Friday, June 28, 2013

June 28, 2013

A Tour Across FR 31 and a Visit to Ladd Marsh Refuge, 6-28-13

As we neared the high point of Forest Road 31, about 10 miles from Interstate 84, I panicked.
My cell phone no longer pressed against my right hip.
"I've lost my cell phone," I blurted to Darlene. She and Nora the Schnauzer turned concerned looks toward my face.
No doubt it slipped from my belt when I loosened it to, well, stuff in my shirt tail. I had done that several times as we meandered slowly from State Route 204 east of Spout Springs.
"I.m sure I had it after some of those stops," I said. "I remember loosening my belt when Nora and I walked through the yellow lupines on that slope above Summerville.

"And I may have done that again a few miles later when I spent so much time shooting the little butterflies on the yarrow. I don't remember that for sure."

I had no choice but to turnaround and search. If I lost the phone when shooting the butterflies, it would be easy to find, providing no one passed the spot and saw it before we got back.
That seemed unlikely. We had seen only two other vehicles since we turned onto Summit Road (FR 31).
If I lost it among the lupine it could be tough to find.

"Do you have your phone?" I asked Darlene. ""You call me and the sound may help me find the phone."
She had her phone, but she doubted if it would work in the mountains. Despite the high altitude, so did I. It seldom worked, period.
We left Walla Walla at 10:04 a.m. with the loose plan to check the wildflowers on the mountain.
We didn't see many along 204, but they abounded along Summit Road, especially after we passed Ruckle Junction: Balsomroot (hookers and arrowleaf), lupine, penstemon, buckwheat, wild hyacinth (brodea), larkspur, honeysuckle, paintbrush, Nora, onion, chives, stonecrop, big-head clover, Oregon gold, golden pea and so on, on and on.
We stopped first for the field of balsomroot at Ruckle Junction, 10 miles from 204. From there, every time we spotted a panoramaic view or an interesting looking blossom, we stopped.

And, more often than not, at each stop, I loosened my belt and, well, tucked in my shirt, prompted, I suspect, by the four cups of coffee consumed before leaving home and the Grande downed before reaching Summit Road.
My prospect of finding the phone after so many stops grew less likely the more I thought about it.
Yet, no more than five or six minutes after turning around, we approached the pullout where I spent half an hour shooting the pretty, accommodating little butterflies.
"There it is," I said with relief if not jubilation.
In my outdoor travels over several decades, I've lost many, many things including car keys, GPS units, Swiss Army Knives, fishing rods/reels, lens hoods ... well, you name it, I've lost it.
Like the cell phone, however, I've often back-tracked and found the lost item.
On one occasion, I left a pair of glasses on a rock beside a stream in the Eagle Cap Wilderness when walking from Minam Hill about 50-miles to Wallowa Lake. On the way home, I stopped at a gas station in Elgin and asked if the glasses had been turned in.
They had. I feel good about fellow travels and my luck when that happens.
Anyway as we reached Interstate 82 at a few minutes after 2 p.m., I asked Darlene how she wanted to return home: go back the way we came, go west through Mission for a late lunch or go east to La Grande and a late lunch.
She chose La Grande so that we could then make a tour of the Ladd Marsh Refuge, to see if it had and water birds.
We ate at a Subway and found no water birds and very little Marsh at the refuge.
I did shoot tree swallows, quail in trees, a red-winged blackbird on a post and the osprey on a nest at Hot Lake that I shot in May.

All that, especially retrieving of my lost phone, made for a darn good outing.

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21, 2013

Lick Creek Flowers and North Fork Umatilla River Wilderness Area (6-21-13).

I worked up 60 or so photos from yesterday's stroll along Lick Creek Trail, in the North Fork Umatilla River Wilderness area with Nora the Schnauzer.
"Worked up" means that I looked at them in Photoshop and cropped, added light, dark or contrast to them as I perceived their need.
That strategy allows me to view the photos with some attention to detail. Most of them may not need the level of Photoshop work that I know how to apply. But I select some to  work-up and set them aside as worthy of posting on the or the web sites.
And, usually, I print several of those selected, and some of those I have taken to Darrah's in Walla Walla to be sold, although none have done so in the two months of that gold-digging effort.
This time, as I worked up the photos, the sense of been-there-done-that grew stronger and stronger.

A quick look back at the posts on the tripper site revealed that I posted flowers and scenery from the exact same trail one year and seven days ago.
And I felt some pride in the sharp, colorful and interestingly composed images. Then I felt some anxiety that the 2013 images may not measure up to that 2012 batch?
Well, at least they are more recent, and the day spent on that trail with Nora felt good. We had strong, chilly winds, especially when we stood on rocky cliffs with the wind in our faces and when we crossed that high, rock-ribbed ridge.
Dark clouds rushed across the sky with a an occasional break that allowed a few seconds of sunshine.
I could not have derived better weather for a walk with the dog.
I watched the open slopes with some care in case deer, elk or black bears meandered from the thickly timbered draws to browse in the open.
Nary a one did that.
The flowers, however, burst from the rocky ground of the slopes and along the wet wooded paths of the draws with colorful blossoms: Clarkia, wild onion, Oregon sunshine, sulphur lupine, red columbine, golden pea, big-headed clover, wild hyacinth, heartleaf arnica, arrowleaf balsamroot, stonecrop, oarleaf buckwheat, upland larkspur, ninebark, wild rose, rock penstemon and numerous blooms that I couldn't find in my "Wayside Flowers of the Pacific Northwest" by Dr. Dee Stickler although I perused it carefully, again, when I returned home.

Anyway, Nora and I had another pleasant day. Perhaps we both especially enjoyed it because of Nora's recent two-week battle with stomach worms caused by stuffing herself with Mormon Crickets during a long day's trek in the Juniper Dunes Wilderness.
Today is another cool, cloudy day that would be perfect for stalking lizards at the McNary National Wildlife Refuge's Wallula Unit, at Wallula Junction.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 19, 2013

Walking with Nora at Mill Creek/Bennington Lake, Again

So, this is a chilly and very wet Wednesday in Walla Walla. Darlene rattles pots and pans in the kitchen while she bakes a cake for the Animal Clinic that took care of Nora during her recent illness. Nora, drooling for some tidbit of food to hit the floor, has been clinging to Darlene. Nora, BTW, appears to have completely recovered from a two-week illness caused from gorging herself on Mormon crickets gobbled on our seven-hour hike into the Juniper Dunes on May 22.
So, with the rain and the cake's distraction of Darlene and Nora, I'm continuing to tap out some of the excursions we took in May.

I will focus this entry on a May 21st walk with Nora around Bennington Lake. As usual I took a bunch of photos and I will add a few here. Many of the others may be seen at
Clouds protected us from the sun's heat. I prefer a cloudy day for photos. Those bright sunny days create stark contrasts that I find difficult to deal with when snapping the usual opportune images that occur when walking with Nora.

Anyway, in addition to images of fellow strollers, I ended up recording images of wild rose blossoms, red hounds tongue buds, dried teasel pods, trees silhouetted against the clouds, rotted logs with unusual formations, a great blue heron that launched from the lake, a red-winged blackbird on a twig, one fly close-up and several deer in the grass or in the teasel fields.
The walk, which followed Mill Creek and circled the lake, took nearly four hours and it was worth every minute.