Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The magic jacket

J and I get to the farm some time around 9.  There is some wind, but the temperature is comfortable.  Rain will come at some point today, that is certain.  J joins me on a trip to climb the upriver end of the DNR hill.  I've explored the bottom up there, but wanted someone along for the steeper sections.  At least I have figured out the easiest path through and around the blackberries that guard the bottom of the hill.  If all works out, we will cross over the hill and descend to the squatter's cabin.

We walk up and through the north fields to the river, which we can follow a hundred yards or so over to the top end of the slough.  During high water, the river runs into the slough.  Today it is a shallow creek.  But, it is choked with logjams and is only the preferable route because it avoids the blackberry tangles.  We make the final crossing where a creek enters from the hillside.  There is a fine beaver dam right there and from my past trips I know that it is just one of many.

Mother and Sons

The bottom of the hill is not too steep and we pick up a good trail that follows the state property line.  I suppose that I don't take the shallow slope as the warning it should be.  We soon find ourselves in some of the steepest terrain that I've seen on this hill, just as the first rain comes, bringing with it some small ice pellets.  It is a very strenuous section, made especially pleasant by the 25 pound pack on my back.  But, face down sucking breath like that, J finds a beautiful bird nest on the ground.  I don't have a box to save it in, so after we look at it some, appreciating the delicacy, I set it under a downed log so that it will last as long as possible...for whom, I don't know.  I pull my rain jacket out of my pack and the rains soon stops.

J thinks that it is made of cedar roots

Once past that grunt, the hill gradually relents and the sky shows more and more through the trees.  A last push through new alders, a sign of cutting, brings us to a logging road that has a fine view.

From here, we follow the road around and up to the top of the hill, which is just a bit over 1000 ft.  The weather has closed the view in some, so we drop down into the forest, stopping to listen to a chorus of frogs in a small pond.  When they spot us, they stop as quickly as if they had taken their cue from a conductor.

The descent goes well.  While often, the descent is more difficult than the climb, this time it seems almost casual...which I know is not true from past trips.  It is the brutal climb on the other end of the hill that has made it so.  I pick the route by feel and by sensing that things look right.  There is nothing tangible for me to key off of, and I often wonder how the human brain can pull off such complexity.  Eventually, I look down through the trees and see the boulder and roof of the squatter's cabin directly below us, and I wonder how often I would be able to do that.

squatter's cabin

We spend some time examining the cabin and then take our last hour and walk the lower farm, checking out beaver drags and lower beach.  One last rain shower brings my magic jacket out of the pack.  The rain shower stops. 

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