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Yesterday was the hottest day of the year here. So far. It reached 100 on the valley floor. Sheesh. Did I mention that we are completely without air conditioning for at least another couple of weeks? It’s enough to make a girl and her dogs crazy.

We drove up Boulder Creek to the Freezeout Pass trailhead and headed up the trail to 8242 foot Tiffany Mountain. It was 73 when we started. I was soon sweating on the steep trail through the burned forest. Many trees have blown over since last summer (sort of like the situation at my house) so there was quite a bit of clambering over and around the deadfall. Once we got out of the trees, it was the same steep, rocky ascent to the summit. Horned Larks were all around us. This is a place where they nest each summer. The snow has only recently melted up there but already it’s very dry and dusty most of the way along the trail. Wildflowers are just getting started. They could use a little bit of rain but none is in the long range forecast. At the top, the view was the best I’ve ever seen up there. Not a cloud in the sky and little haze either. I could see Mount Baker and Glacier Peak to the west and Moses Mountain to the east. And there wasn’t much wind either. On the way down, the wind picked up and I didn’t linger in the burned forest. The trees groaned and creaked and swayed in the wind.

We stopped at Boulder Creek to cool our feet on the way home. The dogs probably enjoyed that part more than the hike. I experimented with using my knee as tripod to get some pretty water images.

Back at home, it was 87, in the house.

Luna and I went to Big Valley this morning. It is one of the MVSTA winter ski trails where a person can take her dog and it is a great place for a contemplative walk the rest of the year. My computer has been under the weather recently so this post is from my phone. That is why it might seem klunky and abbreviated.

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Luna

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We will be skiing across this field in a few months

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Bear marks?

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Pine drops

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Not too cold for swimming yet

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Methow River

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Puffball

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Love this trail

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Wasp nest

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Old aspen

This is my busy season. I’ve had two weddings to photograph within one week so that means LOTS of computer time. It is important that I continue to get out and enjoy the beautiful place where I live for my overall fitness – both physically and mentally.

Last week Jennifer and her horse and two dogs joined Luna and me for a walk on the four mile long Black Lake trail. It follows Lake Creek on a gentle grade making for easy walking without huffing and puffing. This was a test for Luna to see if she could tolerate being around a horse. She has a long-standing fear of large ungulates stemming from an incident when she was less than a year old and managed to anger a large draft horse so much that the normally gentle animal turned and appeared to try to run Luna into the ground. Never mind that the horse was behind a fence and Luna was barking her fool head off. You can imagine how immense this draft horse was from her point of view. And those hooves! Luna turned and ran all the way back to the house where she waited under the porch til Betty and I went back for her. So now, along comes Jennifer and her horses and she suggests that we all go riding together. Luna is friends with Jennifer and her dogs so when they were all fine with the big animal Luna sort of fell into step with the rest of the group although she did not like it when the Whiskey, the horse fluttered her lips and made that funny horse noise and she was mostly sure to keep a good distance between herself and the horse.

 

For the life of me, I cannot find this flower in my field guides. I know I’ve looked it up before and figured out its ID but not this time

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It is a vine with clematis-like flowers

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Riding through the burned forest

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My, what big eyes you have!

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Lovely wildflowers in this burned forest

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Since it is a burned forest, every year, more snags fall across the trail. Here, we were near the lake but were turned back by the deadfall.

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Jennifer manages to keep the dogs’ attention with a good story or maybe the promise of treats

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It burned in 2003

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Paintbrush and lupine and Luna wondering why I have to stop to look at all the flowers!

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The dogs found comfort in this old beaver pond. Unfortunately, Luna chose to get out in a mud hole, and emerged coated in mud up to her belly.

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Jennifer got a good laugh out of that, especially knowing I’d have to take Luna down to the raging creek to wash her off before we could get in the truck.

