A sunny late winter day along the Little Spokane River.
I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from a non-fiction piece.
Under murky skies, on a labyrinth of trails laced between boulders, bogs and the West Branch of the Little Spokane River, one can explore the DNR land southeast of Horseshoe Lake. In Autumn, tamaracks light the way, flaunting their acid-yellow diversity against a chalkboard of evergreens. Cross paths with white-tailed deer or dusky grouse, thumping their escape through the misty forest. Discover a beaver pond, complete with lodge, built by the flat-tailed woodland engineers.
A Northeast Washington ridge top shot on the four corners of the calendar.
The following are pictures taken from the same vantage point (a ridge about 700 feet above the Little Spokane River) on or around the first day of each season during the last year.
Notice the emergence of the structure on the right.
Just north of Spokane and west of highway 395 lies the Little Spokane River Natural Area. This protected half-pipe of pine forest and cattail marsh is home to moose and deer, osprey and eagle, cougar and bear. Every oxbow is a potential haven for beavers and muskrats. In the heart of the valley is a heron rookery and the Painted Rocks, ancient pictographs left by early Native Americans.
I was able to hike the river trail without encountering snow or mud, an anomaly during winter in Northeast Washington. Whether you believe in global climate change or not, climate weirdness is undeniable. Last year at this time, this same stretch of terrain was under two feet of hard ice, the base remnant of 100 inches of snowfall between Thanksgiving and Fat Tuesday. Today, the trail was clear and lonely. I encountered more raptors than people. Not the worst way to spend a morning.
Here are some more frames from the trail.