OUTDOORS - Finally, a Frog Lake 'Brruuuupppp!'

A frog may have actually been heard on a hike to its namesake.

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High basalt bluffs allow for panoramic views in the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.

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A bird has left its mark on a Crab Creek Trail marker.

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An informational sign shows water at Frog Lake.

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A horned lark poses on rocks in the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.

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Nora the Schnauzer pauses on steps along Crab Creek Trail.

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Two cans of spaghetti sit on a rock in the refuge.

I heard a frog croak at Frog Lake a few days ago.

"Bruuup! Brrruuuppp!"

Not very loud.

Perhaps a small frog, or a sleepy one.

Nevertheless, a frog is a frog.

That's a first for me, actually, since I've never seen any water at Frog Lake.

Or any frogs.

I'd never heard one before, either.

Well, I won't complain because I may not have explored far enough into the weeds.

So, spending two or three hours (or longer) on an easy walk to a lake that may not exist is just another stroll in the park, especially if you hear a frog's "brruuupppp."

Which I did.

And Nora the Schnauzer did. Although she didn't answer when I said, "Did you hear that?"

Don't some frogs hibernate, or whatever, in the mud during long droughts?

Well, it's a "whatever," according to Google: "During extensive periods of heat or drought, frogs can enter a period of dormancy similar to hibernation called ‘estivation.'"

It's amazing what a person can learn with a Google.

And an open mind.

Anyway, my wife, Darlene, Nora and I recently toured the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge between Sullivan Dam and Othello. Nora and I hiked to Frog Lake while Darlene read (napped?) in the car.

We had parked at the northern Crab Creek trailhead and walked almost a mile to the Frog Lake and the Marsh Loop trailheads. Then, we had another three-mile round-trip hike to the lake.

It's an easy uphill walk with panoramic views of the Crab Creek flat and the surrounding basalt mesas.

Then from Frog Lake, if you can tear yourself away from the serenading frog ("Brrruuuppp!"), it's another 1.3 miles up and around a mesa-loop trail.

How clear is that?

So, Nora and I turned a brief stroll into a three-plus-hour, five-and-a-half-mile trek. Luckily I carried water, along with two cameras, one with a zoom lens and one with a wide angle lens.

We saw one group of men, women and children, several birds (including a horned lark on a rock), colorful informative sign posts (one with a mark left by a bird) and extensive sagebrush steppe scenery.

Later in the spring, wild flowers will be plentiful, including prairie star, balsam root and prickly pear cactus.

Rattlesnakes also inhabit the area, but I've never seen one in the winter or early spring.

In late spring and summer, the temperature in the refuge often passes 100 degrees.

From the upper mesa edge, looking southeast (toward Othello), Nora's ears flapped as she raced back and forth. I looked to see what excited her. A handsome buck mule deer trotted away from the base of the butte.

It had a full rack and soon disappeared among the sage, and Nora soon moved on to other interests.

The hustling return trip to the car took 78 minutes, with only a couple stops to read signs or take photos.

From there we turned south on the road to Othello, about 10 miles away.

In a mile we reached the Frog Lake/Marsh Loop parking area on the right.

"I guess we could've parked here and cut about an hour off of our hike," I mumbled.

Neither Darlene nor Nora said anything. I didn't expect a comment from Nora. But I noticed the silence.

Oh, never mind. Well, heck. I decided to spring for burgers in Othello.

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