Walk in my diesels

Up  before the sun on Saturday morning, not intentionally but  you  make the  best of it.  Hobble  downstairs  stiff and sore,  your feet hurt,  your back  hurts, you have your typical morning headache, you slept like  crap  but hey you do know  that you are alive!!   Make your way to the miracle maker…. ( most people call them a  Keurig but not you…) it’s set to come on at 5 AM on it’s own,  but that’s  still  more than an  hour away….turn it on and, put in  the second to last  Starbucks  Tribute Blend  K-Cup …. you feel  a sadness that  there’s  only one left,   but it’s OK  you still have  6 boxes  of Tribute  VIA  that consoles you….Grab your mug, put it under and hit brew….and the miracle  that is  coffee appears in  your cup.   Taking the  cup  you  head to the back porch.  It was  a beautiful night and  the pre-dawn  birds are  just starting to chip, you hear a  robin chip chip cheerioing like  a  proper  British Lady who’s had  a few pints too many.  The cheep cheep  cheep cheep of the chickadees,  the  squeaks and chirps of the  swallows….. the  temperature is just right for your robe.  One hand holding the  mug of  coffee, you cup the other around the rim, putting your  nose to the  brim  breathe  in the  earthy steam  rising off of  the dark, soothing liquid… your first sip  is a  tentative slurp  off the top  to get the herbal flavor  across your tongue and  to make sure it’s not too  hot….perfection in a cup…

Sitting back in your  lawn chair, drinking your coffee, you  take in the predawn quiet, but you realize  it’s not  so  much  quiet as it is   peaceful. The sounds of life without man’s “noises”.   You secretly  pretend  that it’s post apocalyptic times  but everything still works  there’s just no  people  except you and your loved ones….no terrorists, no evil aliens,  no funky  diseases just you and nature and your friends and family…no  wars, no pollution,  no abuse..no negativity at all….. peaceful….  you   sit and quietly sing  “Imagine”  by John Lennon, so  quietly you’re not so much singing as  just imagining  the song is there in the  air around you,  it’s easy if you try…

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

The sunrise isn’t  far off, the  sky is brightening up, your 1st cup of coffee is  gone…and the first  dilemma  of the day hits you…. do you   take the last  Tribute K-Cup? It’s  your favorite….. or do you save it for another day??? It’s  decided  you choose  Sumatra  as your next  cup.  As you start on your 2nd cuppa joe, you  give yourself permission to  come back to reality. Power on the laptop, check email,  check  Facebook,  catch  up on your  words with friends  games… check the news and weather, the news stinks… the weather well,  some would  call it  fabulous  80’s today..  you  would  call that way too hot… your spouse tells you that’s  because you never wear shorts   but  that’s not it…. you grew up in the hot and humid Midwest and South,  shoot  you lived in  Exmouth, Western  Australia  for 3  years  where it was 120 in the summer and no less than  70 in the winter….  all in jeans and cowboy boots…. or  full military  gear…no shorts…. unless you’re at the beach or  camping. Been there, done that  and settled in  Western, Washington  where it’s moderate temperatures  most of the year… so  if it’s  gonna  be that “hot”   you better   consider  getting out early  and  getting your  walk on……

