Asotin Bird Sanctuary

No running today. Instead, I got in a four mile hike with a son-in-law, traipsing through the Asotin Bird Sanctuary. Technically named the inelegant Asotin Slough, the locals call it the Bird Sanctuary and it's part of the runs we do with the junior high kids a couple of times a year.

 Looking south to Riverpointe, one of the higher end communities in town. I don't live there. My abode is more modest, and leans a bit to one side.

Looking south to Riverpointe, one of the higher end communities in town. I don't live there. My abode is more modest, and leans a bit to one side.

From Chief Looking Glass Park, you can follow Corps of Engineer land east along the river to get to there. (If you are, please remember that you're traversing people's backyards.) When you get to the osprey nest (tall pole, big nest, can't miss it,) drop down to the river to pick up some single track.

 Not being in a hurry, we chatted along the way. None of my son-in-laws are runners, though all three are outdoorsmen. The pace was conducive to a relaxing vent. I had a few (they were going to frame today's post, but life interfered, in the pleasant way.) Will, the son-in-law that was with me today, used to work for me long before me married my middle daughter, and he's used to some of my peculiarities, like adding running commentary to audiobooks.

 Looking up the Snake River from the SE corner of Asotin. Hells Canyon lay that direction, the deepest step canyon in North America.

Looking up the Snake River from the SE corner of Asotin. Hells Canyon lay that direction, the deepest step canyon in North America.

We spotted - Will spotted - a pair of deer, does, as we left the boat launch area and entered a lightly wooded section. A couple had already bounded past with their graceful and bouncy gait. These watched us and then slowly sauntered away, mostly unconcerned. This trail is the same one that I brought the kids on a couple of weeks ago. At the start of the season, only four could run that far and get back at the end of practice. At the end of the season, it was more than a dozen. 

We broke out from under cover and stuck to the faded trails. Before the Corps had put in a bypass for the river to ensure that the flow, well, flowed correctly and that stagnate water was minimized, this used to be a favorite running route. With the channel, it's more challenging. summers aren't bad as the channel they built is dry, but winters see bank to bank water that necessitates fording in icy currents. I usually find other runs.

The single track follows along the river bank for another half-mile before it peters out in a mix of deer trails near a couple of white sandy beaches. The Corps tried planting (I'm assuming) native trees. The soils here lack nutrients and the annual rainfall matches that of a desert. The trees, shall we say, failed to thrive. Now, they look like random twigs stuck in the ground, marked by square red flags on wire sticks to mark their passing.

We looped over the far end of the new channel, working our way down the river rubble embankments and crossing to the side of the sanctuary that borders the highway. Once upon a time, the cross country team would head out to Snake River Road. A couple of close calls from speeding drivers who approach the road as though it were Le Mans, and that adventure got cut short. It's a shame we can't trust the drivers as the views up the river are spectacular.

Will and I came back along the trail I used the one -only!- time I swam the Snake River. Along with a few bruises from hitting unseen boulders, I got a first-hand appreciation of the power of the river that I used in my book, Trail of Second Chances. (an aside - I am offering free Kindle copies of Trail in return for honest reviews.)  The path wound its way past the basalt formations, and ducked through a low smattering of trees. 

In the shade of the trees, we came across a box bolted into the basalt rock. Narrow in depth, but wide, it took me a second to recognize it. Will, trained as a biologist, was much quicker. "For bats," he said. It made sense and was preferably to having the bats establish residence in the attics of local homes.

I come across bats on an infrequent basis, and almost always as a surprise. The town that I've found them in most, locally, would be Potlatch, Idaho, about 25 minutes north of Moscow. In one year, I found bats in four separate homes. They typically don't bother the inspectors, but homeowners are not fans of these particular types of freeloaders. Still, I find them preferable to termites, and in their own way, kind of cute. Definitely interesting.  . .

The trail came back into open ground as we head back to my house. We had some warning, seeing the head of a doe rising, dropping in front of us. I slowed up to see if maybe I could get a clear picture (I was using the great-grandson of the Indestructible Camera.) Luck was with me, plus I think the deer, understanding Will and I were unarmed, posed.

 

In all, a pleasant walk. I think the ratio ran to three deer per mile, with assorted birdlife (jay, magpies, sparrows) sprinkled in for seasoning. No snakes, which was fine with me, and a sun that came out and made me sweat the last mile.