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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An Unexpected Tracking Danger

On Saturday I decided to take advantage of the dry and somewhat sunny afternoon to wonder down by Coe Clemmons Creek, which runs through Taylor Park. It's a small park that runs east to west between my neighborhood and the post office in downtown Duvall. The creek meanders along the bottom of the steep-sided gully that separates the playground from the houses that back up to the creek on the south. From the head of the park where the creek passes under 3rd Ave to highway 203 at the far western edge it's about 6 city blocks in distance and about half a city block wide. The playground and picnic area only take up about 2 city blocks, and the upper block and the lower 3 blocks are just wild. A local school group did do some cleanup and trail work along the creek a couple of years ago, and I often see teens and sometimes families walking along the creek. There are also deer trails in several areas along the street - they seem to take the steepest routes. I've been seeing a big doe with what I believe to be her 2 year old daughter and her 2 yearlings, one of which is starting to sprout some buttons on his head. The youngsters both have some interesting "cowlicks" on their sides, so it's pretty easy to recognize them. They have been a block away from my apartment, and I've seen them in various places along my walk to and from work. I've seen tracks along the street on days that I missed the deer. I started to wonder if they spent time in the lower section of the park...I hadn't really ever taken the path that goes down the hillside past the parking lot. On Saturday, I decided to take a look. I found lots of deer tracks! The path switchbacks along, and the deer have made shortcuts from the upper path to the second and third paths. If I'd had plaster in my pocket I'd have made some casts of the clear tracks I found. It was really nice to just wonder along, not taking measurements, and not having a camera along to take photos. I was just tracking for fun...and almost got wiped out in the process. Now, I'm 52 years old...I've let my hair go grey, and I've put on a few more pounds than I'd like to admit to recently. But I do walk a mile and a half to work and back most days, and I often pack groceries up the hill in my backpack rather than get the car out of the garage. But I'm no athlete...never have been, don't want to be. So, imagine me in mid path, bent over admiring a nice deer track in a muddy's deep and the cleaves are spread and the dew claws are there...and I'm thinking that the animal must have come off the hillside pretty fast. And I hear a funny noise - one that makes me think I should pay attention. So I look up and see a kid on a bike, pedaling as fast as he can, and headed right at me...he looks as scared as I feel! I want you to know that I lept - yes, lept - off the trail and avoided a collision by inches...I felt the air on my arm as he sped past. I saw admiration on his face as he went by. Now, I'll confess that it was not a graceful gazelle-like leap, but I'd have bet (and the kid would have, too) that I was not capable of any sort of leap. I guess it's just another survival skill I've learned at Wilderness Awareness School. That, and my weekly visit to my chiropractor saved me from an ugly tracking accident.

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My Favorite Fiction Authors and Books

  • Suzanne Arruda- the Jade del Cameron mysteries: "The Mark of the Lion" "Stalking Ivory", "The Serpent's Daughter", "The Leopard's Prey" and "The Golden Cheetah"
  • Ken Goddard - "Balefire" and others
  • Stephen White - the Dr. Alan Gregory books are all great. "Kill Me" is my favorite.
  • Harlan Coben - anything he writes is great
  • Elizabeth Peters - Amelia Peabody mysteries

My Favorite Nonfiction Authors and Books

  • "Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown- 2nd edition coming soon!
  • Gavin De Becker - "The Gift of Fear"
  • "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales- the best survival book I've ever read! Not a how-to, its more of a who does,and why.
  • Candice Millard - "The River of Doubt -Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey"
  • Anything that starts with "Peterson's Field Guide To..."
  • Tom Brown, Jr. - "The Tracker" and others
  • Mark Elbroch - "Mammal Tracks and Sign" and "Animal Skulls"