Never thinking it would be so soon, in yesterday's post, I predicted more heat-escaping trips up Pack River.
With no Mariners game, a hot house and with a need to accomplish something besides sitting around trying to stay cool, I asked Bill if we could head up Caribou Creek and look for huckleberries.
No dogs this time. Dogs can distract a good huckleberry picking session; plus, they tend to rob the bushes once they get their first taste of the summer's purple gold.
I washed a couple of white gallon buckets, grabbed some bottles of water and the camera, and off we went.
Caribou Creek Road was the closest offshoot on the Pack River Road, so if we found a patch, maybe we'd bring back enough berries for another bedtime milk shake.
We drove to an area where clearcuts give a wide-open open view. I expected to see berries there, but every other kind of foliage, including fireweed in bloom, took up the space.
Once we crossed the bridge over Caribou Creek, I started wondering if this was gonna be an empty run. Nonetheless, it had gotten us out of the house. Plus, the outside air was definitely cooler.
A dark, foreboding sense filled the air too, as we continued to drive. Finally, we stopped at a place where the road forks. Bill seemed to smell those huckleberries because in no time he was up on a hillside picking.
"Ya look for areas where white pine is growing or supposed to be," he explained. Until that moment, I never realized that a forester's knowledge is key to finding a good huckleberry patch.
Guess it's good to have him along for future searches.
We picked for about half an hour, finding some bushes loaded with berries, others empty. A recent washdown from earlier rains meant clean berries and very little extra residue in our buckets.
Suddenly, Bill said, "Listen."
The stillness and silence of our surroundings gave way to a faint but growing sound of steady wind. Trees started to sway. Bill headed for the pickup.
The memory of his and Willie's escape during a Pack River fishing excursion when a sudden, violent wind storm struck last summer likely persuaded him that it was a good time to head on down the mountain.
Between the two of us, we had picked a quarter gallon of berries, surely enough for those promised milkshakes.
I took a few photos of the swaying trees. A 4-wheeler from further up the mountain came flying past us during that interlude.
On our way down, Bill turned off on the road that goes to the Caribou Lodge. We started seeing limbs strewn on the road and in less than a mile, we had to turn around, thanks to a huge tree that had just fallen across the road.
Before getting back to the main road, we saw lightning strikes, followed by multiple and loud claps of thunder. The storm was pressing in.
By the time we reached the river near the old Edna and Buck's, there was plenty of action up in the mountains to our north. Lightning strikes and thunder claps were putting on quite a show.
A couple stood alongside the road, watching the storm-induced drama, which was a safe distance off.
Further down, we encountered the tree, pictured above, blocking all but a small space on the main road.
The wind had definitely been blowing along the lower section of road, and I'm sure some of the residents were a bit worried about a repeat of last summer's series of wild wind storms.
Still, this was tame compared to any of those. By the time we reached HWY 95, I was ready to sing the "Hallelujah" chorus as rain began to splatter our wind shield.
"Maybe it's raining at home," I said. "Maybe our fields won't dry up quite so soon."
The moisture was definitely an unexpected gift, as was the cooler air, even down in the valley.
And, the best part was yet to come: those huckleberry shakes, which turned out to be well worth the effort.
I even had a few berries leftover. They're in the freezer.
Last night's rain shower and storm were welcome respites from the intense heat.
Bill and I enjoyed every minute of our experience, right down to the last swallow of fresh Pack River Huckleberry shakes while watching a "American Pickers."