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CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - June 2016

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Cloudland Cabin Cam, June 27 - rain overnight, a blanket of baby clouds this morning

Quick Journal update Monday morning the 27th

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Print Of The Week special - sunlight ripples

06/01/16 FREE SHIPPING ON ALL RETAIL ORDERS! We've decided to pay shipping on all orders beginning today - order one item or 20 - no shipping charges. Most orders are processed and shipped within 48 hours. We will ship Media Mail or First Class Mail (or UPS for canvas print orders). Priority Mail is available at extra cost.

06/02/16 Got to spend a glorious four hours on a quiet wilderness river yesterday afternoon and on into evening, hiking back out to the van through dusky-darkness while I could still just barely see. I spent nearly all of my time on top of a single sandstone boulder that was out in the middle of the river - the scenes around me just seemed to get better and better the longer I was there. (I was very careful the entire time not to disturb any of the clumps of tough moss growing on the rock.)

The river was up and running pretty well, and the rocks below the water were slick, so I got to use my "tripod walker" technique to cross the river safely. How funny I must have looked while inching my way across the river this way, and wearing my bike helmet and camera backpack!

The forest all around was wet and LUSH with recent rainfall, and the airwaves were filled with the sounds of not only the rushing waters at my feet, but also of the various birds who were playing/working/seeking mates in the treetops.

And then thunder arrived, and with it a classic summer thunderstorm, only with gentle rainfall that only lasted a little while. The colors of the landscape got even richer when the storm passed. I had already set up an umbrella to protect my camera and tripod, so the rain didn't bother me a bit. I rather enjoy being out in the rain, and kept on shooting.

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Later on it seemed like the river was getting cloudy, not quite a lush, clear, and beautiful as it had been. As I began to work my way upstream I found the reason - a side creek that entered just upstream was dumping chocolate milk into the pristine waters of the river. It must have dumped a bunch of rainfall in the headwaters of the side creek, although the rain that hit had me was not nearly as hard or as much. It was kind of weird to see the beautiful waters be infused with chocolate, but 'tis the nature of rainfall. There was almost no agricultural operation in the headwaters, so the mud was merely the result of a heavy downpour and would clear up by today I bet.

Things are quiet at our Cloudland Cabin today, with the wilderness pausing to take a breath while waiting on the next round of storms. My work continues at a hectic pace as I scramble to figure out what to go shoot next, and where, and for what - picture book or calendars? I have no idea how I ever did anything before I met my lovely bride - she spends so much time just trying to keep our businesses going, I could never do it. I'm always amused when someone asks her "So what do YOU do while tim is out taking pictures?" Folks just don't understand that taking pictures is NOTHING compared to all the business that is required to support it - and Pam just nearly all of that. She works seven days a week, sometimes 12-18 hours a day just like I do.

Today Pam is working on the design and layout of our two new 2017 Arkansas calendars. That means it's time for me to get with the program and complete work on pictures to fill those publications. I'm headed back into the woods with my bike helmet and tripod walker while my lovely bride works at the computer - sorry honey...

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a wild rose near Cloudland yesterday

06/06/16 Just a few moments ago I was standing in the middle of a high mountain meadow near our cabin as the last hints of daylight faded into night. There was a slight breeze, and tall stalks of hay waved back and forth gently. Above me the sky grew ever darker - or rather RICHER in color, and tiny dots of light began to emerge. Star light, star bight, first star I see tonight...

A tiny silver sliver of a moon was setting in the northwest. The serenity of it all was broken many times as dueling whippoorwills cried out - goodness they can be LOUD when a person is just trying to pause and soak in the silence of the wilderness!

It was almost midnight before I hiked into a different ridgetop meadow last night. The Milky Way and a zillion other stars were shining brightly and moving quickly across the sky. I kept hiking higher and higher, wanting to get as close to the stars as I could - and also so that my lens could see as many as possible.

It was a little eerie out there in the middle of the darkness - or actually it was not darkness at all for there was a great deal of starlight. But there was the THOUGHT of darkness, and the fear of the unknown all around me. I normally don't think much about being alone in all of that; but last night was different somehow. The hay that I was walking through was about chest high - some of it up to my shoulders. I had to kind of wade through it - not physically, but emotionally. I turned on my red headlamp now and then just to gaze around to see if there were any other eyes out there gazing back at me. And then I realized that most wild critters would be much shorter than the tall hay, and even a bear could be just a few feet away and I possibly could not see him.

