Creature Comforts

Yesterday we went for a walk on the Chassell Ski Trails, which I have never been to before. I am kicking myself for not visiting here before, because it is beautiful and secluded (way more so than the Tech trails), and you can access it from the cemetery behind Todd’s house. The trails are very hilly and curvy, I was puffed and sweaty within a matter of minutes, and my rear is so sore today, but I loved it and I can’t wait to ski it this winter.

About two feet into the start of our hike, T got brave and flipped over a log for some reason. He said he was looking for creepy bugs, probably because we recently talked about nasty under-log centipedes, and how they were so much worse than the leggy house centipedes we are lucky enough to share space with. So there was nothing under the first log, but then I flipped one and was delighted to see this:

At first I thought it was a tiny copper belly snake, because it was only three or four inches long, and I was about to pick it up, but then I noticed he had teeny, tiny legs. Which you can’t see in this picture, but believe me, they were there. I was so excited to see this little dude (a salamander or newt is what I believe it to be, but I’m obviously no amphibian expert) because my whole life growing up I wanted a pet so bad that I would find creatures out in the woods to become my pet. I had “pet” spiders, snakes, turtles, but always hoped to find a newt or salamander outdoors, and never did before yesterday! So I was happy to see him, and I wanted a better look, so I put him on top of his log for a few shots, before he scampered back into hiding and we left him alone.

And also flipped his log back over. He was so cute, I definitely would have taken him home as a pet when I was a kid, when I did not realize it was not the best thing to take wild animals from their homes. We saw one more creature of note on our hike, but we didn’t see it until the end of our hike, so I’m gonna keep you in suspense (or, just scroll down if you want to be a party pooper).

The walk was off to a great start, but I was on a mission to find a geocache hidden by my caching friends somewhere on the trail. I had little faith in my phone working out in the Chassell woods, because it barely works in Chassell, but miraculously, it worked and took me right to the cache! I was so bummed that I forgot to bring some Aussie coins to leave as swag, but the important thing is signing the log, which I was happy to do. 

View from near the cache. If you look closely, I do believe you can see some actively falling leaves, which I can assure was NOT staged at all.

After the cache was found, I could FINALLY relax and enjoy the hike (I’m kidding, but when you’re caching you spend a lot of time looking down at your device and sometimes miss the scenery, so I appreciated the fact that I found this at the beginning of our walk). Even though 80-90% of the beautiful colored leaves were at our feet, it was still a very lovely fall walk. Here is some of the color we were fortunate enough to see:

I was enthralled with how the branches sort of look like giant leaves, can anyone else see that?

And then! The trail took us to a clearing, which offered us a deliciously cooling wind. We walked through the field and were delighted to find a deer stand! Shh, because this is probably so not legal, but I just had to climb up and check it out. I wasn’t disappointed.

I could hunt. Not with guns and ammo, but with my camera. I would LOVE to sit up here all day and just wait for wildlife to saunter by. It would be very Marty Stouffer and a lot of fun.

I even convinced this batophobic kid to come up!

We both later decided that if a bear had come by, we would have waited in the blind for some time before hightailing it across the field, rather than going back through the woods, even though that would have added some miles to our walk. And there would have been a big fight about who had to go down first. Thankfully it did not come to that, but I still want to see my bear (from the car).

After our deer stand adventure, we headed back toward the cemetery, where I had accidentally dropped something of mine on the way out. Luckily it was still right where I dropped it when we returned. But we weren’t “out of the woods” yet before this

crossed our path. Now, I’m not afraid of snakes per se, especially nonvenomous ones, but it is HIGHLY alarming when one of these darts in front of you. I’m not going to name names, but one of us screamed a bit louder than the other, and then I followed the snake into the woods for pictures. I never noticed how offensive a garter snake’s tongue is. I mean, obviously, but that thing was unnaturally long and was red with a black tip. And it was mad at me for staring it down! Or so it seemed; I don’t believe reptiles have deep emotions, but this guy was pissed.

Another shot of our friend.

The hike was great, and if you ever get a chance to visit the Chassell Ski Trails, in any season, please do so. You won’t be disappointed!

Here’s a random tree that was not on our walk, it was actually on a street in Chassell, and I didn’t even get out of the car to take this, I just stuck my phone up and snapped away, and I ended up really liking the shot:

I love fall!

Today we are hoping to hike Bare Bluff and Montreal Falls, and I was so forlorn when I woke up to fog this morning! But the sun cleared it up within a few hours, so we ought to have another great day for off-peak fall color viewing.

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