Part II: A Walk on the Wild Side of Southern Oregon… from the Mail Box

Numerous ferocious animals are found along our mailbox route, including Charlie who barks more in a minute that the minute has seconds.

Ferocious animals are found along our mailbox route, including Charlie, who barks more in a minute that the minute has seconds.

I took you along for a walk to my mailbox in the last post. We hiked over Cody’s Bear Trail, went looking for a wayward skunk, and found the deer herd that believes it is the true owner of our property. Maybe it is. We then detoured through the Klamath National Forest, rejoined our neighborhood road and arrived at the mailbox.

Today we are completing the trip. We will walk along the Upper Applegate Road, check out the Applegate River, visit with one tiny and two huge dogs, and finish our hike on Ethan’s Hidden Trail. The total walk to and from the mailbox, with detours, is a mile and a half.

But first I have to report on two new developments. One, I found the skunk. He is a magnificent creature, by far the biggest skunk I have ever seen. I’d gone down after dark to collect our garbage can on the main road. And there he was, waddling. In fact he waddled right into our front road culvert. He is one culvert-loving skunk.  I am surprised he fit.

Two, I received an award from the Word Press blog Animal Couriers. I love these people. They transport people’s pets all over Europe but also throughout the world. And they do a lot with rescued animals. They’re good folks. Was the award for my great humanity, good looks, fine intelligence and quick wit? No, sigh. It was for my “off the wall” comments on their blog. So there you have it, in case you haven’t noticed before: I am an off the wall type of guy. I like it.

Upper Applegate Road, Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

On leaving the mailbox, our counterclockwise journey takes us along Upper Applegate Road. It’s my kind of highway. At night, I can drive the whole 13 miles without meeting another car. Charlie the Dog lives up the road on the right. Our river property is just above the grove of trees.

Trail on Upper Applegate River in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I quickly leave the road. There is the Applegate River to explore. Besides, if I had been born to walk on roads, I would have been born with wheels.

There is this sign... but I am sure they can't mean me. Plus I haven't met the owner to ask for permission in my three years of living here.

There is this sign… but I am sure they can’t mean me. Plus I haven’t met the owner to ask for permission in my three years of living here.

River rock covered in moss on Applegate River in Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I learned a long time ago that beauty surrounds us, if we are willing to see it. This river rock covered in moss is an example.

Wood grain photo on Applegate River in Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Another example: grains in wood. I found this long-dead limb just beneath the no-trespassing sign.

Applegate river in winter. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

And here is the Applegate River. It is running low now because we haven’t had much rain but that doesn’t detract from its beauty.

Manzanita growing on Applegate River in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Recognize this bush? It’s smooth skin is the primary clue. This is manzanita. In the spring it hosts small pink flowers that smell oh so sweet. In the fall it sports bright red berries.

Manzanita Flowers. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A photo of manzanita flowers I took last spring.

Oregon Red Cedar. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

We return to the road, walk past Charlie’s house, and come to this magnificent red cedar that marks our property line.

Granite rocks on Applegate River in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Before we head up Ethan’s Trail back to our house, we’ll make a quick detour onto the river property we co-own with out neighbors. We have to scramble over granite rocks to get there.

Applegate River. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

But the journey is worth it.

Lichen on rock along Applegate River. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Walking back from the river I find this lichen…

Pool of frozen water on rocks next to Applegate River in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

This small pool of water that was frozen over and offered a fun reflection. The pine needle on the left side provides a perspective on the size of the pool.

I also found this site of a feast. Poor birdie.

I also found this site of a feast. Poor birdie.

We have now arrived at our front road. Our sunroom is hiding behind the oak tree on the left. Ethan's Hidden trail starts in the trees on the right. I found the skunk about fifteen feet below where I took the photo.

We have now arrived at our front road. Our sunroom is hiding behind the oak tree on the left. Ethan’s Hidden Trail starts in the trees on the right. I found the skunk about fifteen feet below where I took this photo.

As I head over for Ethan's Trail more neighbor dogs come out to greet. These are A guard dogs and regard everybody but their master with suspicion. I think Griz is finally starting to like me. I've told him waht a good boy he is at least a thousand times.

As I head over for Ethan’s Trail more neighbor dogs come out to greet me. These monsters are Anatolian guard dogs and regard everybody but their master with suspicion. I think Griz is finally starting to like me. I’ve told him what a good boy he is at least a thousand times. He actually wagged his tail.

His brother Omni, on the other hand, has that look that says come across the fence so I can eat you. He lost his eye as a puppy.

Omni didn’t. He has that look that says come across the fence so I can eat you. He lost his eye as a puppy and has been irritated about it ever since.

Ethan's trail

Applegate Valley trail through ponderosa Pines and Douglas Fir. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

While Cody’s Bear Trail makes its way through White Oaks, Ethan’s Hidden Trail wanders through Madrone, Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Firs on the opposite side of our canyon.