And then there they were - a pair of eyes staring right back at me - they cut right through all that tall hay. Stopped me in my tracks for sure. It was one of those times when my strong headlamp was not strong enough to see the body that belonged to the eyes - but those peering eyes sure did stand out! And no matter how much I moved around, from side to side, towards or away, the gaze never wavered nor blinked. What the heck was it?

I retreated into the nearby woods where I felt more protected - if the eyes got up and charged at least I could put a mature oak in between us for a few seconds. Eventually I made my way to the top of the ridge and came back out into the tall hay meadow, then another 100 yards or so out into the middle. I set my camera backpack down and started to set up my tripod. My goodness the Milky Way was BRIGHT! I could look all around and see hay, hay, and more hay! Seven years after taking my first Milky Way photo (and using the very same lens too), I've still not attained a perfect image of our galaxy. I set up and shot a series of text photos using a new technique to see if I could get closer to that goal. Here is the test image I shot (with green "airglow"):

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The noises began about half way through my test images (I had to shoot a series of ten photos for the test, each one a long exposure). I could not quite make out what the noise was, or even where it was coming from. But it sounded a little weird. Hum.

That final test image could not get finished fast enough! Then I quickly packed up my gear and took off back across the meadow headed for the woods without even packing my tripod correctly. Stop and look all around. Listen. No, get MOVING towards the protection of the WOODS you fool! I believe an actual chill ran down my spine with just about every step. I still couldn't quite put my finger on it, but there was SOMETHING out there. It was probably just an armadillo, but you know how imagine can run amuck in a hurry. Mine was.

And then I passed by that pair of EYES again - they had not budged an inch, and were still staring, glaring right at me. I was one spooked little boy by then!

I made it back to the van and drove down into Boxley and made my way to the southern end of the valley where I walked out into another hay meadow. This one was soaking wet, as was the air - we had already reached the dew point and even a bit of fog was forming. I searched around quickly trying to find a picture to take - I arrived there with absolutely no composition or subject in mind. Well I take that back - the subject was the Milky Way, I just didn't know what to put in front of it.

Then I turned around and remembered an old barn* that was tucked away almost under the hillside, surrounded by trees. The Milky Way was towering above it, but since the barn was hidden back there in the trees, it did not appear in my pictures. But the stars sure did look nice!

I have a special light panel that I use these days for such things, and I even remembered to bring it with me, so I spent some time setting it up and taking test pictures with the front of the barn lit up. The air continued to soak everything, and small fog banks would form and move around a little bit, then be whisked away out of the frame.

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I spent a couple of hours in that meadow working with the barn and the light and the stars. Later met a couple of guys who arrived to photograph a special iridium satellite flare that was going to happen about 4am - some of the crazy things we nighttime photographers do! They already had captured one during the night, but were waiting on the really bright one.

About the time it happened I was back up on the top of Cave Mountain at Hedges Pouroff pointing my camera up into the wilderness. There were a few clouds gathered below, and the Milky Way was standing almost straight up. I wondered what the pair of eyes in the high meadow as up to at 4am? (I never figured out what sort of critter it was.)

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A couple of days ago I made three quick trips into waterfall areas. Thinking back a couple of them were quite opposite. One trip was during the "breakup" day when the rains had almost finished and the clouds were giving way to blue skies. I had hiked into the Dismal Hollow Special Interest Area and had to wait a full hour for a cloud to pass in front of the sun before I could take a picture. This was one reason why they invented yoga - I could stand there in a yoga pose for quite a while waiting on that cloud and not feel like I was wasting my time! The cloud did arrive and for about 20 seconds I was in heaven - the light down in that deep canyon was magical! And well worth the wait.

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The day before I had hiked down into Bowers Hollow in the middle of the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area and everything was soaked to the bone, as was I after the first step. This was thick, Ozark JUNGLE at its best - or perhaps I should say at its worst. Holy rainforest Tarzan, it was THICK in there!!! But the light was just amazing, and the big waterfall was magical - like climbing down into a fairyland. And while I had photographed this big waterfall a couple dozen times before during the past 30+ years, I almost immediately came upon a view of it that I'd never seen or photographed. And I spent the next two hours trying to capture it. 'Twas a reflection of the big falls in a pool downstream.

