I know how he felt. When you get a nice day in January in the Pacific Northwest, it’s not a time to be sitting on the couch. It’s come on already, let’s go!
Nestled in the Columbia River, Sauvie Island lies about 10 miles (16 km) NW of Portland. This was our target for the afternoon, as we didn’t want to let the day go to the dogs.
It’s a big island. At 26,000 acres (10,500 hectares) it’s the largest island in the Columbia, and one of the largest for any river in the United States. While much of the island is used for farming, there is still plenty of shoreline to explore, and half the island is set aside as a wildlife refuge. The plan was to hike along a section of lake within the refuge.
Wandering into a little store at the entrance to the island, I headed up to the counter to pick up a permit and get any recommendations. The recommendation I got was unexpected; unless you want to join the ducks in ducking buckshot, you’re better off going elsewhere. Apparently, at certain times of the year, the refuge isn’t much of a refuge – the hunters get a shot. So it was off to the river.
I admit, I’m not a dog person. It’s not that I don’t like dogs (ok, there are a few breeds I’m not a fan of), I’ve just never been motivated to take on a creature that needs you to follow him around in whatever weather nature throws at you, baggy in hand, waiting for that special moment when you get to pick up warm soft poop. Or spending your afternoon apologizing for yet another awkwardly placed sniff from ye olde pooch nose.
But do I have to admit, there are times when they look like fun.
There were other creatures about as well.
One of the smarter ducks took refuge out in the river. But even there, there were hints of other dangers.
A nesting platform for some bird of prey, perhaps for eagles, perhaps osprey, perhaps something else has a strategic vantage point overlooking the river.
And alongside the beach, life of a different sort looked on.
But that was not the most unusual form of life we encountered while wandering around the island. While I’ve seen a Mosshead Warbonnet while scuba diving, this was the first time I’ve encountered the human variant.
Moss has many guises in the Northwest. Not only can it act as a bonnet for the elusive juvenile Green Sasquatch, the ground-dwelling Log Creeper wears it as a shawl, festooned with feathery ferns.
Stepping inland from the river, we found a small lake, mirroring the outstretched fingers of an Ent Faced Pond Sucker.
Much older entities looked on as well. Still alive and capable of throwing a hissy fit, Mount Hood to the east and Mount St. Helens to the northeast gave us their wintery, icy stare.
Alas, in January nice days are short-lived. Nightfall approached from the east and clouds approached from the west. But as both we and the day departed, the day gave us one final hurrah.