steppe aire

We spend most of the time where it’s mossy, water drips down our noses and the cupboard under the stairs is full of musty jackets, sand collects in the corner by the front door with bags of concentrically-corresponding cobbles and driftwood walking sticks leave smudgy tic tac toes on the walls but Saturday found us on the townie side of the Whulge so Adam and I headed east into the shrub-steppe for a walk through bunchgrass and sagebrush in a quest to find some flowers before the big show, right now it’s quieter for listening to the Meadowlarks, pretty soon the colors will drown everything out even the sound of your own breathing and heart pounding.

April 2019 - Umtanum Ridge 416-2

Several zoomy tunnels followed by a floating bridge launched us into the dark green foothills where the transmission case shuddered before jerking to a low growl over the crest of the Cascades, leveling out past old coal towns and distinctly bluer skies finally culminating in a long descent into Kittitas Valley past irrigation pivots and enormous blocks of hay stacked like wooden blocks.

The wide-open country was enticing, so was that pleasant college town at the crossroads but we followed the Yakima River into the confines of the canyon bearing the same name and while the lack of trees was disorienting for these mossbacks, the spring greens were breathtaking (the cattle roaming that magnificent amphitheatre-like bowl, home to the loneliest willow tree on the planet, agree) and flyfisher lines artfully looped and shimmered so much we wondered how people on the ends of them didn’t fall down in their boats or into the river, with the fishes. Finally, we found a spot by the river and took the dusty, rocky path which is the gateway drug to harder places.

We journeyed up a draw featuring tinkling water (there be rattlesnakes) and when the miracle green sort of vanished we stopped to just feel the steppe.  This image is where the clouds fwoosh the baseball cap off your head and wind gusts untwirl your shoelaces, the human population density is low.

7 thoughts on “steppe aire

  1. How wonderfully you describe the beauties of the natural world! Here too the colors are coming on with such force that soon they’ll drown out even the Meadowlarks’ song. But what a lovely contrast your (gorgeous) image is to the description of the lush landscape you traversed to get there. These windswept, barren landscapes are a treasure too, aren’t they.

    • And barren is in the eye of the beholder. Every time I visit hereabouts it seems like I end up taking a badly needed advanced crash course in ecology when I get home. Things thrive in those windswept landscapes. Stuff that looks half-dead, even. All I really know (or remember from year to year) are the handful of flowers every dummy recognizes or the few birds that land on my head or the stuff that bites. Thanks for stopping by, Heide.

      • Remembering a few flowers — and recognizing the stuff that bites — is a good survival skill, dear T-Fir! So don’t sell yourself too short on that score … 🙂

  2. Exploring the Yakima River Canyon area has become a spring ritual for us. The landscape is lush and popping with wildflowers, and the air is filled with birdsong. You might even stumble upon the remains of an old homestead. Thanks for sharing!

    • It’s so nice to hear from you, Louise. Hope you’re having a wonderful spring, perhaps going on some rewarding, consuming bike tours. Yes, the springtime Yakima River Canyon is magnificent! Love that it’s a ritual for you, I’m not surprised as it has always struck me you have exceedingly good taste in where to spend time. Most of my exploration on the steppe has been the Columbia Plateau on the other side of the river so I was simply taken aback by the canyon, hadn’t been in there in a pretty long time.

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