Then the light began to fade, and I glanced at my "fitbit" watch only to discover it was DEAD, and I had probably lingered there too long - it would be dark before I could get back to the van. So I decided to take a "shortcut" to climb out of the canyon. This is I think the largest and most powerful of all the great waterfalls in the headwaters of the Buffalo River, and the wilderness only allows access through the bluff in a couple of spots - one of each side of the canyon. I had entered on the north side, but I figured I could exit on the south side and it would be a quicker/shorter hike out. Turns out both breaks in the bluffline are in almost exactly the same spot, just across the canyon from each other. No matter, I was up and out and doing a pretty good clip in no time and the hike back to the car was a pleasant one. When you spend as much time as I do seeking out a magical moment like I had just been a part of at the reflecting pool, that feeling tends to stay with you for a while - just what I needed to the hike back to the van in the dark.

And so the rains ended and the sky cleared and now brilliant sunshine is baking all that water out of the landscape. And I've switched to the night shift - no moon and clear skies all week - YIPPIE! But I'm afraid my old body has taken quite a beating this past few weeks of bushwhacking through the wilderness with heavy camera gear, and while I enjoyed being out all night last night, I'm gonna take tonight off and try to rest my weary bones a bit. Before I do I think I'll wander out onto the back deck and see what the Milky Way is up to!

*While doing research into that old barn I had photographed last night, I discovered that the very first pioneer family that settled in Boxley built their log cabin on the spot where that barn now sits - in 1840! The current barn was build in 1920 so is no spring chicken itself. There is a long history of this little spot at the south end of Boxley that I never knew about - thanks to Ken Smith and Jim Lilies and Suzy Rogers for keeping the history of our cultural heritage alive...

06/09/16 I'm in Milky Way mode this week - been spectacular clear skies and bright stars, but still tons of humidity - once dew forms on your lens, you're done. Last night the seemed quite "dry" - that is until I big out-of-focus spot appeared on my photos. I had not properly prepared for the dew point arriving so soon, and I struggled to bring the lens back under control - and I finally did and got my best photo of the night.

In fact I spent three hours roaming around a hay pasture - or often just standing there waiting on a long exposure to end. And waiting on the Milky Way to climb up over the distant ridge and look down into the valley towards my camera. I could see it coming for an hour. There was some lingering moonlight too, as the crescent moon dipped low into a "saddle" of the ridge far off to the west - that low spot in the ridge allowed the moonlight to light up the tips of the hay bales until the very last moment.

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There were TONS of lightning bugs in the field - you can see one - a long green stripe in the center of the hill

I had given myself a deadline of midnight to stop shooting and go to bed, but as is always the case, I kept on shooting - "just ONE more and I'll be done!" I don't mind staying up all night - and often do working on the Milky Way as it rises and arches across the sky. But I had to be in Bentonville at 7:30am for an appointment to get the photomobile van looked at, and I really needed a few hours of sleep first. So I reluctantly made the last long exposure - and two or three more - then packed it all up and headed for the van. I needed to move the van across the street to a legal overnight parking spot, even though I would only be there for about four hours - that's when my alarm went off - at 4:30am. I got up and made a cup of coffee, then headed towards Bentonville. I was first in line!

While at the van shop I started reading The Bridges Of Madison County. Yup, that one. I'd seen the movie on opening day in Eureka, California while on my 11-month marathon photo trip around the United States in 1995. (43 states, 50,000 pictures for a singe picture book, Wilderness Reflections). I LOVED the movie - what's not to love - Clint Eastwood as a National Geographic photographer, and oh yes, a love affair! But I've never been much of a book reader, so until today the movie was all I knew about it. And then I picked up the little book and started to read this morning and it was AMAZING! It really is a great book, worthy of all the praise. And my kind of book...

06/10/16 Just a quick update from the road tonight (we are camped at a state park south of Des Moines, Iowa). On our way to a meeting up north we stopped today and visited the bridges of Madison County in Iowa. I'm a hopeless romantic, but never realized they were so close to the route I've been taking to Minnesota since I was five years old (or even before that - I only first remember the trip to grandpa's farm in Minnesota when I was five). While I know the book was fiction, a lot of the locations from the book and the movie are real, and it was fun to spend some time there and see them in person. And it was great to inspect the old timbers from many of the bridges that were built in the 1880's. We're going to have to watch the movie again and connect some dots...

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my lovely bride at Roseman Bridge (where a lot of the movie was filmed)

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06/14/16 BRIGHT moon late tonight high in the southern sky. Air so thick with heat and humidity it is like an air cake. That air is quiet and still - nothing stirring nor making a sound. That is until a whippoorwill cries out! Soon the nighttime airwaves will be filled with singing frogs and night bugs and it will be pretty loud. But for now it's all quiet on the home front.

