Nov. 2, 2003

I am no woodsman, my dogs are big, dopey pups when it comes to the woods, although Junie is a good deal stealthier than Sophie, and we clomp up and down trails without giving a thought to who or what might hear us. So it comes as no surprise that we seldom see much in the way of wildlife, since they all can clear out long before we slow-foot it into shouting range.

We do sometimes come across animal signs, though. On Saturday's second hike, all along the creek were disturbed areas where soil and rock had been rooted through. There were mud wallows in a couple of places at the edge of pools, and in one of the wallows was a distinct cloven hoofprint. Now since basselopes don't really have a hoofprint like that, and goat-footed bears are pretty scarce around here, it wasn't too hard, even for a townie like me, to start catching on. What we had here were feral pigs, descendants of escaped domestic swine, running wild in the country.

That morning on our first hike I saw a critter that wasn't fast enough to elude us, and probably couldn't hear us anyway. It was very slowly moving among the fallen leaves in a quiet pool, a white worm about a foot long and about as big around as pencil lead, a parasite of some sort, I suppose, and not something I would want living in my gut. Junie, don't drink out of that pool.

Even on the morning hike, when it was cloudy, it was still warm, and it would have been hot on the afternoon hike if not for the coolness of the ravine we were hiking in. As we were coming back out at dusk the air became perceptably warmer as we ascended the hillside. On the drive back home after dark I was in shirtsleeves with both car windows halfway down. On November 1st.

Sunday I bounced from being at the wrong place at the right time to being at the right place at the wrong time. If I wasn't hiking down to Jack Creek only to have it turn sunny on me, I was tooling over to this wonderful twin-trunked maple I had come across earlier that I had to have blue skies and sunshine in order to shoot properly, only to get there just as it was clouding up and getting breezy. Well, the hiking was good anyway, if hot and sweaty. Endorphins for the soul, I say.

There was lots of color, though, in the areas we visited, which were Winfrey Valley and up along Bidville road, along Hurricane Creek road, and on to White Rock Mountain. There were also hillsides with muted colors, others where most of the foliage was already fallen, and some others where green still predominated. I'd say there's still some gold yet in them old hills. Now if only the weather would turn to fall to go along with the colors.