owl sounds

Still a touch bedraggled from a week of sleeping on the ground with the bugs in the San Juan Islands, Adam nevertheless cheerfully joined me for this walk which I’d been saving myself up for (don’t fail me now, feet) and by the end of the day we’d meandered twelve enjoyably convoluted miles over the ruggedest kind of parkland. He’s such a good sport, part of me worried I totally bamboozled him back at the house as to particulars of the journey but never a single time did he complain so I won’t bother humorously kvetching here about the sticky, preternaturally coagulated, titaniumized mass of formerly chocolate mints which had spilled then moltenized in his rucksack, that will require industrial sandblasting for removal lest a trail of fresh-breathed ants find their way out of the closet under the stairs to let the entire colony know about the chocolatier offering free samples.

July 2019 - Gem Lake 578

This is unique backcountry at the mountain pass above our town, an exceptional place to wander artistic cracks and hollows in rock gardens of tangled elfin trees and heather. After scooting an absentminded vole off the path and admiring curiously uncurious pikas and other small mammals of the subalpine we climbed over dinner-plate and Yugo-sized felsenmeer to a mountaintop where we signed the summit register containing soggy papers but which left us sunny inside. Halfheartedly attempting a sketch of the complicated basin below us, Adam folded his pencil box shut (not before losing a brown #5 in the rocks) in favor of more chocolate and listened with me to the sounds of quiet. For the descent we followed interminable contours into crannies, crossing parklike meadows down the mountainside into forest at dusk where we listened to the chattiest owl in bird history, shortly thereafter making the acquaintance in the dark of one Recently Retired Rodney of Ellensburg (where he has lived all his life excepting a brief spell in Denver) who having spent the week on the Pacific Crest Trail commencing some seventy miles north and having detoured to some hot springs for a soak and having made a laborious ascent earlier that morning via wickedly overgrown trail, was gladder than glad to see us and join in the owl fun. A delightful companion for the remainder of the walk, we gave him a ride (told you he was glad to see us) to the petrol station across from the ski hill in order that he could wait for his friend taxi from Ellensburg on the other side of the crest, putt-putt-putt. Maybe buy himself a chocolate bar? He deserved it.

12 thoughts on “owl sounds

    • Hi Valarie. Have a good time at the get-together on Sunday, with your cousins. It will be a nice day for a reunion, I think. Hope you find just the right pictures to take along for the occasion.

  1. I like this idea of fresh-breathed ants, but worry it’ll screw up their colony pheromone I.D.
    Here they’re expecting the minty-chocolate thing will improve their dating prospects, and instead they get shown the door. Had to look up felsenmeer, glad I did, cool word.

    • John Muir is probably my most favorite of those three estimable historical figures (I’d love to see what kinds of images Adams would take in a place like this). Are you very familiar with the story of Muir and the dog Stickeen? The boys are particularly well-acquainted with that one……I read it to them over and over again. Recycled it like crazy until they in turn read it to me. We like that one a lot. Hope it’s cooling in southwest Washington. Answering you by an open window spilling swirling cool air and blinking red and white lights of humongous jets descending to the airport for the last arrivals of the evening….

  2. Don’t you wonder what that owl was carrying on about? Perhaps it was narrating your and Adam’s hike for its friends, like a closed-caption service for the wilderness. As for that sticky mess of goo in the backpack: Instead of sandblasting it, may I recommend surrendering it to the ants in earnest and letting them dispense with the sweets? Of course, there’s a risk that they’ll haul away the entire backpack — or maybe cover it in ant poo while they work. So never mind. As for your photo: BREATHTAKING. Maybe your feet will disagree, but to this reader that view would be worth every single mile.

    • Your guess is good as mine, about the owl. I’ll ask my neighbor who lives behind us, her opinion. She’s a fantastic lady who leads birding tours in the Arboretum (owls like it there) below us but also observes plenty in the wild. Maybe it was a frustrated fledgling that hadn’t been fed for some time? As always it’s a pleasure to hear from you. Sorry for the belated reply, Adam and I returned home yesterday afternoon after explorations and usual associated hijinks on the Olympic Peninsula since last weekend…..

      • I’ll be curious to hear your neighbor’s thoughts about the hooting owl, though your theory sounds pretty solid too.
        And no worries at all — ever — about any delay in replying. (I say this to soothe my own guilt as much as yours, since I’ve gone a couple of weeks sometimes between visits to WordPress.) It’s always wonderful to be in touch with you, too, no matter the timing.

  3. Looks like beautiful countryside – a place ants would choose to remain rather than following an odd minty smell (even if there was chocolate involved.)

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