We made a four-day road trip north through lush rural landscapes of Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to take pictures, give a slide program, visit deep into my mom's family with some of my favorite relatives, and also to explore a little bit for future trips. I re-lived a whole lot of childhood memories, and also showed my bride where I'd taken two of my favorite photos from the very early years of my career. Both photos were taken on my grandparent's farm in Minnesota (a "negative" print of the barn photo from 1979 is in the permanent collection of the Arkansas Arts Center; and the canoe photo from 1984 has been published by dozens of magazines over the years, including the back cover of Country magazine). Plus a bonus snapshot of the happy couple, photo by Rick Kraus.

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On the drive back yesterday I got so tired and sleepy that I had to pull off and turn the wheel over to Pam. I crawled under the covers and slept like a brick for about 30 minutes, then woke up completely refreshed and ready to go again. The bookmobile is such a great vehicle for this sort of trip, with a toilet, kitchen, shower, and even a king-size bed on board - it's our hotel and office all in one; and unless it is really hot all night we don't need a campground or hookups (water/electric/sewer) since it's self-contained. We stayed at a state park one night in Iowa that we booked in advance to make sure we had a spot to park, but it turned out to be a zoo and we were glad to get out of there early the next morning (GREAT hiking trail around a lake there though!)

I am just about finished with the photography part of the new picture book that I've been working on, and soon I'll go into design and production mode for the next month or so. Pam has already been working on the two new 2017 calendars, and I hope to select the photos for those later this week. It's a good time of the year to be locked up inside with a computer, although I still enjoy a morning stroll when the air is cool and sweet.

06/16/16 YIKES! We hit 87 degrees at Cloudland today - been a long time since it was that warm up here on the mountain. It always seems to be about ten degrees cooler here on hot days. Yesterday it only got up to 85, and it was a very pleasant 85 degrees too. We sat on the back deck grilling turkey burgers and veggies and lingered on after the plates were licked clean enjoying the cool breezes.

Wasn't I just talking about how quiet it was here at night? And a few minutes ago the first cicada of the season got cranked up pretty good - I guess that guy might be trying to signal the official start of summer. So in case anyone is keeping score, it takes 87 degrees to wake up the cicadas on Cave Mountain.

I spent most of the day glued to the computer screen over in the gallery building going back through several hundred thousand photos - they'll eventually be narrowed down to about 150 that will be in our new publications.

Along the way I came across this image of Cedar Falls at Petit Jean State Park that was taken when the creek was flooded - the waterfall was clean and white and the forest lush and green, but the water was kind of muddy. I may not use it for anything this year, but I flipped the black and white switch to see what it would look like.

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'Tis fitting that I post a black and white photo this evening - I've been outside taking pictures of the moon in what I call the "Ansel Adams" phase. My all-time favorite Ansel Adams photo includes a 3/4 moon on the way up, just like it is tonight.

Tomorrow night (Friday the 17th) will be the final showing of our ARKANSAS NIGHTSCAPES slide program. It was easily the most difficult slide show to photograph and process and create, and I've seen it 100 times or more, but so far I've never tired of it. We'll be at the library in Springfield, Missouri for the 7pm show. Hope to see some of ya there to wave so long to the stars...

06/20/16 It was my understanding that the photography part of the new picture book was completed, so I have no idea why I rolled out of bed at 4 this morning, packed up a lot of camera gear, and headed out. 'Tis the nature of the beast that lives within I guess. The air and light wherever I went was sweet and ever-changing, colors were lush. I made five stops to photograph mostly wildflowers, and some of the landscape too, but I never even got close to water, which is where I normally head first thing.

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Then brilliant, harsh sunshine burned through the fog and my shooting was over, so I headed back up Cave Mountain Road towards our Cloudland cabin home. By the time I arrived my lovely bride had already taken the pups on a three-mile hike, had mowed the yard, and was starting to process book orders. I was ready for breakfast.

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Yesterday was a day of small things, or at least small things on the forest floor. We noticed more and more tiny hickory nuts falling - green ones, normal shaped, but only a fraction of their mature size. Same thing with acorns and "cowcumber" tree fruit - all miniature versions of what they will look like in a couple of months at maturity. We've had good amounts of rainfall this past month, so I'm not sure what might have stressed them into dropping early - unless all the rainfall followed by lots of sunshine and warm temps got the trees to growing so much that they could not hold all the new fruit, I don't' know.

