This episode of Thinking on My Feet: Doc Bullis’s Virtual Radio Trail Report is brought to you by The Drought. Already famous for its results in California and the Southwest, The Drought has recently expanded operations to the Pacific Northwest, where it has successfully reduced the mountain snowpack by 78%.
Though I normally lump The Drought in with bad actors like Halliburton* and Monsanto*, today I thank The Drought both for its sponsorship of this episode and for its opening up a new-to-me trail. I’ve walked past it dozens of times in the past, but today I was able to see it for the first time, because the foliage normally concealing the entrance to this trail is withering.
*Not actual persons.
This trail is near the far end of my usual route. Since its beginning consists of about 50 feet of small granite stones, I named it the Rocky Start Trail. It passes through a grove of alders down to a small stream bed (currently dry), proceeds up the opposite bank through a mixed stretch of cedars and firs, and leads to a branch off the North-South Trail that I’d previously thought was a dead end. What this means, friends, is a loop trail! Now I can hike a two-hour-and-fifteen minute route shaped like a lollipop, or a tennis racquet, or a half note—no longer a one-way, out-and-back, linear, or snake-shaped route.
Speaking of snakes, let’s get to today’s Trail Report. I did indeed see a snake: garter, two feet long, frozen still, head held up half a foot off the ground, smack in the middle of the Middle Loop Trail. After recovering from my zero-at-the-bone moment,* I backed away, not wanting to scare the snake worse than the snake had scared me. It didn’t move, so I walked closer, very slowly, looking for a way around it to the side of the trail. The snake still did not move at all, apparently focused on something in the underbrush on the left side of the trail. I stepped slowly around it, then walked slowly down the trail beyond it, turning several times to look. It never moved. I can’t wait to check tomorrow to see if it’s still there!
*Not an actual Emily Dickinson sighting. But here is one of my favorite Emily poems:
And opens further on.
He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn,
But when a boy and barefoot,
I more than once at noon
Have passed, I thought, a whip lash,
Unbraiding in the sun,
When stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled and was gone.
Several of nature’s people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.
–Emily Dickinson, #1096
Berry Report: Snowberries by the birdseed trunk are plumping. Rowan berries are drooping. Salal berries and huckleberries shriveled to nonexistent. Blackberries plentiful—ripening and sweetening nicely. Let’s hope the rain forecasted for two days from now will actually arrive (don’t tell today’s sponsor I said that) to plump the juice cells so that the berries will ripen before they shrivel in the heat.
Noises Heard: The quiet ticking sounds of GREEN HEMLOCK AND FIR NEEDLES FALLING TO THE GROUND. It’s dry out here, people. Scary dry.
Please stay tuned for Episode 4, in which I’ll go looking for that snake again!