Manifesting porcupines

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A bit of hiking diary excitement.

A couple of days ago – I’ve been meaning to write this before now – I looked at the map to see what trails I still need to hike this fall. There was that little bit of Jack Frost trail we didn’t get to, and since I hit the top of Mountainside trail on the last hike, I figured I’d do the rest of it, circle down to the spot on Jack Frost I missed, then hike a piece of Bicentennial trail. And I also thought I was going to get another hike in this vacation, but that didn’t happen either.

Here’s the map:

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And the entrance to the trail. Off of Mountain Road.

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The markers are blue. As a matter of fact, so were the ones on Jack Frost trail. I think they need another color. But at least there are lots of signs.

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There were no cars in the parking lot, so I decided to let Koda loose for awhile. I only went with Koda this time. As I let her off leash it did cross my mind that another reason to keep her on leash, even if no one is around, is in case we run into a porcupine. But I took my chances. Because it’s so rare that she gets to roam free like this. And she’s good. She goes a little ways off, exploring, but always waits for me. She’s a sheepdog and I’m her sheep. She can’t help herself.

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Here she is by a big rock. There are lots of big rocks on the mountain. Lots of rocks, period. And at this time of year, lots of leaves. So pretty.

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And some BIG leaves, too! Crazy.

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Loved this cool log. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a thing about trees….

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Seems like something should be living in there, doesn’t it?

We eventually hit the junction with loop trail.

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That would head to the right, back to the visitor center. We’ll do that another day. A little further on…

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Hard to read, but this is the junction with Jack Frost trail. A family was hiking and loved Koda and asked to take her picture. I had toyed with the idea of going to the top then heading back down to here and onto Jack Frost, but for some reason (maybe a couple of late nights beforehand?) I wasn’t feeling highly energetic so I decided to skip the extra climb.

What surprised me was how quickly we hit the pine forest after turning onto Jack Frost, which I always come at from the other side. This will actually be an easier way to get to the pine forest in the winter, which a fellow hiker told me is magnificent at that time of year.

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Pretty, huh? Look at that brilliant red! This is the BEST time of the year to hike, in my opinion.

I tried taking some panoramic shots while in the forest. I couldn’t decide which one to post, so here are two. The sunnier (top) one starts further to the left of me, the darker one goes further right. The sunny side is uphill, the darker side heads downhill.

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You can see the overlap of the two photos via the split-looking tree that is about 1/4 of the way in the bottom picture, and 2/3 of the way in the top one (which is actually two trees).

Eventually we got to the rock I usually sit on to contemplate. Pine forests are as still as still can be. I think that’s why I like them so much.

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Someone had built a rock sculpture.

Despite having been in this spot dozens of times, I lost the trail. Not sure why. It just looked different this time of year. I eventually found this marker.

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Barely could see it. Someone should fix that.

Next trail junction….

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Headed down to High Meadow! Love High Meadow.

I noticed with the trees losing their leaves, that a view was revealed.

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I also noticed, just as I was getting the picture ready, that it looks like a man is standing there in the trees! And, interestingly, when I took this next picture, off in the other direction, I heard a heavy breathing that made me think “dang, that doesn’t sound like Koda, I hope it’s not a bear.”

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I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!

But I skedaddled.

Here is the view, opening up more:

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And more:

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I usually walk this in the other direction and never really noticed this spot. Sheesh. The things you miss when you only look in one direction. (There is a metaphor in that, people.)

A little further on….

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Isn’t this approach to high meadow charming? Iphone quality, but still charming. Waaaaayyyyy better in person. I sat down on that bench. And decided to let Koda loose again, to run around the orchard (I had put her back on leash when we ran into that family hiking).

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I was lost in my thoughts, but then Koda caught my attention. She all off a sudden ran to the far side of the field and laid down. I remember thinking, she looks like she’s herding something. So I got out my phone to start videotaping it. I’ll spare you that video, because at the end of it (which is pretty soon into it) I yell “Oh God!” as she approached a porcupine! Um, didn’t I just think about this at the beginning of my hike? (Hence, the title of this post.)

porcupine

I yelled “NO” as loud as I could, and “LEAVE IT” and a drawn out “BA-A-A-A-D” like a growl and screamed her name and finally she at least ran in the other direction. Then I realized she wasn’t coming back to me if I was yelling at her so I started telling her she was a good girl and I got her on leash. Her nose had gotten so close to that porcupine’s quills that I checked her over. But she was clear. I was so thankful!

I tied her up and then went back to take a video of the little guy.

She waited patiently:

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And then we headed down Bicentennial Trail, back to Mountainhouse.

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Bicentennial parallels Mountain Road. It’s kind-of surreal hiking on a mountain and hearing cars zooming by at the same time. For that reason it’s not a favorite, but other than that it’s a nice trail, very level, you aren’t climbing or descending.

Oh, I forgot to mention, right after I was yelling at the top of my lungs at High Meadow so Koda wouldn’t take a bite of that porcupine, which she looked intent on doing, two fellow hikers came into the meadow.

“You probably heard me screaming.”

“Yeah, we did. But it didn’t sound like you were hurt or dying.”

I filled them in on why I had provided the noise pollution.

And really, I’m sure anybody anywhere on the mountain probably heard me that day.

But the porcupine was cute, and Koda didn’t get quilled.

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