July 4, 1999

Dog is Scared

We down to Babe's place on the edge of the Oregon Coastal Range for the holiday. Went for several walks up into the woods.

The dog and I went up behind the big barn on the old railroad grade in the afternoon. Saw the big buck up there, mincing his way through the trees away from us. Not many bothers up that old and abandoned road. He was growing his stumps and they looked big and were just giving a hint of branching. He could be a six point (western count) this year.

On the night of the 4th, I took Babe's dog, Cisco, out for a good night hike up the main logging road. It was very dark. I could barely make out the light of the gravel surface against the dark of the trees as we went up the hill. The dog is always ready to go for an adventure (to him anyway). Babe is 82 and doesn't get him too far away from the barns and house.

Normally, he runs quite free, even when it is dark and comes back and checks up on me from time to time. Tonight, he was apprehensive. He didn't seem to want to leave my side and was continually bumping into me. The forest was silent. No wind, no noise, no vehicles in the distance. Once, he took off up the hill and after a few minutes, I hear the gravel a crunching and Cisco literally almost knocks me off my feet getting close to me. He hadn't barked or growled or anything. He's a black and white dog, with a good bit of the white up front, so I was surprised that I hadn't seen him coming. I figured it was him from the noise. Something was out there that he didn't like. He never left my side after that. Most unusual, in fact the only time it has ever happened.

I found one of the "Bluies" up in the grassy area. Not really looking for them. It was a small one and I laid it back into the grass. Sort of surprised they were out. I saw several of their lights. Guess the ground hadn't dried out enough.

We walked up to the "S" turns and then turned around and came back. I didn't hear any noises, even though I stopped and listened many times.

The next day, the dog and I went up high and hiked through Starker's land on a motorcycle trail.

Starker's give generally free use of their forest lands to the public. In return, they get trash from the forest hogs. Their forests are of the most modern type, thinned and well managed to get the biggest, straightest and clearest (lack of branch swirl/knotted) logs. As a result, their lands are like great Coastal Range parks and with the roads crossing through them at every angle since logging first came her in the late 1900's, they are accessible and friendly places; except when the forest hogs are in there.

They have motorcycle and off-road bicycle trails running through their land. When the temperature is too high and or the fire danger too great from other reasons, those trails are closed to motorcycles and then make great hiking places. That is with the exception of where the water erodes them too much. At those places, the motorcycle and off-road bicycle trails are carved deep and narrow and hard to walk. I don't wonder about how the wheeled vehicles get through those places, except they are often wide from moving the track from side to side or down slope.

Cisco, Babe's old dog and I went into one of those trails after walking up a familiar road, turning west and then walking a ridge line road. We saw a fine view of Corvallis and Albany in the distance. All that could be seen of the those towns were patterns from the University in Corvallis and the steam from the big paper mill in Albany. Of course, you could see the blue roofs of Venell's Seed Farm on the green of the flat valley floor and the runways of the airport built in WWII and other places that you get to know over the years, like "mangle" hill known for its wonderful car wrecks and the form of Philomath, a bastion of western Oregon culture.

The trail was dry, the ground rock hard and the day was hot, even under the shadows. We went up a narrow canyon or wide ravine, as you wish. Some birds were calling from each side. Even the quail were holding tight. It was just a little too warm for everything. There were no fresh deer or elk tracks discernible to my eye. I wondered where the animals were getting their water. The nearest creek that I knew of was over the next ridge. The foliage was thick and leafy. It brushed against us in many places. The trees changed as we walked through different ages of old logging and it was nice to see. The high sun illuminated many things. The dog held close for some reason. Probably didn't want to get lost would be my guess.

I didn't know where we were going for sure, but finally, up the ravine, I came to a bow and a turn back. I turned east and followed the trail down the hill. We came out on a logging road only about a mile from the truck. The dog became intent on sniffing and licking some fairly fresh animal scat - probably coyote. I discouraged that. When we got back to the truck, the damn dog insisted on going over to an old mud puddle and rolling in it and drinking from it. I had my water bottle.

Anyway, after a nice hike I had to sniff a wet and hot dog on the seat next to me all the way down the hill. He was on his old blanket, but was leaking through to the seat. It was definitely window open and air conditioner on blast time. The dog didn't care. He was happy and put his head out the window and his tongue out of his mouth. He was on the way home to a good nap with happy dog dreams and he knew it.


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