And then I found a tiny leaf on the ground that was in full fall color dress - almost Christmas colors in fact. It was only about a half inch long, yet easily stood out in the landscape apart from everything else. I sat down next to this little guy and examined him a little while, then decided I needed a picture - but I didn't have my camera with me, so I carefully picked him up and carried him along for the rest of my journey - about an hour's worth of ramble through the forest. While small, it was a tough little leaf, thick and waxy, and it made the trip just fine. Just as a note looking out into the future, I have a feeling that we'll have a very spectacular fall colors season here in Arkansas this year, perhaps one of the best in a long time. The little guy told me so.

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We had a splendid program in Springfield Friday night, with more people than we expected on such a hot day. It was especially nice to see so many Journal readers there - you can always tell when an item or subject is mentioned that could only have come from this Journal. It was sad to bid farewell to the Arkansas Nightscapes program though, some things die hard.

It was just after midnight coming back from Springfield when we hit Boxley Valley. There was a bright moon illuminating the fields and hills, and also a developing fog bank swirling around - actually two fog banks - one clinging to the ground, and a second one that was hovering about 200 feet in the air. We stopped and got out and were in awe - or rather kind of stunned at the surreal view before us. I did not bring any of my real cameras with me, but I did have my "shapshot" camera with me and took apart an old tripod that Pam uses as a light stand for the Black Mat Prints at the program. There was no head on this tripod, but I was able to screw the camera directly to the top of the tripod. I had to position the camera by raising and lowering different tripod legs to get the camera to point in the direction that I wanted. And since it was so dark even in the moonlight, I could not SEE anything when looking through the camera, so I kind of had to just point the camera in the direction of where I hoped a picture would be, then zoom the lens and focus - all by guessing. Each exposure was about a full minute long, so I had to wait that long before I saw what the camera was actually pointing at. Of course, the scene changed during that time so each exposure I made was completely different from the one before. After about 30 minutes I gave up and finished the trip home - arriving about 1am. Sorry for the delay honey!

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Work is progressing on the new picture book and calendars - I've gone through a couple hundred thousands photos from the past several years through the end of 2015 and pulled about 300 for further review. Today I'll start on 2016 pictures and hope to get through all of those by tomorrow. It is always interesting going back through so many memories, and have had to stop myself dozens of times from looking at photos I knew wouldn't be used (not from my shooting area, have already been used, or were just personal snapshots) - I'm on a tight deadline and some of those memories will have to be put off until I get the book done...

06/21/16 Happy first day of summer! Last night just before dusky-dark I was outside on the back deck letting myself "air dry" from an outdoor shower when I heard a noise. At first it sounded like the heavy breathing of a bear, but I looked around and realized it was a PERSON standing down in the middle of Mom's meadow! Not wanting to get caught showing my full moon, I scurried inside and sent Pam out to greet the hiker. My spirits crashed when I heard the phrase "hiker fell off the bluff."

The hiker was Grant Scarsdale, who had been hiking out to the Crag with his buddy Jeff Rose to watch/photograph the moonrise (Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca). As they were hiking along the bluff-top trail, they heard someone calling for help - a young female was actually down below the bluff. She told them she had gotten lost and was trying to find her way back up to the trail. Grant knew that we lived nearby, so he left his buddy there while Grant headed throuhg the woods towards Cloudland.

Long story short (well, maybe medium), When Grant and I reached the Crag his buddy Jeff and two other hikers (Brandon and Amber from down south) were there but they had not seen nor heard from the yound lady in a while and did not know where she had gone. Just then - as we were all standing on top of the Crag trying to figure out what to do - one of the most incredible moonrises ever happened right out in front of us. The Strawberry Moonrise was indeed SPETACULAR! But none of us paid much attention - we had to find the lost hiker.

After a brief search of the blufflien between the Crag and our cabin, we decided it was time to call in the professionals - it was dark by this time and the situation had become more critical. But before we could make that call, we heard yelling from back at the Crag - the young lady had been found - YIPPIE! She had somehow found her way back up through the only split in the bluffline for a long distance and hiked back to the Crag, where the folks there gave her water and let her rest. How she found and made i up that spot in the dark without a flashlight we'll never know. There was monlight of course, but it had not reache that section of the bluff yet.

