We recently took an overnight trip to the east side (east side of the cascades) near the Columbia gorge. We spent most of our time just exploring the landscape. We saw some very cool things. An owl sitting on its nest, a coyote den, petrified wood, lots of pretty flowers, the site of an attack on a porcupine and more.
The first day we explored along the edge of a canyon with a nearby stream winding between some small sand dunes.
I'm not sure what kind of flowers these are and unfortunately do not have a good plant guide for that side of the mountains, but it looks like it is in the pea family.
I don't know what these tracks are either. I would guess a medium sized rodent as they wandered through the sand often ending in holes a couple of inches across.
That evening I harvested a mullein stalk and got an aspen branch and with a little help got my first coal on a hand drill kit that had been wild gathered that day. That was fun, but it is still a different challenge over here on the west side. I think I could do it if I found a downed big leaf maple of the right size (though maybe not if it had been wet a lot recently), but that is not a given.
The next day we spent in a smaller canyon with its own set of interesting things. There were hawks nesting, more flowers and tons (literally) of beaver sign.
All the fallen trees were done in by beavers. I wonder how much longer the stand will last around there at the rate they seem to be going through them.
A small group of us hiked up to the canyon rim and explored around. While digging a lily bulb we turned up this Jerusalem Cricket. Apparently they eat bulbs - maybe we stole the meal out of his mouth.
I had a great time on the trip, it was a good reminder of how fun it can be to get out with a group of people and how much more can be seen with that many eyes spread out over the landscape.