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The Hawk's Nest

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Linda crossing Ross Creek. Photo by Ernie Hawks Linda crossing Ross Creek. Photo by Ernie Hawks

A bountiful summer


In the wheat country where I grew up harvest should be about over and the stubble almost plowed down. In the gardens around here the raspberries are nearly done, blueberries are still going strong and we are waiting for tomatoes. In a few weeks the apples and pairs will be ready. In short, it is the time for us to enjoy the bounty of the summer’s growing as the plants around us get ready to shed their leaves and fruit. 

I can’t help but look back on my bounty for the summer, wonderful memories—some I’ll talk about here, too. 

We are planning an extended vacation in Hawaii this winter to witness and celebrate the birth of our first grandkid, pictures in February. Since that trip is on the horizon, we decided to do our recreating in the vacation land of North Idaho this summer. 

There was time spent at outdoor concerts, music festivals and summer theater, but most of it was spent hiking in our regional mountain ranges. I hope we aren’t done yet but so far we have amassed many miles, all in day hikes either from home or while car camping. 

Day hikes for us are usually in the six to eight mile range; however, there was that Bernard Peak hike at about 16—for that one we were prepared. There was another one past Beaver Lake in search of Lambertson Lake however, that turned out to be about 14. Then there was one in June where we did about ten miles on Ross Creek. 

The unexpected adventure of the Ross Creek day was water, everywhere, flowing on most of the trails, so we wore our sandals most of the trek. We knew there would be crossings but didn’t expect the trails themselves to be creek beds so our boots rode on our backs. 

The day we looked for Lamberton Lake we wandered around on tracks we had never been on before. It reminded me of the old frontiersman who said he had never been lost but he was a might confused once—for about three months. We were only out about three hours longer than intended. 

I had given it some thought; looked at a topographic map casually, then laid it aside. We ran into a friend near the trailhead who had never walked it—another source of good information. How much more prepared could we be? Besides, we were only a few miles from home, so nothing could happen. Moreover, all we did was miss one right turn. 

We took track after track with thoughts like “I bet this just loops around” or “this will probably go a ways and we can cut back to where we started.” All the time walking past small wetlands, through diverse forests and meadows, viewing a variety of birds and water fowl. We watched a fawn get a drink and waited for a bull moose to move away so we felt safe to proceed.  

After we had been out about as long as we intended, and hadn’t seen the lake, we decided the right decision was to take the route we knew—the way we had come. So backtrack we did. When we reached the car we were out of water and food, more tired than expected, but full of great memories. A look at the map and I knew exactly what we had done, Now we still look forward to doing it right, or at least differently. 

Bernard Peak was a little different than we had planned. We decided early in the spring that it would be our big hike. The peak is eight miles from the parking lot at Farragut State Park and the trail gains about three thousand feet. Even though there is a road to the top we decided to hike the round trip, 16 miles. 

We knew the lower end, a good trail out of the park through a well-maintained forest. As soon as we crossed the park boundary we were on the lower end of the High Line trail, still familiar territory. A canyon created by rock faces on each side narrows as the trail climbs beside a small brook. Finally the stream flows from beneath a rock part way up the end of the gorge. To continue we climbed around boulders and skirted damp cliffs to a small plateau at the top. 

Once there it is easy walking through mature Douglas firs. There is a small pond where we expected to break and, hopefully, see some wildlife. What we saw and heard were hungry mosquitoes apparently glad to see us from the way they swarmed us. We continued, as fast as we could, until we came to an opening facing west. There were vistas to the south and west across the Rathdrum Prairie toward Mt. Spokane and no bugs gleefully eager to taste our presence.

A short break and we crossed to the north with panoramic views of Pend Oreille Lake. It was about four miles at that point and we stayed on that north slope to the bottom of Bernard. 

Because of that north slope it was dark, a magnificent trek through cedars and across small streams. The soil smelled of rich decomposing vegetation, damp due to the lack of direct sunlight. When the trail started to climb, twice the switchbacks turned with a view straight west, the length of Highway 54 and beyond to Twin Lakes. From the same vantage we could see the length of the lake and to the Cabinets in the distant north. The second one was the last view of the lake as we followed our path into the valley on the west side of the peak and zigzagged to the top. 

Eight miles, about three thousand feet and a race away from vicious mosquitoes, but we were not ready for what we saw at the top. 

As I said there is a road and apparently several people have used it, and on that road they have carried garbage. There were piles, not some tossed and scattered, but piles of beer cans and assorted liquor bottles. There was old furniture, partly burned, left without any regard for the beauty of the place. It was a filthy display of total disrespect for the earth, a result of disgusting human debauchery no other animal would create. 

The sight of beer cans does not offend me, in my refrigerator. Nor does the sight of liquor bottles, in my cupboard. But it is easy to haul that crap away once the party is over, and I don’t understand not doing that. Juxtaposed to the wretched refuse yearning to be hauled was a sublime view to the south over the Coeur d’Alenes and on to a misty blue horizon. 

We ate lunch looking over those mountains and valleys before making our way back to the car. 

In spite of some sore muscles and a few skeeter bites, it was a good day.

Except for this short rant, my memories of the summer are very fond. So, I will choose to focus on the bounty of fun stuff we did and leave the garbage where we found it.  

That is, unless I can put together a crew with trucks and garbage bags, for a drive up to the top of Bernard Peak, and clean it up.


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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

Tagged as:

hiking, littering, summer, Bernard Peak, Beaver Lake, Ross Creek, Lambertson Lake

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