July 28, 2013 (Middle Fork Teanaway River Hike)

Glorious! We found this hike in the Best Hikes for Dogs book. Looked wonderful, not too hard to account for Cooper’s aging hips. Only 300 feet of elevation gain in 3.5 miles one-way. It look us about 45 minutes to get to the trailhead, but the drive is so incredibly beautiful through Hidden Valley that the time flew by.

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I took loads of photos. There were 8 river crossings, which meant 16 opportunities for the pups to play in the water and for us to get our feet (and more) wet. Two of the crossings were crotch deep to me, so Darwin learned to swim!

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After the first time, once he got the hang of things, he had a ton of fun the next three times, and was first down to the water whenever the opportunity arose. Kinda funny given that a year ago we had to carry him across any body of water, no matter how small, because he refused to get his delicate polka-dot toes wet.

Cooper happily lazed in the water.

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We saw lots of rock. LOTS of pretty rock. Which means that we’ll be hauling rocks out of there for years to come. Of course David spotted a REALLY RED rock in the stream near the far terminus, and had to have it. So he scrambled down a steep hill and hauled it back out and I handled the dogs. Too funny, so predictable. Then, near the end, we stopped at Rock Crack Hill and found 3 more rocks to carry out. See where David’s pointing? He hid an especially comely rock in there to pick up the next time we pass through.

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Lots of pretty vine maple that begged for pictures. I’d like to maybe plant some here, down by the creek. VineMapleMFTR

Part of the trail turned into a stream. No idea why. The stream turned into a boggy little lake. We ended up quite muddy. Good thing there were more stream crossings to wash off the mud.

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This remote campsite along the river hasn’t been used for a while. Can you see how we can tell? IMG_2091

Darwin likes to roll after getting wet, which is fine after a nice bath because it’s out in the grass. Unfortunately, no nice clean grass was available, and he ended up quite the dirt ball.

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By the end of the hike Cooper was exhausted, so David had to pick him up and put him in the truck. When we got home he refused to get out of the truck, so David fashioned a ramp for him to walk down. Except for dinner, he has been laying on his sheepskin rug, all tuckered out, dreaming of sights, sounds, and scents of the day (I imagine).

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July 27, 2013 (First Creek Hike)

Do you ever wonder who names things? Have you ever thought “I could come up with wonderful names for streets and creeks and things! Where does one apply for such a position?” Case in point: First Creek. Why “First?” It certainly isn’t the first creek past the Hwy 970/97 interchange. It’s the second, just past Swauk Creek (Swauk? Why not…Bluebird Creek? or Idyll Glen Brook? See! I could do so much better than…Swauk.)

Anyway, back to the beginning of the day. Neighbors came by in the early morning to sign paperwork for the land deal. I was a proper housefrau and served coffee and Sweet Potato Pie bread. I must really like these folks, eh?

We headed up to hike the First Creek forest road with the pups midmorning. It was a warm morning, but there was a nice, cool breeze that made the 5-mile hike manageable. We stopped every 20 minutes or so to give them water. Darwin dashed from shady spot to shady spot in the road to cool off. Cooper was a trouper, as usual. Darwin found an elk leg. They wandered through weeds.

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I found butterflies – a Western Tiger Swallowtail

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and dozens of Zerene Fritillaries.

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(Isn’t Frittilary a darling name? And don’t you wish that the butterfly was still called a flutterby? Butterfly namers should work for the geographic naming things department.)

The pups were hot and hired, so we took a side trail near the bottom of the hike, and Cooper did what he loves to do best on a hot summer’s day.

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We then came home, ate a quick lunch, and took a short nap.

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July 20, 2013 (Mystery Hike)

Started off bright and early this morning to go rock hunting off of the Old Blewett Pass road. David found some gold and gem maps in town yesterday, and it looked like we’d surely hit the motherlode from the numerous types indicated in that area. So we packed up the rock picks and hammers and bags and whatnot and headed north into the sunrise (…and away from the wind. I hate wind.)

Soon after turning off onto Old Blewett Road we caught sight of a sizable herd of elk grazing just off the side of the road. One male had an amazing rack, but we couldn’t catch an accurate count of the number of points. Not long after that we sighted two creatures standing in the road looking at us. Honestly, at first we thought they were llamas standing there staring at us, their necks were so long and upright. Turns out it was two more elk, probably wondering who the heck was on their seldom-used road so early in the morning.

