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16 March, 2009

Ecotone Creek

There is a major creek that feeds the Columbia. In fact, it's called Major Creek, for reasons lost in the mists of history (which ain't very long here, but no matter). For reasons obvious to only a few readers, it was imperative upon me to survey said watershed a few months ago. Just early enough to beat the snow (wintry bane of surface survey), but not before the onset of the rains.

Being who I am, I started in the wettest, steepest, most nastiest part, just to get it out of the way. And also because on the west side of Major Creek, it was so rainy and foggy that I couldn't tell; the other side was nice.

Being who I am, evermore and contradictorily so, let us begin the tour with the end, and work our way back to that gloomy beginning.

The photo abover is the east side of Major Creek. Ponderosa pine and scrub oak, grass and licheny outcrops. Eastern Washington hills, in other words.

Major Creek lies a thousand feet below. Where it dumps into the Coumbia, it is more or less like this, albeint with the waterhogs and moisturephiles that cling to the riparian teat. The more up you go, the wetter it gets. Straight downhill from the photo here, verdance.

Above: Turn around and look back west across the valley, and all is dark, green, wet to the top of the ridge. Below: Hemlock and Doug-fir, moss and ferns so thick you cannot even tell if there are rocks. In other words, Western Washington. Less than a mile away, and a whole different world.

I'd stumbled into Ecotone Creek. Edge-land. Glorious coupling of wet and dry. For a devotee of evolution (not to self, make T-shirt proclaiming "Jesus Evolved!" to wear at Creationist events), this is like the holy grail. Only better, because I can gather data to prove the find. Makes me want to become a biologist just to see what miracles have been selected in that valley...

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