Blackberry vines growing in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Blackberries fill the canyon. By August these vines are loaded with fruit that the deer help us harvest, delicately.

When we can see our pump house, we are almost home. An interesting aside... When we bought the property we noted that the ceiling of the pump house was filled with outlets. "What the heck?" we thought. And then the light dawned. We were in rural Oregon. The pump house had been used for growing pot. I tease Peggy that If our retirement funds ever run out, I am going to become a pot farmer.

When we can see our pump house, we are almost home. An interesting aside… when we bought the property we noted that the ceiling of the pump house was filled with outlets. “What the heck?” we thought. And then the light dawned. We were in rural Oregon. The pump house had been used for growing pot. I tease Peggy that if our retirement funds ever run out, I am going to become a pot farmer. She smiles indulgently.

Madrone tree in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Finally, when we arrive at the large Madrone that provides our back yard with shade on hot summer days, we are home. The smooth skinned Madrone is related to the Manzanita. Thanks for coming along on the Mailbox walk.

NEXT BLOG: I will return to our pre-Christmas visit to Puerto Vallarta where Peggy and I will visit the small town of San Sebastian located high in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

26 comments on “Part II: A Walk on the Wild Side of Southern Oregon… from the Mail Box

  1. Curt, now that was a nice walk! That manzanita tree was incredible–it looks like very tanned skin, very odd, yet surprising! The lichen looked like coral! Who knew a fungus could be so beautiful? Love the pup pics and if I were you, I’d stay away from the skunk. Tell Peggy hi and hope the both of you are great!

    • I’ll pass your hi onto Peggy, Bridgette. And I’ll try to keep a decent distance from the skunk. I’ve actually had them stand on their front feet and wave their tails at me. 🙂 You definitely don’t move. Once, when I was a kid and slept outside every summer, my greyhound climbed up on the bed with me right after she had been sprayed. It was bye bye bedding and new rules for Miss Greyhound. Fungus is often gorgeous. I have hundreds of photos to prove it. 🙂 –Curt

  2. Suspect you know what a lucky guy you are Curt (and no, not because of your ‘off the wall’ status!). The outward journey was special but the return quite magnificent. Love that you have hounds to keep you on the straight and narrow.

    • I can guarantee if those hound were down near the No Trespassing sign, Curt wouldn’t be trespassing. 🙂 I will note, however, that our neighbor Jim, gave our grandson Cody a ride on Griz, so I am suspicious that Griz’s bark is worse than his bite. –Curt

  3. Oh, I want to see that skunk! I can imagine it, but it surely outshines my imagination. I love the madone and manzanita. Along with the eucalyptus, they “are” California for me.

    It tickles me that the hidden trail is marked with a sign. It gives new meaning to that phrase, “hidden in plain sight”. And wondering now, because of the frozen water – do you ever get snow there?

    Our birdies’ water dishes were frozen solid this morning. I thawed and refilled them, and in 45 minutes – iced over again. All of us are astonished, especially the birds who keep trying to peck their way to the water.

    • I understand Linda that you are having the cold spell of the decade if not longer. Our daughter Tasha is in Tennessee so we are getting regular reports. Keep chipping away at the ice for the birdies– and keep warm.

      Ethan’s hidden trail sign, is sort of hidden. (grin) And it also has a hidden spring that various members of the animal kingdom use in the summer.

      As for snow, the answer is yes but not much. Usually it is around 6-12 inches and melts off in a day.

      I grew up in manzanita country in the foothills of California. Most of the eucalyptus trees and all of the madrone trees were on the coast with madrone mainly in the north up near the Oregon border.

      –Curt

  4. New stuff every day, I had never come across the Manzanita or the Madrone. I enjoyed the walk very much. Visualisation (i.e. imagining taking a walk) in the brain does more than tickle the optical areas, it can alert neurones in the motor cortex (am I boring you?) too. Because of the variations of scale in your photos, you have given my brain a lovely varied trip. Thanks.

  5. I love the field trips you take us on..Other than Mr Skunk (who would no doubt find me in all that wilderness), I could meander out there for hours.. So serene and pretty..As for the weed business, well there are some mighty happy shopkeepers in Denver right now..;-)

  6. Nice post Curt, and a good reminder of how much I loved winter walks in Oregon. We lived for a while in Newport, and when cabin fever would get the best of us, we’d head up one of the river valleys for a hike. One Christmas, the Forest Service had a “clear out the undergrowth” tree-cutting deal, and we hiked in and got a humongous Christmas tree -fresh cut- for $5. Win Win. ~James

  7. I’m late to the party here. Just getting my blogging legs back.

    Congrats on both the award AND not getting sprayed by that big skunk. Wonderful pictures. The close-up of the wood grains is really interesting. What a beautiful area to walk around. My brother lives in Washington, and I love going for walks around his neighborhood. The air seems so clean there, the sky so blue. Very different from NE Ohio (though it can be lovely here, too, just not in January…)

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