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)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Yakima Canyon

Today was so wonderful, I barely have words!

Alan and I drove through the Yakima Canyon. This is true desert country and yet we are following a rich riparian area. Early in our trip we saw a raptor; some sort of large hawk that looked like it might be going through a molt. I was driving so I couldn't look too closely. But then the size and scale of the canyon took over for a while. Amazing rock formation and steep hills were astoundingly beautiful. It's amazing what wind and water can do to the land. Thousands of years ago, lava from Oregon covered the area. Now there is this deep, rich canyon. Some areas were softer, rounded, and covered with scrub but then there were sharp, jutting volcanic rock formations. I had to stop and take pictures. Alan also captured the scene at our first stop. My picture was taken when I remembered to look back behind us.

After that first stop we went to Umtanum Creek Canyon. We crossed a cool suspension bridge and headed down a trail that paralleled the creek at first. As we got under way I said I wanted to see Bighorn Sheep and a Rattlesnake. I was delighted to find cacti and a way cool bug. I was very curious about the insect, since I'd never seen one like that in real life. I picked it up but then it flew off. I knew I'd seen a picture and after walking for a bit I realized I'd been handling a Stink Bug! I guess I wasn't scary because I didn't smell the infamous stink. It just flew off. Then we moved into deeper brush. We heard the sound of crashing through the underbrush. Out popped some deer! This was how much of our trip went except the large animals were mostly Big Horn Sheep. It was just amazing how many creatures we scared out of the brush and onto the more open slopes of the canyons. And I did get to see a snake! It was a young gopher snake instead of the Rattlesnake but I was quite pleased. I was too slow to get a picture of course, but really I was just enjoying the beauty. It was so small compared to other Gopher Snakes I've seen, almost dainty.

We saw so much wildlife that I was literally bouncing with joy. When there were no animals was saw prints and scat. I could identify the scat of coyote and deer but there was some mystery scat. And yes, I'm now researching shit, because my curiosity is killing me. There were digging insects and the sounds of birds. We saw beaver dams, a lodge and chewed trees. Even without the animals there was so much to take in. I really enjoyed the bright lichen and rock formations. It was just so much beauty. I had troubles keeping up with Alan because I was so busy trying to experience everything. It's amazing I didn't fall down because I was not paying attention to my feet.

We only saw the cactus at the beginning of the trail

I'm so used to forest habitat. You may get to see an animal briefly but that it's lost in the lush growth. Here we could just watch the animals. And the deer stopped and watched us for a bit. So did the Big Horn Sheep. That was really great. We saw young following the adults across the steep, rocky slopes. I even heard them 'baahing'. We saw an even larger herd when we got back on the road. We stopped and watched them for a bit. Both on the road and on the trail we saw some incredible examples of camouflage.

It was just delightful viewing, it was so quiet too. Long periods would pass when the only human made sound was Alan and I walking. No cars or planes or other people to be heard. You could hear the insects chirring and the magpies cackling. You could hear the deer and sheep run across the rocks. We saw remanants of an old homestead with fruit trees. That's where we found much of the wildlife. Life on that homestead would have been harsh. The quiet made me think how lonely life would have been there. The fruit tress were still alive and squirrels fed happily on the pears and apples.

This picture gives no sense of the scale of the canyon

I wish I had the words to adequately describe my joy and the beauty but I really don't. I'm going to blog some more pictures but other than that I'll just list my sightings. I can't capture in words something so grand

  • Hawk (unidentified) - just before entering the canyon
  • Gopher Snake
  • Dragonflies-lots
  • Grasshoppers
  • Stink Bug
  • Butterflies (Swallowtails and others)
  • Mule deer
  • Big Horn Sheep
  • Columbian Ground Squirrel
  • Prairie Falcon
  • Goldfinch
  • California Quail
  • Kingfisher
  • Magpies (lots!)
  • Stellar Jays
  • LBB's
  • Spotted Towhee (heard not seen)
  • House Finch
  • Chickadees (heard not seen)
  • Turkey Vulture (seen while driving)
  • Osprey with fish being harassed by small bird (seen while driving)
I think I'm probably forgetting some things. And of course I haven't listed all the amazing scenic sights.


Blogger Alan said...

Beaver dams & lodges


9:34 PM  
Blogger Herman said...

So did I forget anything?

10:17 PM  
Blogger Eliza said...

fun, fun, fun!!

7:53 AM  
Blogger Herman said...

I definitely remembered the fun :)

8:47 AM  

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