May 18, 2012
Pretty patches of lupin line the route.
c Kim Hull
I did my "tick dance" on the Cougar Canyon trail today! My friend, her daughter and I set out along the old jeep road outside the elk fence which runs along the Naches River. We parked at the pull-out on Hwy 12 just beyond its intersection with Hwy 410. After a short while we entered the first gate in the elk fence which runs high above the Naches River. We meandered for a bit amazed with the countless skulls, bones and spines of elk, strewn about the sagebrush in a seeming graveyard of these wild beasts. This was very impressive! After imagining the fantastic perils of the wild, we jumped onto the jeep track and followed its high path along the river. On our trek we saw two elk on the ridge, two bighorn sheep and two deer. When we came to the end of the jeep road (at the site of a shining metal A-frame structure), we avoided the single trail which heads downhill and ends in a tangle of trees and branches. Instead, we picked our way upward and onto a fairly established game trail. We followed its dry and often times slippery path around the ridge and over small rockslides, to a perch overlooking the horseshoe bend in the river along Hwy 410. As our time was running short, we didn't make it to our goal - Cougar Canyon and tall rock pillar which marks the base of the canyon. We settled on our perch for a quick lunch (and apparently to collect at least one tick). In retracing our steps along the narrow and dry game trail, I sensed the little bugger crawling under my shirt. When I convinced myself I was being attacked, I stopped, undid my pack and peaked over my shoulder and under my shirt. Aha! There he was, ready to bite! In a panic, I took off my shirt and proceeded with my "tick dance", shaking my shirt wildly in an attempt to shake my predator. When I got my wits about me, I realized I'd been dancing around the trail in what I only hoped looked like a bikini top to the drivers traveling across the way (and the construction workers at the rock quarry on the other side of the river). Whatever...
My friends and I retraced our steps, enjoyed the wildflower displays and the last remaining days of the green hills. This is a delightful walk... enjoy it while you can!
Who says an elk fence can't be picturesque?
c Kim Hull