You know you are on to something special when your organization (flsrv. org) sponsored an outdoor event this spring and 15 of the 20 attendees were our ‘neighbors’ from Spokane’s south hill Rockwood Retirement Communities! Following a year’s hiatus, our decade long annual hikes to someplace wonderful in our region and guided by Jack Nisbet, led us to explore Fishtrap Falls which connects Fishtrap Lake with Hog Lake.
The morning hike through pineywoods and open shrub-steppe landscape took place in the Cheney-Palouse scablands. The view of the gorgeous stairstep waterfall that feeds Hog Lake was just one of the highlights: wildflowers, birds, bird song, geological features, wetlands, and cultural sites added so much to the morning as we immersed ourselves in the ancestral homeland of the Spokane Indians.
How many of us have zoomed past this landscape as we drive I-90? How many have imagined that this landscape didn’t exactly excite our interest? Well, what we miss by not hiking the grassland that quietly shelters its secret beauty. It was here that our guide led us as we walked among native plants and wildlife that sustained these first people. We were in a 15,000 year-old “grocery store” as it were…it was here we could explore what might be called their “Rosauers, Fred Meyer, Huckleberries and Safeway” all wrapped up in a bountiful, sustaining landscape. Jack shared his knowledge of the traditional ways, ways that are being revived among today’s tribal people. “We are still here,” they say, and the landscape affirms their presence.
A special moment happened as we observed an “immigration” of Turkey vultures soaring over the falls – so serene in their spring travels northward. I was wishing we could stop right there and share a favorite poem by Robinson Jeffers titled,
I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a bare hillside
Above the ocean, I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture wheeling high up in heaven,
And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit narrowing, I understood then
That I was under inspection. I lay death-still and heard the flight-feathers
Whistle above me and make their circle and come nearer.
I could see the naked red head between the great wings
Bear downward staring. I said, “My dear bird, we are wasting time here.
These old bones will still work; they are not for you.”
But how beautiful he looked, gliding down
On those great sails; how beautiful he looked, veering away in the sea-light over the precipice. I tell you solemnly
That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that beak and become part of him, to share those wings and those eyes– What a sublime end of one’s body, what an enskyment;
What a life after death.
Three hours of wonderful viewing ended back at our parking spot. We all thanked Jack for opening our eyes, enriching our worldview, and for his generous sharing, so knowledgeably, about our region.
We also thank our board member, Harla Jean, for organizing these amazing hikes each year.
Hope to see you in 2022!