Oct 28, 2013

Fall Color Along the Deschutes

A new pair of trail shoes ....

two weeks of glorious Indian Summer weather ...

a river ...

a boon companion ...

and it's time for our annual fall color walks along the Deschutes.

We feel so fortunate to have this magnificent river flowing right through our town.  More often than not, our Thursday Date Day Hikes take place on or near the river.  Although the arid West is not known for fall color the way New England is, and for good reason, we appreciate our aspens and larches all the more for their glorious light.   They pop out against the backdrop of dark evergreens and lava rock.

The river is quite low for this time of year, and the water, flowing more slowly, shows the deep green blue more commonly seen in the glacial meltwater lakes higher up in the mountains.

The past couple of weeks we have walked along the upper sections of the river trail, above Benham Falls, where the old railroad bed it follows are clearly evident.

The original railroad bed was converted to a haul road for huge log trucks in the 1950's and is now a wide, beautifully graded trail along long sections.  It reminds me of the carriage roads outside Bar Harbor, Maine.

The rotting pilings of the old haul road bridge sit next to the new one.

Just upstream from the bridge is the old log jam, purposely created to slow the river and prevent loose logs from running into the bridge pilings.

Most of this area was clear cut in the early 1900's and the trees you see are new growth since then.   There are still mature giant Ponderosa pines in the picnic area just beyond the bridge.

Just beyond the bridge, the trail bears south, after crossing the current railroad line,

and begins its run alongside the vast lava fields created by Lava Butte, visible in the distance here:

While playing with my telephoto....

I saw a flash of movement among out of the corner of my eye.   I glanced over, expecting to see a ground squirrel, but was surprised to see this little guy peering at me from a nice secure rock pile:

He stepped out to get a better view of me...

then posed for a profile shot...

Although he was as cute as could be
I suspected he was a rather fierce creature up close and personal.   Thinking he wasn't quite the right color for a pine marten or weasel, I did a bit of research once I got home.   Although rare in our area, I believe this little fellow was an ermine, or stoat.   A special wildlife bonus for the hike.

Then we headed back to our car, parked just above Benham Falls.   Here's the final view downstream

Oct 20, 2013

Our Rupert

Our Rupert died this week.

He was the sweetest boy ever.   I suppose he looked like every other black cat:   black.   But he had the cutest long tufts on the tips of his ears, a mellow disposition, and a loving nature that led him to take small newcomers under his wing and make them lifelong sleeping companions.

Despite a rather timid nature, he bravely defended us from various threats, including mice, frogs, birds and the Evil White Cat Across the Street.

When I started looking for photographs of the manly guy, I found only a few solo shots.

He rarely napped...

or sat guard duty


He loved his grub

and was famous for nibbling any bare toes he found standing in the kitchen while food was being prepared.   We had to develop a special Rupert Dance to avoid his not-always gentle nips.   After all, he was just trying to do everyone a favor by speeding things along.

He loved being outside in all weather

and he helped out in the garden whenever possible

He loved his special Rupert basket by the fire in winter,

but his favorite place was always cuddled up with as many friends as possible.

We buried him next to the woodpile, where he spent many hours on various projects known only to himself.   We suspect he was monitoring the mouse population there.

In final tribute to our sweet boy, I give you the silly boy Rupert movie: