OUTDOORS — See and be seen at Lake Creek Trailhead

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Danny and Nora check out flowers and rocks from a roadside vantage point.

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Danny Hermann takes a shot of his grandfather, Don Davis, from a meadow at the Lake Creek Trailhead.

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Danny Hermann recounts an apparently harrowing experience on the Lake Creek Trailhead.

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Don and Nora take a breather on the trail.

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A butterfly rests near the trail.

My grandson Danny Hermann has a new Nikon camera.

He left his labors at cool University of Oregon environs a few days ago for a short visit with family and friends in the wilting Walla Walla valley.

One day, to cool off and to test the Nikon on birds, animals, flowers and things, Danny, Nora the Schnauzer and I went to the shady high country.

We yakked it up on the way, with Danny sharing episodes from Eugene and me countering with war stories from the long-long-long ago.

Danny, 25 and a Wa-Hi graduate, has been a Duck long enough to accumulate senior-level credits, he said with a wry smile.

Yet, me may be there a while longer. As a philosophy major, he's in the midst of a deep study of Taoism and the Chinese language.

In Chinese, his name translates into Legsai, he said.

Yet, we barely touched on major philosophical issues.

Danny also knows computer programing, and he can set up a new cell phone for the older folks in minutes.

And, of course, he recalled memories of growing up in Blue Mountain Country.

So, we filled the air with stories and laughter.

We drove along Summit Road to Forest Road 3150 and turned right to Lake Creek Trail, No. 3079.

Danny wore knee-length shorts and sandals, but he assured me they would be OK on the trail.

Soft ground, with pine needles, twigs and leaves covered the easy, meandering trail that within a half mile crosses two (seasonal) water sources for Nora.

We journeyed at a snail's pace. Nora often sat and watched us aim the cameras.

When we angled after sharp photos of flowers, I sometimes offered suggestions about camera settings.

Well, I offered guesses that could work, perhaps.

Anyway, Danny and I worked hard to get good shots of many flowers, of one tiny brown bird, of a blue butterfly and of a white moth.

Once, as we peered deep into the shady woods, a human-like figure appeared to be watching us from between two distant trees.

With lenses we could distinguish the shape of a head and a torso in silhouette.

"That could be Sasquatch," Danny said.

I agreed, but it didn't move.

We did, however.

At an open space, a humming bird zoomed close, hovered, climbed high and zoomed away.

We aimed lenses but neither of us focused on the bird.

From what I could tell from peering into Danny's LCD window, his efforts turned out as well as mine.

Or better.

We ended up with more photos than I could count, which is one way to learn about a camera.

You can learn by doing, experts insist, especially if you can learn from your mistakes.

We continued on Lake Creek Trail through night-dark shady glens and over sun-drenched open knolls, until we crossed the Umatilla Rim Trail, No. 3080.

The trail eventually leads to the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness campground, but we didn't go that far.

At our rate of speed, that would have taken about four days. And nights.

We eventually headed back because my wife Darlene, or Granny, expected to take us out to dinner.

On the way, we passed a buck deer in velvet, near Tollgate. I turned around, drove back and turned around again. Danny got some good looks from the passenger-side window.

A few minutes later, he got good shots of a doe munching crass beside the road.

The deer photos pleased him. He would leave for Eugene the next day to be present when his friend Cindy took a big step toward her master's degree.

"She probably doesn't see too many deer in Taiwan," he said.

She may not see many lurking silhouettes of Big Foot, either. But we did.

Contact Don Davis at dondavis@wwub.com.

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