Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Part II: Hiking at Jackson-Washington State Forest

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Sarah and I decided a hike was in order on Saturday afternoon. We didn’t want to do anything too long, and from experience we knew that the trails there are pretty challenging. Hiking there, it feels like you’re covering more ground because there are constant ups and downs, many of them fairly steep.  We looked at a map and put together a short loop. We had chosen a campsite right by a trailhead, so we were able to hike directly from our site.

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Starting the hike.

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Enjoying ourselves already

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A fuzzy vine on a tree

Almost immediately, the trail began climbing, and did so for quite a while. Once we reached the top of that hill, we saw a sign saying the trail is closed for logging. Couldn’t they have put the sign at the bottom of the hill?

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Naturally, the part of the trail we planned to hike was closed

However, it appeared based on the sign that they had just closed the trail days before, and it said you could go through if nobody was working. We continued on. All they had done so far was mark a few trees.

It’s really sad how much logging has increased in the state forests. Our current governor has increased logging 400% since taking office. Sad. No, I didn’t vote for him.

The trail followed a ridge briefly but then resumed the constant ups and downs. You’d literally reach the top of a hill and immediately go down the other side, only to climb another hill after that. We crested one hill to see our dog waiting for us.

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Rob, waiting at the top of a hill

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Steep trail

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Rob and I exchange greetings

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More steep trail

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Sarah

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Hiking down

We came around a bend and suddenly Rob ran off the trail and into some brush. We heard some scuffling and wondered what was going on. I tried to get him back, worried that he’d run down the very steep side of the ravine. A couple moments later, out came Rob, with … something … in his mouth. Something big and furry.

It didn’t take long before I realized it was a possum. Rob seemed so proud of himself for finding it and I think wanted to show us. Somehow, we got him to set it down somewhere other than on our feet.

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Rob’s mostly-dead possum

It wasn’t moving. Well, at least not much. We could see it was still breathing. At this point I decided the humane thing to do would be to end its suffering. Sarah put Rob’s leash on and took him down the trail. I found a suitably long and thick stick and finished it off.

About an hour later, Sarah said to me “Hey, don’t possums play dead?” At this point, I realized what I had done. I killed a possum that in all likelihood would have recovered. I felt a little dumb, and kind of bad for doing that, but it really did seem like the humane course of action at the time. Apparently I’m not the first person to do this though as Wikipedia’s Opossum entry says, “Many injured opossums have been killed by well-meaning people who find a catatonic animal and assume the worst.”

We were quite surprised at Rob’s actions. He’s normally a very laid-back, lazy dog. We see rabbits all the time on our walks at home and never seems to pay much attention. But he sure went after that possum aggressively. We couldn’t find any bite or scratch marks on Rob … I guess that possum never had a chance.

After that encounter, we were a little shaken up but still enjoyed the rest of our hike. Unfortunately the hike we chose to do didn’t have any overlooks, even though it went to one of the highest points in the area. Next time we’ll make a point of hitting an overlook. This time, we were too tired, and it was too hot, to add in the extra miles to get to an overlook. Still, it was a beautiful hike and you could see some hills in the distance between trees. Not really something you could catch with a camera. You can sort of tell in the photo below.

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Going downhill back toward the trailhead

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Almost back

We really enjoyed our hike. This state forest is very special to us, as it’s where we got engaged. It was great to hike there again and see some different trails. And the possum encounter is not something we’ll be forgetting any time soon.

4 Responses to “Part II: Hiking at Jackson-Washington State Forest”

  1. John Says:

    Hiking is a good alternative to biking. It’s scary how often you and I end up on the same page, doing similar things a half a country apart.

    Except for the poor little defenseless animals that is. 8>)

  2. Jett Says:

    I guess it’s not “playing possum” when you are a possum! Interesting how phrases can become detached from their origins.

    We got to do a little hiking in Fontana Village a few weeks ago. I still want to get my daughter’s to do an overnight trip before they start leaving for college. There’s something noble about traveling under your own power.

  3. Jessica Says:

    I love the shot with the sun through the trees. Now I’m inspired to put on my running shoes and get going to the park.

  4. Dan Says:

    Rob is lucky. One of our greyhounds tangled with a possum in the back yard and came back with some pretty nasty bites. I guess they have some dangerous teeth that they can use when faking sleep doesn’t work.

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