Just past the summit we found a spot to pull off the road. Nothing special. No signs or real indications that anyone ever thought to stop at this particular overgrown patch of weeks and rock. But, stop we did to take a look around. I noticed what looked to be an overgrown trailish thing, and we wandered in that direction. The trailish thing turned into what seemed to be an old Jeep track. Rhododendrons had taken over some areas, napweed (ick!) in others, but we kept on walking (always, always uphill) for probably an hour, maybe more. We didn’t look for rocks, just walked and enjoyed the fine summer morning, the sun on our backs, the occasional
chittering chipmunk racing across the “trail” or chattering bird warding us from their nests. Out of the blue, into the blue we walked, hitting a T in the road. We had reached the top of whatever mystery mountain we were on and encountered beautiful vistas of the Stewart range in one direction, and the far-off Cascades in another. Gorgeous! Extending to one side of the T was an actual “real” trail that traversed the west side of the mountain, and we wandered down that until we ran out of views and the trail went back into trees. I’m going to have to do some research to see if I can figure out where we were and if it is an actual trail.

We then headed back down toward home, stopping occasionally to ponder rockfalls/mammoth rocks alongside the road. David picked his way up a couple of scree-filled slopes to hack at boulders, tossing pieces down to me to catch. Well, silly! He knows I don’t catch
anything, and won’t even try. Especially a rock thrown from 20 feet in the air! I would simply watch it fall and try to find that specific rock among a thousand others just like it. They were basalt with some crystals embedded in them. We’ll have to clean them and bang on them a bit to see if they reveal any treasures.

Continued down the mountain and stopped off at Swauk Creek, certain we’d find gold. Eureka!…no. We did see some scat that looked like a really, really big kitty’s and 4 or 5 pawprints in mud that I will research when we get home (it was dog…boring!). Reminder to self – bring tracking books to the Eburg house because they are of no use in suburbia. We also saw a pretty butterfly – a Lorquin’s Admiral.

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From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lorquinsadmiral2.jpg

Also saw some checkerspots, but they wouldn’t hold still long enough for me to get a picture. Another note to self – don’t walk out the door without a camera! Geez! The cell phone camera pretty much sucks.

So, home we came, with no gold and only marginally interesting rocks, but happy after a nice hike that culminated in splendid views. David is napping on the couch, and I’m typing and wishing the wind would stop rocking the house.

July 14, 2013 (Acreage Accrual)

Woot! We bought the adjoining two acreage parcels, bringing our land baron acreage (lol) total to 20. We’ve been eyeing the land ever since we bought this place one year ago. The one directly to the east of us has a prime building site, with a large, flat meadow where the deer love to eat and nap – our view from the east side of the house. We couldn’t imagine having a house over there, so when the owner renewed his efforts to sell of all of his land holdings (he’s a major land baron around here!), we decided that those lots would likely be among the first to sell, given they have nice building sites and lovely views. This was a lesson learned the hard way when we bought our K-wick house 25 years ago. We were pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, with only a few houses around us. We had beautiful, unobstructed views to the north. Today – housing developments ate up every last bit of land and are even chewing up the hill behind us. Not going to happen at this house, not if we can help it.

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We are overjoyed to see that a couple of the huge, old Ponderosa pines that burned last year – every last needle was brown and their trunks were black – now are greening up. New growth at the ends of the branches! There is hope.

The boys got to do a little bit of buck chasing this morning out in the meadow. Darwin seems to be feeling better and his stools have firmed up a bit. Didn’t eat this morning, but he was bouncing along on our morning acreage reconnoiter walk. I hope he’s okay – as is, lately we seem to be putting the foundation in for a new wing at the vet’s, and it’s getting old. 

July 13, 2012 (Bad Weed)

And I’m not talking about marijuana! Seems that since last weekend our property has been overrun by the dread napweed. We’d never seen it before, hadn’t noticed it even though I had eyed it in our Northwest Weeds book. But then visiting neighbors mentioned “did you know you have napweed at the end of your driveway?” WHAT!? So, after they showed us the nasty weed we started seeing it everywhere, like it had sprung out of the earth at the mere mention of its name. It takes advantage of areas that have been disturbed, and given the amount of landscaping we’ve had done and all of the various earth-moving machines rumbling around the property, I guess it comes as no surprise.

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The 10 acres in back of us is awash in the stuff, probably due to the disturbance caused by cleanup of the “home site” after the fire. It couldn’t truly be called a home – more of an oddball hut and viewing platform. If there was one benefit of the fire, it was the removal of that eyesore. Hopefully the landowner will mow the acreage to help avoid seed spread.

