Simple Gifts

I believe I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world; the Snoqualmie Valley. I get to see amazing things everyday. It's time to celebrate that. (You can view pictures in larger format by clicking on them)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Heading towards Thorp

Alan and I planned to go bird watching on Monday. We got a late start. In some ways, our best bird (for me) was before we ever officially hit the road. We grabbed lunch and ate at the Mt Si trailhead. We sat by this beautiful woodland stream. We were down next to the water beside the foot bridge. I saw a small bird fly under the bridge and thought "Dipper!" Sure enough, it landed beside us. It stayed fairly close for a bit eying us. I think we had invaded it's turf. Then it went underneath the bridge and did it's wonderful dipping maneuver and next it wandered around in the stream briefly. After that it landed on the bridge and peered down at us. I think it decided we weren't leaving for a bit and flew off for better hunting grounds.

Our first stop, the trail is across the river

Then we headed east. We were looking for access to the John Wayne Trail. We went through Cle Elum and going towards Thorp. There was one problem, the trail was on the other side of the river. We kept driving and darn if the trail didn't stay on the other side of the river. I always enjoy going to the east side though, such different habitat from my forests. It was become clear that we weren't going to run into any bridges to connect us to the trail. Alan said stop when we were near an old train tunnel on the trail. I think that was it, but as always my attention to train stuff is not all that great. But I did pay attention to the weather. It was hot and windy. Really windy! It was neat, because I had just heard Jeff Renner (a weatherman) talk about Washington weather and he mentioned the downslope winds that come off in the mountains. In the winter they blow West and whip through my home town, but in the summer they blow east. It was so windy I wasn't able to hold my camera or myself very steady. After noticing the weather, I started taking in the beauty of the area. And there was a cool rock formation across the canyon. I took some pictures of that and then wandered down the road a bit (Coal was restless). Alan was still taking pictures and looking for trains.

I could have sworn I took a picture of the train but all you can see is tracks!

Down the road was a farm, the green a stark contrast to all the yellow, dry desert look. I saw a bird fly up. It had a white tail band and looked like a grouse. I went back for binos and noticed that there were at least 5. We were having troubles identifying them. I've done a lot of research and it suggests what we saw was a Sage Grouse. (OK, so I'm writing this entry a week after the trip, but I'm archiving it to the actual date, so I'll remember when we went). It reminded me mostly of a Blue Grouse, but of course that's what I'm familiar with from the forest setting. We also saw a Peregrine Falcon fly by. That was great! I briefly doubted what I saw because it didn't fly like a Peregrine, but then again, the winds were so strong it made me wobble as I stand so that explained why the flapping seemed odd. Somewhere in all the bird excitement a train came by. Alan was delighted. I have to admit there was something quite nice about the train snaking through the valley.

A view of the mountains at our second stop

Then we turned around and headed back. Did I mention it was hot. And the river was tantalizingly close. So we found another stopping point with a 'trail'. Well, that's what we thought at first. Alan was in the lead and we headed down the 'trail'. It's funny, because I just posted about my trail blazing experiences and here I was doing it again, because the trail completely disappeared. We hadn't gone far before I realized I was in shorts and pretty much everything had thorns. Of course the sensible thing would have been to turn back, but I am often not sensible. Poor Coal, I must be driving him nuts with all this insensible behavior. After a long and difficult bush whacking we reached the river, which was deep and fast and down an inaccessible bank. So we turned back. Alan and I got separated as I had to chase after Coal who had found some standing water to drink and cool off in. It was hot to me, and I didn't have a black fur coat on. I kept hearing Alan call through the brush. He had followed his trail when I followed. Coal had decided he had enough. It was hot and he was old and this was just plain stupid. So, I had to coax him through the brush. I thought I'd found a good way back and I got in this nice meadow for a bit but then the brush was thicker then ever. Once again Coal refused to come and Alan was calling on the otherside of the thick brush. So I had to push myself through and drag Coal through. Apparently I flushed some warblers Alan's way. By the time we reached the car we were hot and thirsty Coal was mad at me. (He went and sat by Alan and wouldn't even look at me). My legs were a mess of scratches... and yet, I had quite a lot of fun. I did mention I don't have much sense.

We ended at Lake Easton State Park where we ate and enjoyed the cool of the forest. All and all, another exciting and successful trip.


Blogger Alan said...

purty cool


my reason for stopping was that we were running out of canyon, which was debouching into rolling farmland & far less scenic

seemed like we should stop & admire the scenery a bit

we did

it was a fine stop


it was a fine outing


9:59 PM  

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