It’s a personal challenge to you to be  6’2″ and 266 pounds and still  have ninja like  skills… but you  take that  challenge  seriously, you’ve used it to sneak up on  deer and elk for archery hunting…you’ve used it to sneak out of the house as a teenager  …it’s an art that’s for sure…and you  employ those  skills  to get back  upstairs without waking your  wife, who doesn’t  need a wink of  beauty sleep, but you  do want her to be well rested…you’re so good  even the dog doesn’t  wake up!  You  have an awwwwwwe   moment  quietly to yourself as  you see her laying there sleeping  so peacefully  with  your  dog laying next to her with his head on your pillow…you really want  a photo of that to enjoy the beauty and peacefulness of the moment  but you  know better…. so  “click, click”  in your minds lens as you   capture the mental image of  ones you love to store  in  your mind when you need  it, which is  pretty often….. you force yourself to leave the beautiful  view so as not to  disturb them and  make it to the master bath , stealthily  close the door,  turn on the  light in the closet and get  dressed. You put on  your typical  jeans and tee shirt,  pull on  your socks, take your morning  pills, turn out the light and sneak back out….. your next dilemma  of the  day is to wake her and tell her what you’re  doing  or just leave a note…… lately you’re not in the    best of health so you  decide you’d better  wake her briefly to  tell her what you’re doing, or face some wrath if you’re not back before she wakes up…. honey, sweetie… huh what? what are you dressed for?  what time is it? … shhh it’s  5:30 and  go back to sleep I’m just going for a  dawn hike, I’ll be back  soon ..you crazy…ok but be careful, are you taking Duke?  No,  not on this one, I want to explore some new trails and  he’s still  tired from yesterday’s  walk… ok..Love you… Love you more… a quick kiss and  downstairs you go, pull on and lace up your diesels….( you  call your hiking boots  diesels  because  – dees’ll get you here and dees’ll  get you there, dees’ll  get you everywhere!) ,  grab the  camera , stick a  bottle  of water in your  back pocket,  clip  your trusty Leatherman, flashlight  and  buck knife to your belt and head out the  door…….ah  crud…  you forgot your cell phone… go back and grab it, only because it has a  GPS tracker app on it so  your wife can track you due to your health issues…. ok  now  hit the pavement.  Up the street,  dawn is just breaking ..

morning has  broken” is running through your head….. you  get to the trail head and into the woods. The  fresh  aroma of spring is in the air,  temp is in the   50’s –   just right for a hike. It’s still  a little dark on the trail,  you are  surrounded by douglas fir,  cedar,  maples,  cottonwoods all  with new  growth, you can almost hear them  reaching up to the sun…stretching their limbs,  the new leaves unfurling  to take in the  sun. Releasing  the pure oxygen touched with each of their  scents….you’re  wrapped in their life giving beauty and  drawn deeper into the woods. You  come out of your nature  trance  as you come to a  road  that you have to cross,  checking both ways, there’s  not a  soul in sight, that’s  nice….. cross and  back into the woods….  another mile and  you  come to one more road, next are the  railroad  tracks…  you go down the hill  and   even though you  know  there aren’t any trains, your life has taught you  to look both ways and  even feel the  track to be sure  there isn’t a final  light at the end of your tunnel  on the way  for you… you debate  putting your  ear to the  track  just for old times sake but  figure if you get down there you might not get back up….so  you  cross over the  tracks and head up the hill on the other side. You’re soon surrounded by old grow the forest..  trees as big around as a  corn silo from the midwest..  moss all around them, no way to tell which way is North by the trees here…  you   wonder how many  critters live up in those high boughs…. it’s hard to leave behind the  magnificence of old growth, except  you have the hope that you’re going to get to the bog, the  stream and the lake where you ran into  the river otter when last you were here….  you  part ways with  100+ years of  beauty and  move down the trail to the clear-cut  where the high tension  power lines  run… all the way  to Canada…  power  generated by our dams  and delivered all along the way up and into Canada… you can feel the  electricity in the air as well as hear the  crackles and pops… not much wildlife here… just the blackberries, grasses, weeds and  scotch broom (noxious and invasive plant).. it can  be pretty at times,  but it grows so  fast and dense that it takes over…

(View facing south-east from the powerlines)


As you make your way  across the clear-cut you  see a  black bird   high up in an old snag. You guess  by it’s  size and the neck  feathers that it’s a  Raven. You love seeing Raven’s in the wild as  you know intimately how smart they are, that they are self aware and problem solvers… and  they are  believed to be the creator and the trickster… in your heart you know how special these  birds are..so special to you that you  honestly don’t think of them  as “birds” , you  think of them all as  friends….(even though you know if you keeled over right now it would come eat your eyeballs)  you raise the  camera to your eye, zoom in and your suspicion is  confirmed, snapping a few photo’s  you  say hello  dear friend,  thank you for watching over me on my hike…and allowing me  to photograph you.

(The  Raven at the edge of the tree line high up in a snag)



You cross the man-made swath of land  and   reenter the forest.  It’s  daylight now,  6:30AM  slightly overcast but  warming up quickly… you’ve already got sweat on your brow. you walk down the  trail a bit and  come to a  stream running in a draw under the  trail…you look closer at the trail and think..this must be an old   railroad  track or something and make a mental note to research that….  but for now, you  need a  break…. stop and enjoy the sound of water running  through the forest , take out your own bottle of water and  grab a sip… between the two of them it makes  make you have to pee..go figure… good thing you’re a  guy…  the world is your urinal… you find an animal trail  that leads down towards the  stream and find a tree, take care of business and  break  time is over..