Darwin has been sick. He has had to go outside about every 2 hours. He’s a pretty blue fellow, and has been since last Thursday night. I think, maybe, it was a bad reaction to the heartworm medication I gave him on the 10th. It’s a new brand. I’ll have to check the side effects when we get back to K-wick. Either that or it’s a partial bowel obstruction, which won’t be good. He has been very listless – he pooped out on our afternoon walk and I had to carry him for a bit. I haven’t had to do that since he was a little puppy. We had to take the scissors to all of the gorgeous long hair on his backside because clean up was becoming a chore that none of us relished.

Guess what? The wind didn’t blow! Which means that these weren’t moving (much). Beautiful sunset.

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July 7, 2013 (I Hate Mice)

What an odd day!

We got back from Anacortes yesterday, Saturday, and did a bit of outside work. Started a new puzzle, nice evening. Sat outside quite a bit and watched the birds and listened to the sounds of relative silence.

Forgot to mention that when we arrived on Wednesday, there were four dead mice in the kitchen. Looks like they were living under the dishwasher, went out for dinner under the stove, ate the poisoned food, and died on the way back home. Kinda yucky, but glad they were gone.

So, fast forward to Sunday morning. I noticed that my favorite afghan that was placed across the back of the sofa had a long (18 inches or so) rent in it. It certainly wasn’t there when we left on Friday – the hole was obvious and I would have seen it. I’m not sure it was even there on Saturday. Anyway, I sighed and folded it up and put it away. Figured I’d deal with what to do with it a later day.

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David looked around and mentioned that he found mice poop on the top-back section under the afghan. So, I got out the vacuum and cleaned it up. We then moved the sofa and vacuumed the floor. Went to put it away. Figured the kitchen boys had been wandering.

David pulled out the cushions to see if there was anything else we needed to clean. When I got back, he was inspecting something in the left-hand back corner of the sofa. A big wet spot! He asked if I had spilled anything – well, no! I felt it – wet and oily, and smelled my fingers (ick!) and it was definitely urine. David noticed some mouse poopies along the sofa bottom edge…we looked to the right side…and there was a bunch of my shredded afghan and wool from the dog’s sheepskin bed.

So, we’re standing there, looking at this mess, when I noticed the mess moved. Just a little. I exclaimed “David! It moved!” He’s looking around, trying to figure out what I’m talking about. I directed his attention to the couch, and all of a sudden there was a flurry of movement – at least six squirming, moist, hairless, blind, mewling baby mice were wedged into the back right-angle of the couch. Completely disgusting and upsetting.

(Here’s a link that shows baby mice by day – I’m guessing they were about 2 days old: http://www.thefunmouse.com/info/daybydaybabies.cfm)

I did the ‘gross out’ dance, trying to decide whether to faint or puke. David manned up to the task at hand and, well, sterilized the scene as best as he could.

I felt completely victimized – these damnable rodents had not only ruined a treasure that had taken weeks to make, but had defaced our new sofa! Manic Mama had also chewed one of the cushion backs. I still see red when I think about it.

So, David put mouse poison on the base of the couch, hidden by the partially replaced cushions. I fear that, given that the other mice only made it about 2 feet before dying in the kitchen, we shall return to a leaking, putrefying mouse on the couch on Friday, and we’ll never, ever get the smell out.

Sigh.

July 4, 2013 (Ingall’s Creek Hike)

Happy Independence Day! We are going to Anacortes tomorrow to do some antique shopping (with the Mini? seriously?), so we didn’t bring the pups. I’m sure they are less than thrilled.

We hiked about 3 miles of the Ingall’s Creek hike (6 miles total), up on the other side of Blewett Pass. I think it’s my favorite hike from a fun standpoint. It doesn’t have the views of Summerland, but it’s a really, really pleasant hike. I’m renaming it the Abandoned Arboretum hike because of the huge amount of trees and flowers.

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The trail is nicely kept up, but not fussy like some of the larger national parks. Elevation gain is fairly minimal. I only had to stop a couple of times to take a breather, and those only for a few seconds. I’d rate it a 2/3 on the difficulty scale. There are some beautiful views of the busy Ingall’s River.

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Lots of huge rockfalls. We had to traverse a couple, but those had a nice trail through them. Much better than crossing skree wondering if the entire hillside was going to let loose!

Butterflies were all over the place. Purple ones, and little red, orange and black ones, and big white and black ones. Couldn’t find any of them in the insect book. Pffft. (Update: Bought a new butterfly book, and I think the flutterbys were pine whites, checkerspots, and acmon blues.