…  don’t get up , I’m going  to take Duke on a sunrise  hike  on a new trail I found…  I’ll have my GPS  tracker on  so  if you wake up  you can track me.. go back to sleep I love you.. and with a mumble  and a wait I want to go with you… honey it’s 5 AM..oh ok….. love you  be careful… I will….

With my health issues  I’ve been “tracked”  via GPS  since  January …..If I stay in one place too long  I get a   call or a text making sure I’m ok…..   but  there are some places there’s no  signal  but  there is GPS  so I can manually update my location so she can see that I’m moving….

I  sneak back downstairs   pull on my hiking boots and  get Duke’s collar and leash,  he jumps up on the  couch  –  he knows where to go  when I  grab the collar, I don’t get down there as  I  might not make it back up LOL…. so he gets on the back of the  couch I put  on his collar and he’s  raring to go!  out the door we go … we  get to the  new trail I found…it’s  still very pleasant  in the  low 50s a nice  blanket of  clouds  keeping the warmth in….  the sun is  supposed to be coming up soon but we probably won’t  see it  today….This is where we started…


We wander through the woods  hearing the  birds chirping their warnings that    the humans are coming the humans are coming….. Hear an  angry  Stellar’s  Jay  yelling to  the world  that there’s an intruder in the woods!!!  no no  Stellar I’m cool…don’t worry… and as long as you aren’t furry  and  a nut eater you’re pretty  safe from Duke too…. there’s not another human soul in sight..  it’s just Duke and I  and nature…..DSCN3802 DSCN3803

The main trail  has many  different  tracks &  scat… Deer,  Elk, Bear, Coyote,  Mountain Bike and horse….but  the whole time we didn’t see a  single person  ( I really like that!!) …we  took several side   trails …  this  trail  system  is  awesome,  you can walk  for miles and never cross your  path  and get  back to  near where you went in…  we  just wandered  ( I have a  really good built in sense of  direction , and have been an avid outdoors-man for  a long time,  I was a  good  boyscout [though today I wouldn’t support them  becasue of their backwards  leadership  who  discriminate terribly] , I used to hunt by myself , just me and my bow  deep in the wilderness, sleeping  under my truck  if it was raining  or snowing or  under the stars if  if was nice….. I did  really well  at  wild-land firefighting orienteering etc…. so I know my way  around the woods, and  I still live  by the motto “Be Prepared” )

On with the Hike!!!

This is   the way we’re  heading….


Here’s the area  we walked.  As you can see it’s   nothing but  wilderness for miles and miles… and   it’s within walking distance of our house…. Here’s a link to a custom Google map of the area:  MAP


There are  a couple  long  river like lakes  and a lot of boggy wetlands ,  surrounded by  old growth  and new  growth  forest, some steep  trails mostly  animal   trails  but  they work nicely  for getting away…  and with  the diverse  types of   ecosystems   it makes for a  cool mix of  wildlife,  trees,  flowers,  mosses  etc….  nature…sights, sounds and smells  ahhhhhh peace  on a Sunday morning.

Just  after the  sun  comes up  (officially  anyway,  though all we saw was a  brighter sky)  we  saw the first of the lakes… Lake is  probably a strong work… they look like old  sloughs or quarries  or mines that  filled in and are  now  lakes  and  swampy/bog wetlands…  but I  see something  headed straight forward  through the water at us  moving  pretty  quickly  and it’s not that small….. my mind  is saying   there aren’t  alligators here..   as it got closer I was    thinking ok, maybe it’s a  beaver,  cool!  It’s really cruising right at us though…. we’re on the trail  right next to the lake  and  the  critter  gets to withing 20 yards  or less from us and stops  and    stands on a sunken log and  I see it’s an  Otter!  WOW  that’s a trip….  I’ve seen  river otters  before  but never  this close and never  all alone with just us,   especially here….. like  20 minute walk from home….   the three of us just hung out  watching each other for a bit , he didn’t seem  bothered  by us and  I don’t know that Duke ever even saw him… Duke  would not make a  good hunting dog LOL..he’s oblivious to most  critters.. except squirrels/chipmunks…. if he sees a  nut eater he’s  gonzo…….

Here’s a couple photos of our  new  friend the  River Otter

Otter10 Otter8

We left  the Otter   and   continued on our hike,  working our way down  trails, up  some steep  terrain  and worked our way all the way around the   wetlands…   we saw and heard  ( mostly heard) many different birds… I say mostly heard because the jingle jangle of  Dukies  Tags    makes it hard to sneak  up on them for  photos… I saw a Pileated  Woodpecker in  flight and on a tree…I love those  birds,  they are the  coolest woodpecker  ever  (In my opinion) …. saw lot’s  of  red winged blackbirds (They love the wetlands) , robins,  heard  several Stellar’s Jays ( My favorite Jay) ,   lot’s of  Spotted Towhee’s  and  one  amazing humming  bird that was  perched on a  tiny branch  and was an  incredible photo op that I missed….. but the memory of the sight is  amazing in itself…  imagine old  growth forest at your back, stepping out into a meadow,   ground covered in  purples and greens, yellows  reds,  brown  and  orange  with  a few  budding  alders, a large dead  snag and  the perfect light for a silhouette of a  hummingbird  perched on the very tip of  a branch 5 feet in front of you…..heavenly sight….  it was sitting there  drying off from the dew  and  warming in the  light  after a night of slowed  metabolism and preparing for it’s day of flitting to and fro,  drinking the  nectar of the  spring flowers in bloom… it  started  his  hmmmmmmming  motor  hovered  just above the  branch  and sipped off  into the sunrise  before I could  get the focus set on the  camera… but what a   wonderful sight in the wilderness….it’s just  not the same when you see them in the wild as when you see them  at  your hummingbird feeder…  at least to me ….it’s just  more special  in the  wilderness… we also have a lot of   Spotted  Towhees  around these parts, they are  very pretty  birds  and I caught a  decent photo of this one  on our walk ..


We  ended up walking   for  well over two hours ( 2 potty stops  for me and  8056 for Dukie) we  were both soaked  from the  dew and the  the  rain  yesterday but  it was a  very nice walk.. here’s  two photos,  one from  each side of the “wetlands”  as  we went all the way  around  them….

towards the  beginning of our morning  looking  south west from the trail,  a calm  morning…I love reflection photos….. that’s what I’m doing out there too… reflecting…


This is the view almost   exactly opposite  from the one above –   from the trail   looking back across the wetlands  to the North East…


You can see the rest of the photo’s  from this walk in my  Facebook album  “Click Here

Here’s the  GPS  tracker that shows   the route we  took  on our walk… and I only had a  few   episodes of SVT  and SOB  on this walk 🙂


After the walk  Dukie and I   went  to  Starbucks and got   two   Grande Skinny Vanilla  Lattes  and headed home to momma  to  enjoy the  rest of this wonderful day , we’re going to hit the  farm stand and get some  fresh fruits and veggies and  knowing me more things to plant…. and then probably take  Duke for another walk later 🙂  He should  be a  tuckered out  boy tonight!!

I hope you  all have  beautiful days!!

Stay Safe, Be Kind, Keep the Park Clean, Pay it forward, Make a Difference and One Love






One thought on “The Early Bird gets the Otter!

  1. What a lovely walk you two had. Thanks for sharing all its damp joy with us! Just the way it should be in this part of the world. And those reflections! That second otter picture, even though I’d seen it already, threw me. On first glance I thought it was upside down! 🙂

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