IceOnNettingWith a three day weekend upon us, two very antsy dogs in the house, and yet another day of overcast, fog, and temperatures hovering between 28 and 34 degrees, we decided to Get Out Of Dodge anyway, and look for a new place to go for a hike. We also needed to run down to Milton-Freewater Oregon, 10 miles south of here, to pick up some rabbit chow.


Enough of this, pretty as it is!

A quick google search (aren’t you glad Al Gore invented the internet?) using “Milton Freewater Trails” turned up a description of Harris Park, and the South Fork Walla Walla River Trail,  a recreation area along the South Fork of the Walla Walla River. A short drive southwest of Muddy Frogwater (as the locals often refer to Milton Freewater) through lovely farm country, climbing into the river canyon, and we were there.

With only a bit of snow on the ground, we zipped the dogs into their $4 thrift store fleece vests and headed up the trail along the river. It was cold. It was foggy. It was lovely!


Frozen spring seep. Michael with Gideon.


Frozen icicle springs, through the saplings. Dragons teeth.

And up ahead, in the distance, we could see sunlight.


We see you sunlight. We seek your warmth.

Finally, finally, the trail turned enough in this narrow river canyon that our faces, if not our feet, were in the sun’s warmth. So we did what any winter sun starved biped would do. We scrambled up the steep slope, coaxing the dogs to follow, until we were about half way up the ridge and in full sunlight.
HarrisParkSunlightStripping off layers as we climbed, we eventually sat on a rock outcropping, basked in the sunlight, and watched the fog in the river canyon snake over the ridge like a sleepy dragon’s exhale. Let’s hear it for getting out of dodge!


On the way back out. Does this river not scream “trout fishing”? We did pass one angler who had caught a couple of nice rainbow.

We can’t wait to explore this area of “the Blues” in the spring. Evidently, the trail takes you from Umatilla county owned land, across BLM land, and then onto Forest Service land. You can hike all the way to the ski/snowboard area of Tollgate to the south if you are so inclined. Or head north and connect up with the North Fork Walla Walla River trail system.

On the way home, we stopped at Petits Noirs chocolates in Milton-Freewater. I’ve been meaning to stop here for a while, and we were SO glad we did. We talked with one of the owners for quite a while, sipped some of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had, ate a couple of “sample” truffles, and then spent $28 we didn’t have because it was all so danged good. About 70% of Petits Noirs sales comes from partnerships they have with local wineries. They have been in business about 7 years. If you are in the area, it is well worth the stop, even if it does blow your diet a little bit. Seriously, some of the best chocolate I’ve ever had!


Juncos at the suet feeder. I only feed birds in the winter. For a “make your own suet” recipe, visit the recipe tab. This one was made with goat tallow, old corn meal that probably contained some meal moth larvae, and a peanut butter whose expiration date was in 2003 )that I nabbed from the clean out of a friend’s deceased Father’s house for just this purpose – it smelled fine). Not a fine chocolate, that’s for sure, but the birds loved it.


Rossi has very thin hair, so he’s often cold. You’d think he’s just passing by, from this picture. He’s not. He’ll stand there for 10 minutes or so, warming up. Then he turns around and puts his back feet up and his front feet on the floor, and warms the other half. He cracks us up.

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2013, where we are pouring over seed catalogs, doing our best to keep our tail warm, and waiting waiting waiting for some sunshine.