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Fishtrap Falls/Hog Lake Hike With Jack Nisbet

Tina Wynecoop 

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! 

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