The Rogue River National Recreation Trail bursts in early May with color at every step: yellow irises veined with crimson, blue delphiniums, fiery orange paintbrush. We were on day one, hour one, of a four-day, 40-mile, lodge-to-lodge hike when my husband Charlie ― new to the trail ― shouted, "Hey, wow! Look!" Before I could turn, I had an inkling of what it was. Vanishing into the trailside scree was a tiny, slender, electric-blue lizard tail. "That," I said, with the authority of an old Rogue hand, "was a Western blue-tailed skink."
"A skink?" he asked, incredulous.
"Yep." This is someone who can forget his own children's names, so I spelled it out: "S-k-i-n-k."
The day was everything we'd hoped for: cloudy but warm ― perfect for hiking. Side creeks gushed with spring runoff. We had settled into a meditative silence, and by mile 5, I was deep into my own musing ― probably planning the next hike ― when I found out what Charlie had been silently chewing over.
"Stink? No, no," he said quickly, then with a satisfied smile, "Skink!" Find out about hiking the Rogue River National Recreation Trail at www.or.blm.gov/rogueriver or 541/618-2200.