A couple weekends back Mary and I went stomping around the Tieton foothills with the dogs. We had intended to run around the fields below Royal Columns, but were met by a “Closed for Raptor Nesting” sign when we crossed the bridge below the columns. So we headed a little farther down Highway 12 to “The Cave.” Mary and I followed the switchbacks up the hillside while the dogs followed the path of whatever scent they happened to be sniffing. Bounding over boulders and running eight steps for our one.
A little winter nip still in the air (not unpleasant), but also plenty of Spring smells percolating up from the sun-warmed terrain. We hiked along the base of the cliffs, then circled up and around, topping out on the flatter plateau above. A herd of deer watched us warily from a distance, but the dogs didn’t give chase.
And then the tick infestation began. “The great feast has begun!” they announced to their friends. “Tell everybody!” We found a couple on Trammell (plucked and flicked airborne into the February sky) and then a couple on Nora and then a couple more on Trammell until we decided, “Well, I guess that’s enough Lyme disease for one day,” and off we headed back to the car. We picked up a few more on the way down (see the picture above as Mary inspects Trammell) and Mary vowed never to hike anywhere with me ever again. Even though this was completely not my fault, those little fellas should’ve been frozen comatose.
A couple days later we discovered an engorged pea-sized tick hanging sluggishly off of Trammell’s neck. And Mary called me at work the day after that saying she’d woken up to find a tick crawling around the bed. I think we’re clear now though. No tick sightings in awhile.