Early Winter in the Highlands Part 2 of 4: Short-Tailed Grouse Preserve
Ras and I moved to the Okanogan Highlands about 12 years ago. We moved from Bellingham so that we could buy a piece of land, build our own small home and raise our daughter, homeschooling her ourselves. We wanted to live simply. We found our 5 acre spot along Mary Ann Creek in the Chesaw area. Directly across from our property is a Short-Tail Grouse Preserve. This land extends as far as the eye can see and beyond. It nears the Canadian border. The area has a rich history and many old homestead buildings remain. There are old root cellars and stone buildings, barns of silvered wood still standing, pieces of old farming equipment, abandoned claims from the gold mining era and lots of old road beds to follow.
I drove to Lisa's house in the morning and picked her up. We left my car at the trail head that enters the preserve near my cabin and took off into the grassy landscape. There were some patches of snow, but mainly the ground was bare and the grasses were dead. There were lots of choices of road beds to follow, some mowed by Fish and Wildlife during the summer months. We decided to first climb to a lake near an area called Bootlegger's Pass we had both heard of before. Legend has it that the pass crosses into Canada and was used to transport liquor across the border back in the day. Before Ras and I were ultra runners, we used to wander around these hills with Angela, but we hadn't made it as far as the lake. I was intrigued by what we might find.
We were able to easily follow a roadbed that descended all the way down to the dirt road that passes in front of Lisa's home. We walked up her driveway in the dark and stepped inside to the warmth of wood heat and the complex fragrance of a vegan curry dish, wafting from her kitchen.