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Lake Creek

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The last few days have been full of contrasts – brilliantly sunny skies paired with temperatures in the single digits, if not below zero. There has been no time for standing around enjoying the views. Walks are brisk; ski trips are purely aerobic. Little birds have swarmed the feeders while the Sharp-shinned Hawk keeps an eye out for the slow ones. The dark night skies are full of more stars than you can even imagine, however as cold as it is, it’s hard to do much star gazing.

 

One day a light wind filled in the trail with compacted snow.

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There’s something about this line that I really like.

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Hard to imagine how cold it is in this picture.

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Those are the sledding trails from New Years!

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I tried digi-scoping with my little camera on my scope. There’s a real knack to getting it right.

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Long shadows on a sunny day

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Pine needles stuck in the snow

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Luna got a little hoar frost on her muzzle

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Interesting ice form on the deck railing

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It’s been a few weeks since I had a nice hike in the mountains. I had grand plans for a hike every week this summer and have fallen far short of that goal. Yesterday’s hike was a good one. With the passing of Labor Day and the start of school, it sems that summer is over. Nights are cooler and days are way shorter. The light is marvelous and the air is crisp making for perfect hiking conditions. Luna and I drove most of the way to Slate Peak and then took the Buckskin trail down into the basin below the lookout. We left the trail and rambled through the basin and then up to the ridge where we found the West Fork of the Pasayten trail and returned to the road and walked back to the car. It was not a long hike but it was long on views and surprisingly, quite a few flowers. There were also lots of migrating birds – in particular I noticed Cooper’s Hawks, American Pipits and White – crowned Sparrows. Also many finches in flight that I could not identify.

 

Almost to Mazama on highway 20 I saw this free range or feral piano, abandoned by the side of the road. There was a package of castors to replace the broken ones. I’ve seen bbq’s, out dated tv’s, couches, even old satellite dishes; but this is the first time of seen a piano on the side of a road.

 

Luna is wearing red because it’s hunting season and more than once I’ve benn told that she looks like a black bear.

 

This photo needs some arrows to show our route. Our trail drops down there in the shade on the bottom right of the image and then you can barely see it crossing the talus (rock) slope to the left before it drops down into the meadow. We crossed through the larch trees and on the other side of them left the trail to ramble up through the basin and to the ridge, where we joined the second trail and it took us to the road just below and to the left of the lookout on the high point.

Red leaves show that there’s already been a frost. It was 42 in the sunshine when we started our hike. I was glad I had a jacket and wool gloves.

 

Luna is already out on the trail.

 

In the meadow there were lots of flowers. Here is a paintbrush (Castilleja sp) with blue gentian in the background

 

I love the dark blue gentian, a late summer flower in the high country.

 

Looking back at the trail as we enter the trees.

There was a family of Cooper’s Hawks calling loudly and flying around in this area.

 

Moss shows that the area is still wet despite the fact that we’ve had no rain in a month or more.

 

I could not resist this tiny scene

 

How many months of lupine are there? Seems like I’ve been seeing it since April!

 

Pink monkeyflower and its shadows.

 

More paintbrush. I saw at least three different colors of it.

 

Someone’s burrow. It is pretty good sized. Maybe a marmot? I think they live in rocks. A wolverine?

 

Another view looking back. We’ve left the trail and are heading up now.

 

And looking down valley. Within a month all those larch (tamarack) trees will turn golden and their needles will begin to drop.

 

A much-needed rest in the shade.

 

Now we are higher than when we started.

 

My cell phone has a compass app. I wonder how it works even without a cell signal? Any ideas?

 

Looking north towards Canada. The stunted spruce and other species of trees at high elevations are sometimes referred to as krumholtz – crooked, bent or twisted

 

Luna was happy to find two lingering snow patches

 

And up to the road. It was almost a mile walk back to the car.

 

Views to the west from the road. That’s Mount Baker in the middle.

 

And a last view of the lookout

 

We stopped in a silver forest to look for birds. Mostly Yellow-rumped Wablers. Also a Townsend’s Solitaire.

 

An aster next to the creek.

 

Ahhhhhh.

 

 

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