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 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.

April 13, 2013

So, here we are, the snow-slush is pounding against the windows, and two of our beloved children are camping at higher elevations with their…beloved and hopefully beloved. We are warm and snug here in our home wishing the best for all of them.

Earlier today we drove up to where they were/are camping, curious to what the weather was like (snowing! snowing!).  We went beyond their campsite, up further into the hills and hiked. Caught some bizarre little leechiginous life  forms that clung to Darwin and me, a big stumpy thing that dad (had to) haul back, and a couple of branches with promise as curtain rods.

Purely out of curiosity we drove through the campground, they weren’t there. Continued down the road and (voila!) passed all of the expected cars in convoy with a wave from Lana. If she was another ilk, it might’ve been a finger.  Were we intruding? Questionably. But we were…hiking! And it was windy where we lived, and only snowing like a banshee where they were. Choices, choices. But we didn’t do the creepy parent thing and turn around. No, we went home and talked, and walked, and cooked and wondered if we would have a convoy of cold, wet Marines and their girlfriends come calling, looking for shelter and hot apple pie.

So far, no go, so we hope they are all bonding in a cocoon of youth, warmth, and adventure.