Under the Open Sky: Rain Plus Wind Equals Trouble

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle

There isn’t much in my fishing report this week because there isn’t much to report. It’s as simple as that.

Those that are finding success in the rivers and lakes are having to work hard, long hours and fight wind and rain and chill in order to bring home something — anything — for supper.

You may have heard about the angler from Bonney Lake who, while fishing beneath the clay banks downriver from the Blue Creek boat launch on the Cowlitz, was swept into the river by a mudslide.

The incident happened on Sunday in the late afternoon.

The steelhead angler may have lost his gear, his cell phone, car keys and whatever else he had carried to river, but at least he was able to walk away with his life.

He was pulled out of the water and hauled up into a boat by anglers working the water nearby.

I talked to one eye witness, Chris Martos of Auburn, who was in one of the four boats trolling the area when the wall of mud came down.

“He lost his gear, his tackle, everything was under about 15 feet of mud,” Martos said. “Afterwards my buddies and I sat and talked with him for a while back at the launch. He was pretty shook up.”

I’d imagine so.

That Bonney Lake angler was lucky there were any boats in the water to rescue him. I’ve fished the area lately (although not under the clay banks, not this time of year, no how, no way), and even on a beautiful Saturday afternoon I didn’t see but a single boat all day.

But on a late Sunday afternoon, in the wind and rain? He was lucky anyone was around to see him. That guy must have had an angel in his pocket.

But really, he shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

As my fishing buddy Wes Cooper said yesterday, “I like fish and I like fishing, but not enough to risk my life for it.”

One day last month, Coop and I had watched a man slide down the hill near where the mudslide happened on Sunday. He looked like a river otter, as he slid down the goat trail and hit the water belly first.

It was funny … but at the same time it wasn’t funny at all.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I want to remind you to be safe. Rain plus wind plus frigid temperatures equals trouble. Keep alert, stay aware of your surroundings while you are out in the wilds.

I appreciate you, I value you, and I don’t want to lose a single one of you.

Be careful as you wade in fast water. Don’t stand below unstable hills and fish. Keep on the trails while skiing. Be smart, be safe.

GBBC Counts

Some of you may get tired of hearing me tweet and twitter on and on (and on) about birds, but I can’t help it. I get all wrapped up and excited about what I see, I just can’t help but share it with you.

This last weekend I spent parts of four days watching and counting birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count.

I didn’t participate last year, I only wrote about it.

Now I know — I missed out on a lot of fun.

This year I learned a lot of new and interesting facts about the birds at my feeder and in the woods behind me. (Did you know that Dark-eyed Junco females don’t let the male juncos help build their nests? Even when the male junco offers materials and advice, the female rejects his help.)

I also came up with a lot of new questions. I look forward to seeing if I can come up with some answers. (Where are the White-crowned Sparrows this year? Is that a Song Sparrow or a Fox Sparrow?.)

Spending time, in silence, alone, just watching something, watching anything in nature — the river, the waves, birds, deer, leaves blowing in the wind, moss growing on wooden fence post — that’s time you can use to connect. To connect to yourself, to the community around you, to nature herself.

That’s valuable, happy, growing time.

I asked my neighbor and fellow Cinebar counter, Darlene Sybert, what she enjoys about the GBBC.

She said, “It if weren’t for the GBBC, I might not have been watching so closely at that time of day. I would have missed the unusual combination of Pine Siskins, Evening Grosbeaks, and Varied Thrush alongside the usual jays, sparrows, towhees and chickadees.”

I agree.

If I hadn’t been watching carefully, I wouldn’t have seen what was there. And what was there was wonderful.

Check out The (Almost) Daily Bird blog to see the birds I counted over the weekend.

Happy birding, stay safe, and let me know if you find a place where the fish are biting. I miss fish!

This year I learned a lot of new and interesting facts about the birds at my feeder and in the woods behind me. (Did you know that Dark-eyed Junco females don’t let the male juncos help build their nests? Even when the male junco offers materials and advice, the female rejects his help.)

I also came up with a lot of new questions. I look forward to seeing if I can come up with some answers. (Where are the White-crowned Sparrows this year? Is that a Song Sparrow or a Fox Sparrow?.)

Spending time, in silence, alone, just watching something, watching anything in nature — the river, the waves, birds, deer, leaves blowing in the wind, moss growing on wooden fence post — that’s time you can use to connect. To connect to yourself, to the community around you, to nature herself.

That’s valuable, happy, growing time.

I asked my neighbor and fellow Cinebar counter, Darlene Sybert, what she enjoys about the GBBC.

She said, “It if weren’t for the GBBC, I might not have been watching so closely at that time of day. I would have missed the unusual combination of Pine Siskins, Evening Grosbeaks, and Varied Thrush alongside the usual jays, sparrows, towhees and chickadees.”

I agree.

If I hadn’t been watching carefully, I wouldn’t have seen what was there. And what was there was wonderful.

Check out The (Almost) Daily Bird blog to see the birds I counted over the weekend.

Happy birding, stay safe, and let me know if you find a place where the fish are biting. I miss fish!

•••

Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer and Outdoors enthusiast who lives in Cinebar.  Visit her photography blog, The (Almost) Daily Bird (blogs.chronline.com/dailybird), follow her on Twitter (ChronKim) or on facebook (Kimberly Mason — The Chronicle). Contact her at kim@almostdailynews.com, text or call 269-5017.