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A Murder in the Forest

Updated: Apr 24




In the fall of 2017, Nigel; my yellow lab, and I took two weeks off and drove from Northern California to Leavenworth Washington to attend the Northwest Overland Rally. We planned on camping along the way, finding National Forest fire roads and spending a few days to get there, enjoying the beautiful Oregon / Washington scenery along the way. If you haven't been to this part of the country, it is beautiful. On one particular portion of the journey about twenty-five miles north of Ellensburg on Hwy 97 we came across a beautiful stretch of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Getting late into the day it was time to to start looking for a fire road and a place to camp for the night. Pulling off the highway into this pristine pine forest at a 3700 ft elevation we made our way east keeping our eyes out for a good camp to stake. I've always felt that "camp Scouting" is an art form. One has to have the right approach and frame of mind to find the perfect spot. Not too anxious; not too relaxed. Alert and open so that when that special spot shows up, you recognize it immediately. Kinda feel'in the vibe kinda thing. The spot sorta speaks to you and when you see it, you just know that its the right place for a memorable evening.

Well the road was easy as it made it's way to surrounding mountain side. At one point, the trail opened up to vista that highlighted an amazing rock out cropping (see picture above ) that so caught my eyes that I had to stop and memorialize the view by pic. Now I'm a Southern California kid and I spent alot of my time in the desserts of the Mojave and Baja California so the wonders of the Oregon forest was really impressing me. We kept heading out, not knowing that the trail would wrap around the backside of this amazing rock out -cropping along with a perfect campsite and vista. Fire Road 9718 started to climb steeply and soon wrapped it's self around the backside of that amazing rock monument. Voila.... a fire pit, above a rock precipice that dropped vertically seven-hundred feet to the valley floor bellow.....perfect. Nigel and I made short work of camp and dinner and quickly crawled into the back of the 4Runner for a semi-comfortable nights


sleep.

The next morning, we rose to the sound of voices. Voices going back and forth in an excited manner. Climbing out the the back of my vehicle, Nigel and I walked to the edge of our mountain side, coming across to a scene of a flock of crows gliding and lifting to the up-welling of the cliff face. They were obviously enjoying the up-draft while at the same time having a very lively

conversation of some sort. Speaking back and forth to each other in some language that I could not understanding; yet, by the energy and the feeling of the moment you could tell that they were without a doubt speaking with one another.

The next morning, we rose to the sound of voices. Voices going back and forth in an excited manner. Climbing out the the back of my truck, Nigel and I walked to the edge of our mountain side, coming across to a flock of crows gliding and lifting to the up-welling of the cliff face. They were obviously enjoying the up-draft while at the same time having a very lively conversation of some sort. Speaking back and forth to each other in some language that I could not understanding; yet, by the energy and the feeling of the moment you could tell that they were without a doubt speaking about something important.


Now, I'm not certain who came up with the name of a gathering of crows but the term "murder" seem to be a bit strong though the ambiance of their interactions; I must admit, did affect me strongly. Climbing through a small passage through the rocks we now stood over looking the valley floor and were more closely involved in this "goings - on" in the woods. I'm not really certain how long we spent sitting there watching this interaction between our forest neighbors but at a particular point, I thought it would be interesting to record their dialogue. Removing my cell phone from my pocket, I hit record and held it up to the "ruckus" of the conversation before me.


Now, I would like to say that the Northwest Overland Rally was an amazing experience and I learned alot meeting many amazing people,and that was true. However, It wasn't until I got home and started to unpack and go over some of the photos and media of my wondrous adventure that I scrolled upon the unusual recording of my camp hosts. Opening up the app, hitting play.......nothing.......nothing but a faint sound of what should have been the amazing forest "tit for tat" that I experienced....... nothing........

Time has passed and I think it as it should have been. The experience was not meant to be recorded...... I'm not sure my black feathered fellow campers would not have wanted me to record them, maybe a bit of nature stage fright, maybe "murderous" conversations are not meant to be recorded. I guess, I will just have to do with what was given and be limited to share and encourage others to walk into the woods and spend time with some newly found friends of their own; even if they are a bit murderous......out in the woods.

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