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…..
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
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!!