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The girls and I had one more camping trip in early October. Due to unseasonably warm weather, fall colors were few and far between. The light was amazing though. Every morning, I took my coffee to the beach and watched the sunlight spread across the mountain and the tall trees. Sky and Luna both posed for photos. Luna managed to go for walks the first four days but by day five, she was tuckered out and did not really want to do much. I think she was relieved when we left the next day. However, she still wants to go camping. She loves the smells and the lake and just being out and about. The best thing about that trip was that we mostly had the campground to ourselves. Hardly anyone else was camping. The worst thing about it was that somewhere a fence or gate had failed and six cows freely roamed about. They would parade through at least once a day. Sky got real good at chasing cows and Luna backed her up with barking.

This is my favorite trail, I’m pretty sure. I can return to it multiple times during a hiking season. It does have the very worst road though. It’s a place where the sub alpine larches are enchanting in their early summer greens and amazing when they turn golden in the fall. Pikas are frequently heard and sometimes seen while crossing the talus slopes. Earlier in the year marmots let loose with piercing calls to frighten even the bravest dogs and people too. Now they are underground. The pikas continue to harvest greens to dry in their ‘hay’ piles and then store under the rocks for the long cold winter soon to come.

At the trailhead, the wildfire smoke was thick – we could taste it as well as smell it. But we’d driven all the way so we headed out and gradually, there was less of it but it was always present. While I am not quite ready for winter to set in, it’s the only thing that will quell the wildfires burning in the mountains throughout the northwest.

What a strange fall it’s been. Unseasonably warm and very smoky from wildfires in the mountains. I have not been hiking as much as I’d like to. A friend was driving across the North Cascades so we met at one of the busy trailheads up there to soak in a few fall colors.

We have planted snags in our backyard. Why would anyone do that? Birds love them. They stop to rest, preen and watch for bugs. They wait their turns for the feeder and the bird bath. Sometimes they just watch. Yesterday there were six Western Bluebirds on one snag! Here are three different species – a juvenile Lewis Woodpecker, two Townsend’s Solitaires and an unusual sapsucker that Ken photographed with my camera. What are your thoughts on the sapsucker ID?

Our favorite dog walking trail has been off limits for months to protect nesting Sandhill Cranes. It was their second attempt to nest there. Last year, predators got their colts. A baby Sandhill Crane is called a colt and it is orange! This year, they lost one to a coyote but the other survived and the three of them have moved on. It is great news to have cranes nesting in our valley.

The girls were happy to get back to the wide flat trail through the woods, to the river. Luna can no longer negotiate steeper, rough trails, even with her braces. The braces give her good support and she gets along ok but not for far. Her back legs are growing weaker with the laryngeal paralysis and the braces are relatively heavy but they support her damaged Achilles tendons. It’s hard to get old. She still has an optimistic attitude most days and really WANTS to be her old self.

This was earlier in the month after we’d had a bit of rain. Lately we’ve had endless sunny, dry days.

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