Lizards and Turkeys and Bears, Oh, My!

Every time I step out of my front door in hiking boots, I have an adventure. Weldon Wagon Road is a straightforward trail that promises a low-key, relaxing sort of hike. But my friends and I encountered an enchanting menagerie of furry, feathered, and scaled personalities before the day was out.

As usual, “The hills were alive with the sound of music!” (Try to pretend I’m singing in Julie Andrews’ clear, unspoiled voice several octaves above my own.)P1030837 020What you don’t see in these pictures is that the hills were also being whipped to smithereens by a wind so boastful, it regularly attempted to remove our clothing. Myrtie nearly lost her hat a few times and not in a financial way. If it weren’t for a powerful sun warming us in between blasts, we wouldn’t have been smiling.P1030857 040We caught the peak of the Balsamroot out there. Balsamroot is the Northwest’s very own personal “sunflower,” the perkiest harbinger of spring available. Just being around them improves my mood. And, pleasantly, they travel in gangs.P1030861 044Of course, they were not alone. Giant Head Clover was sweetening the air.P1030927 110Columbia Pucoon was pucooning.P1030922 105

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Coast Manroot was gearing up to produce the Wild Cucumbers that resemble certain body parts that earn it it’s prurient nickname.  P1030931 114My favorite wild-caught blue after forget-me-nots is Grand Hound’s TongueP1030885 068

P1030884 067This bizarre bent oak bower occurred in nearly every inclined drainage. Trees were inexplicably leaning towards the low point of the run-off despite it being an area protected from the wind, receiving negligible snow. Hmmm….P1030828 011In the thick of the forest we spied a dance troupe of saphrophytic coralroots and these bizarre formations: an impressive little field of Black Elfin SaddleP1030887 070So back to Dorothy’s lions and tigers and bears. We talked about mountain lions a little bit but didn’t see any. The King of the (Northwest) Jungle was nowhere to be seen but The King of the Rock was everywhere. Here is a regal pose of abject bravery considering how much fun he was to catch and hold:P1030868 051And as for tigers, well, we didn’t see any of those, either. Instead, I thrilled in seeing my first wild turkeys. Two gigantic Toms the size of La-Z-Boy ottomans e54a5d42ed7d51fa3d9938f8e49fc0abwandered out of the trees just below us and decided we were not to be trusted. No fanfare or discussion, they merely spread their wings, pulled up their landing gear, and floated away across the steep valley like two skilled paragliders. My friends told me that the chalky blue necks I saw that day become brilliant cobalt during the mating season and they get to watch the whole spectacle in their back yard–the gobbling, the strutting, and the glorious spreading of tail feathers. Lucky ducks.

We continued past the end of the trail up a road of clear cut to see a view of Mt. Adams that I knew about. The mountain wasn’t showing us his cards that day but on the way up, we got an eyeful of Dorothy’s final nightmare. Myrtie spotted him first. We were ambling down the road, casual as you please, when she froze and pointed to a cloud of 9619afb146ebde9e9e7d3fa4528e8935dust and a gloriously thick rump of brown fur shimmying away from us at top speed. I had inclinations to get closer with my camera but Ted shot me a horrified look that would have won Jack Nicholson a second Oscar in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” We walked on.

Turkeys and bears do not typically pose for paparazzi so the only National Geographic moment I captured all day was an amazing flying circus of lenticulars performing for Mt. Hood. P1030919 102

May 2, 2010