(The stream from the trail looking southwest)


(The animal trail you “went” down  and the  stream on the other side of the trail  – North East)


You leave the  Bob  Ross like  “happy little stream” with the happy trees over there and the happy bushes and ferns  over here…. and you  head on down the trail… the trail that from a  distance looks like a  tunnel….  to you it’s a  tunnel  to tranquility  because you know what lies on the other side… to some that haven’t been there it   may be  a tunnel of trepidation  or even even  fear… but not you…


about halfway through the “tunnel” there is a small  offshoot  trail… you know this is the way  you want to go based on smell alone, even if you didn’t already know  this was  the way to the  “Black Lagoon”  where you met  Mr. Otter  before…  you can tell. You’ve  got a decent knack of direction and a sense of where you are in the forest in relation to known  points…it’s a  downhill narrow winding trail that  takes you  to the edge of the lake, back  through the  wetlands and forest,  twisting an turning. About a  mile later  you hear a KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK ……..KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK  ooh a woodpecker is close!  Could  be a  downy or a hairy,  probably is a Northern Flicker you’ve heard them in the  woods this morning calling and knocking far off…  but this is  close! Well no matter which kind it is  you want a photo!! Into super ninja birder mode!!… Watching every step, you go off the trail, make yourself invisible to sight and sound….you  locate where the sound is coming from… a   standing  mostly dead (“There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive” ~ The Princess Bride) Douglas Fir…..but  dadgum  scots broom is  in the way of where the KNOCK KNOCK KNOCKING  is coming from…. WAIT…… you see a flash of  red…  could it be a Pileated Woodpecker??  nah  still probably downy or hairy  no way  you’d get this close to a Pileated….and it probably wouldn’t be that low to the ground…only  4 feet up the base of the tree…  Here’s  what you see at first:


so you need a  better angle  obviously…..   Ninja Skills re-engage!! sneaking over  and around logs and  brambles, brush and branches you  make your way to a large Cedar  about 20 feet from the   subject… you  sneak the camera out from around the  tree and snap a  photo , bring it  back to you and you see   the object of your desire…. it’s a blurry photo of a Pileated  Woodpecker!! DSCN4417

HOLY CRAP  this is  soooooooo cool……  ok  calm, ninja,  calm ninja…. sooooo cool….so you get on the ground  and  say a  quick prayer to Mother Nature to please let  you see this amazing bird in action… wiggling, quietly, slowly creeping your way around you  put your head out around the  tree and  you see  him…pounding away at the  tree,  chunks of  tree are flying off  and he’s   seemingly oblivious to your  closeness , his focus is intent on getting to the  bugs and goodies in the  mostly dead tree..that’s  what’s on  his mind at the moment…. you inch the camera up and  grab a  few photos, thinking he’s  bound to notice you at anytime and  be gone in a flash  and laughing at you like Woody Woodpecker…  you’re actually  able to  get some decent shots….  you  are THRILLED and  even though you could sit here all day,  you have bugs crawling on you and a  spider on your arm…  go on now little  spidey  you’re tickling me…. You  creakily  get back to your  feet,  can’t stay   still for too long or  things lock up on ya….  back behind the tree , brush  off the dirt and  put little spidey  friend on a  leaf and wish her well..  there’s no way  at this point that the  bird is still there… but sure enough  he is..you’re now in full view so  you raise the camera and  grab some video of him going to town on the  tree……carving out his  rectangles…

you  silently wish him well and you hit the trail back towards the bog and lake………..TO  BE CONTINUED…..

Will  you see the Otter?  What other  wonders  await you on the morning  hike?  Do you want to know??  Did you make it home? Did you get lost in the wilderness for days???  If you want to finish the walk  let me know in the comments  below….

3 thoughts on “Walk in my diesels

  1. Hey Mike-it sounds like a wonderful walk (hike). Wish I could have gone along. Beautiful scenery and beautiful birds to go with you and entertain you. I want to hear more!

  2. Very nice and relaxing.What a Beautiful place!
    That woodpecker was awesome!! He looked so big and like he was a hammer on that tree!
    Thanks for sharing! Luved it!

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