I went for a bit of an explore in the Capitol Forest today. It’s rainy here, but in a spring-ish sort of way. This is different from the winter rains in a non-tangible sort of way that people who don’t live here probably can’t understand. But I have proof-positive that it is officially spring from my walk today. From the spring flowers to the club moss (at least, I think that’s what that is…) everything is blooming here.
trillium in bloom

{Edit: In the following pictures, I call them ensatinas, but I was wrong. I had to look up something about ensatinas the other day, and it turns out I had them confused with rough-skinned newts, which is what the animals below are. Ensatinas are much smoother and moist looking, and their eyes stick out way further. Around here, they are a similiar color pattern to the rough-skinned newt, but they vary wildly along the West Coast. Some of them are black with flourescent yellow spots even.}

Also, there were so many ensatinas out that I had to literally watch where I put my feet at every step so as to not step on them as they wandered across the trail. They are some of my favorite woodland creatures, very docile and peaceful, and I’ve never seen so many at once. I stopped to move them out of the trail every time I saw them in danger’s way. I saw dozens of them, but will only post a couple pics here.

I also had some nice reinforcement on the amount of time I spent wandering around in the woods in Onalaska. I knew in theory that I learned a lot about the flow of things in nature, and that I certainly became a lot more comfortable with the things that lived there. In Kamana, they insist that if you just spend a lot of time outside, ecology starts to make an intuitive sense even without reading any books about it or anything. So today, as I stopped to take a picture of some pretty flowers on a tree,

I heard a familiar buzz and looked around to see a male rufous hummingbird land in a tree just a few feet away from me and check me out. After a minute, he flew up to the top of a young Douglas Fir tree, which is just the sort of perch that the rufous humingbirds in Onalaska used to use all the time. And without pondering it at all, the thought came to me fully formed, “Wow, the salmonberries must be flowering.” And when I stopped to think about it, I realized that the hummingbirds showed up the same time the salmonberries flowered last year, although I don’t think I made the conscious connection until this year. And sure enough, just around the next corner…

Cool, huh? I spent a couple hours walking around. The Capitol Forest is a fairly extensive forest, managed commercially for logging by the Department of Natural Resources. The entrance I went to is just 7 miles from my front door, so that’s pretty cool. When it isn’t raining, it’d be a nice bike ride over there, and many of the trails are open to bikes. Here’s what it looks like wandering around in the woods when it *is* raining, as is usually the case. Check out that sexy raingear!

And lest we forget that most favorite of everyone’s Pacific Northwest woodland creatures, I saw a couple of these also. This one appears to be eating something gross, which is what slugs mostly do, in case you thought they only ate garden vegetables.

I did not pick this one up and move it out of the trail.