She talked of getting lost, falling off a short bluff and then wandering around in the wilderness below for many hours. She had two dogs with her - Grant heard one of them barking eariler - but she did not know where they were. Somewhere along the way she had lost her shirt and footware, and had been hiking barefoot. Her feet were in pretty bad shape, and one of the other hikers tore up a towel he had and wrapped them around her feet so she would be able to hike out. It took about 30 minutes to get her back up to the road, then we drove her back to her car.

Exactly what happened to her while she was lost will be forever a mystery - and it really doesn't matter. When someone gets lost and disoriented, perhaps dehydrated and even heat stroke/exhaustion, combined with the trama of falling off a bluff, even the best of hikers could end up in her situation. She was an experienced hiker out for a short hike on an easy trail that she had hiked before. Sometimes LIFE just happens to ya. If not for Grant and Jeff being there and taking action right away no teling how this story would have ended (here are details that Grant wrote up).

So the young lady was OK and on her way back home to Fayetteville. My attention turned to her two lost puppies. With little to go on, I simply tried to backtrack her journey, or at least what I knew about it. I found the first pup, Ted, below the bluff just after first light this morning. He was wearing a collar and a leash, and the leash had gotten tangled up in the rocks at the base of the bluff and he was unable to go anywhere. He was not happy to see me at first, but he eventually warmed up to me and allowed me to release him. He was obviously distraught about being seperated from his owner.

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Ted and I spent an hour searching along the base of the bluff and then long the top of the bluff back to the Crag. I got him back to the cabin adn had Pam call his owner. Turns out she had already returned to the trail and was looking for her pups too - despite her shredded feet in bandages. I found her back at the trailhead and the reunion was a joyous one.

I returned to the wilderness and continued my search for her second puppy, Benett. By this time other folks had heard about the lost puppies and were also out looking for Benett (, including Grant, and also local puppy-rescue legend, Kevin Middleton. I never knew who else was out looking - but a very special thanks to any of you who were involved! My plan was to get down into the most rugged place I could find and work my way back up. There was no organized search - in fact I never saw any of the other searchers. But I did manage to find Benett - he was indeed down in a deep canyon at the bottom of the South Fork of Whitaker Creek, and trapped on a narrow ledge near where the young lady had fallen over the bluff. The hillside was so steep that it took me several minutes to reach him - I could not stand up nor even crawl on this hillside it was so steep and slippery. But I got him and he was OK. Bennett was so small that I was able to load him into my daypack, where he rode all the way back out to the road without a wimper - in fact I think he enjoyed the ride!

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So there you go - there were three very successful outcomes from this incident that could have been so much worse. And is always the case, total strangers came together to help out, even in the middle of the heat and miserable hiking conditions. A special THANKS to everyone who lent a hand, even if that was to spread the word online.

YIPPIE COYOTE!!!

06/23/16 No need for an alarm clock this time of the year - one of several whippoorwills always breaks the silence well before dawn with a WAKE UP, GET OUT OF BED, YOU SLEEP HEAD!!! And it's the time of year when I can sit on the back deck as twilight slowly creeps in, sipping a small cup of java, and enjoy the cool breezes blowing in from the wilderness. It is anything but quiet and peaceful though - there are scores of birds that are already into their daily routine, with lots of chatter and music along the way. One Indigo bunting in particular always sits on the same dead snag each morning and just sings his little heart out. I guess there is peace and order in the middle of all the chatter after all.

I took the pups on a three-mile fitness hike just as the sun arrived this morning. No squirrels. No deer. But there were a few horseflies following along. Pam is on the road for a couple of days so our hike was short since we had to get back to the cabin and get started on the chores she normally does. HONEY, WE MISS YOU! (and your flowers are looking great!)

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06/27/16 For once I was up and out on the back deck this morning before the birds got up. It was almost complete and total silence. For about five minutes. Then one little tweety bird began to sing, slowly and softly, her gentle tone just sort of drifted about on the air like the mist that was rising from the canyon below. Soon she was joined by another feathered friend - just a lovely duet. These birds were a ways off, but farther away another layer of music began - different species of birds I guess. A few birds close in started singing, but they were louder with piercing voices. And then everyone got into the act, and the wilderness was fully awake! HAPPY MONDAY MORNING is what I think they were trying to say. And indeed it was.

We had a round of storms roll through during the night but I think they were mostly lightning and not much rain. Although the landscape is wet today and I see about a half inch recorded - 'tis enough to wet the ground and keep the dust from flying, and also to give the forest a little drink. It also cooled the air - cooler outside than in at dawn for the first time in a few days. They are calling for more clouds rolling through all week.

I join the birds wishing you a HAPPY MONDAY!

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