A Northwest Hike to Twin Falls

I follow the trail to Twin Falls along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River, leaving Bob behind to fish. There are enough hikers on the trail for me to feel safe hiking alone and few enough to provide me with the solitude I need. I revel in having time in the woods, enjoying the nuanced shades of green, the ferns, the Doug-firs, and moss covered maples.

The river flows nearby the trailhead and I find hidden pools where some are brave enough to swim (not me.)

Half way to the falls I stop to rest and take in the view,

then continue on, following the switchbacks upward.

Up, up, up I go and as I near the falls, I’m greeted by a group of happy campers, who assure me I’m almost there and high five my efforts.  I’m cheered by the friendly youngsters.

Around the corner I arrive at the bridge and have it all to myself.  It’s high above the falls and makes me woozy looking down so I don’t linger long.  It’s the journey anyway, not the destination.

Going down is easier and I encourage the tired ones coming up.  Yes, it’s worth it, I say.  You are almost there.

At the bottom again I find out Bob has caught two trout.

We both leave content.

~ Susanne

A Fruitful Summer Day in the Garden

Endless sunny days and so far I have worked very little in the garden.  Things grow and produce despite my neglect, but still it’s time for some maintenance.  Even an hour or two will accomplish a lot.

First, the Strawberries

Although I’ve been harvesting them for a month I still see a few stragglers remaining.  I always imagine they are anxiously waiting for me to come pick them, afraid of being left behind.

“I’m here, ” they call out.  “Don’t forget me.  I’m juicy and red.  Look just under the leaves and you will see me.”

I did and found many more than I expected.

Next up, the weeds

Once in the garden I see more work to be done and tackle the most glaring and obvious: the tallest of the weeds to be pulled, the volunteers to be moved or disposed of, the empty spots to be filled in.  The dahlias I planted last year didn’t come up again so I pulled the weeds that had taken their place.  This opened up a spot for a zealous rose and traveling lavender, both of which had sprung up unbidden nearby.  They earned it!

The Pollinators

Some of the work is best left to others, the pollinators for instance.  The bees busily worked the lavender like those on a mission but still left something behind for the moth.

The blooming and the ripening

I wander about the garden, stopping here and there to admire the flowers

and anticipate the promise to come; the ripening of these tomatoes for instance,

and biting down on one of these apples in the fall, the first I have ever grown.

And don’t forget to pet the cat

And what’s time spent in the garden without a furry friend?  Invariably I am joined by one or the other of my two cats who follows along and begs my attention.  I always oblige. Today it was the handsome Tiger.

A cool drink and it’s time to go.

A day well spent in the garden.

~ Susanne

The Many Faces of Mt Rainier, or 4th of July Part 2

In the last post I told you of our 4th of July adventure at Mt Rainier National Park, which included a ridge hike at Sunrise and a forest hike through the Grove of the Patriarchs on the Ohanapecosh River.   I will complete the story with the second half of our day and a much shorter but lovely walk at Box Canyon and a stop by one of the most famous views of the Mountain at Reflection Lakes.

After our hike at the Grove, we continued south and west on the Stevens Canyon Road.  Neither of us can remember taking this way before so we enjoyed fresh and new vistas of Mt Rainier.  Oh yes we did!

Box Canyon

Here we stopped to walk the short trail to view the deep canyon carved by the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz River. The area also reveals what is left behind when a glacier retreats:  polished slabs of rock where lichens and mosses slowly take root, eventually decomposing into soil to support new forest.    Brilliant blue delphiniums also blanketed the area.

It’s hard to realize the depth here, but the rushing water is 180 feet below.

Continuing on the Stevens Canyon road, we were led to the beautiful sub alpine Reflection Lake, which proved true to its name.

After a full day, we exited through Longmire on the southwest side of the mountain, passed through small towns on our way home watching the firework displays around us, and eventually settled for our final picture of Mt. Rainier under sunset hues.

Home again, home again.

~ Susanne

Sunrise at Mt Rainier

Sunrise at Mt. Rainier but no need to get up early for I speak of the Sunrise side of the Mountain and not the time of day!  I hope you are not tired of Mt Rainier but the 4th of July proved a perfect time to visit again while others swarmed more local parks below for firework displays. This may have been one of our best trips ever, as we covered more of the Park in a single day, enjoying 3 short but amazing hikes and incredible views of the mountain from all sides.

Normally we take the southwest entrance at Longmire into the National Park as it’s open year round. But this time we entered on the northeast side at the White River entrance headed for Sunrise, and it turns out, many new vistas!

We got our first surprise at an overlook where we had great views of the lesser known, but equally beautiful Mt. Adams.  The poor thing came up short as the second highest mountain in the state at 12,281 feet and so lives in the shadow of its more famous neighbor. It’s not easy being number 2.  Still isn’t it a beauty?

Sunrise

We arrived at the Sunrise Visitor Center at 6,400 feet, the highest point in the Park reachable by car. Here we found close up views of Emmons Glacier, the largest American glacier outside of Alaska, and source of the White River.

Of the many hikes available in the area we chose the 2 mile Silver Forest Trail, with continuous views of the mountain and meadows full of wildflowers, all under brilliant sunshine.  It didn’t seem fair to get so much for so little effort!

After lunch we headed down towards Stevens Canyon and the Grove of the Patriarchs for an easy hike through old growth forest.   The trail took us along the Ohanapecosh River and across a suspension bridge (one at a time, according to the sign.)

After a short walk on the other side, we were in an island of ancient Western red-cedar, Douglas-fir, and Western hemlock, some of them, a thousand years old.  We walked quietly among these giants, marveling at their size and beauty.

After leaving the trail, we continued on Stevens Canyon Road, stopping by Box Canyon and beautiful Reflection Lakes.  But this is running long so I will save that for Part 2 of my 4th of July Rainier adventures.

See you soon.

~  Susanne

Green over Blue in the Pacific Northwest

A Saturday and I woke up feeling kind of blue.  Needed some green for the cure and so we hit the road heading east looking for it.  After thirty minutes or so, traffic slowed and cars lined the road on the approach to Rattlesnake Lake.  Oh!  It’s a Saturday in summer and everyone is out.  Further up the road we find the Cedar River Watershed Education Center nestled on the shores of the lake.  No crowds here and we enjoy great views of Rattlesnake Ledge above, in relative quiet and safely on the ground,

rather than with the hoards of brave hikers perched precariously at the top.

A nice stop but on we go to the nearby and lesser traveled Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie where Bob knows the best places to hike and cast his fly rod into the river.

We arrive at our destination and enjoy a short walk through the woods to the footbridge.

On the other side, Bob finds a perfect spot to cast his line and has the river all to himself.

I walk the trail nearby, enjoying the beauty of the river and mountains and every green thing. Happy.

The great thing about carrying a camera is you look more closely at the world around you and see things you never noticed before; like this tiny starry plant (or is it lichen or moss?) growing everywhere on the side of the trail, so delicate yet hardy at the same time, and in various shades of green.

I must have passed it by many times over the years, but today I saw it. Touched it. Marveled at it.  A good day.

~  Susanne

A Halt to the Work at the Tiffany Park Woods

Too little too late.  The beautiful Tiffany Park Woods are nearly gone, the birds and wildlife already evicted, the native flora disappeared. Still, I was heartened to know someone is paying attention to the promises made by the developer when they obtained the permit to raze these woods and replace them with 97 houses.   According to a story in today’s Renton Reporter, “a stop work order was issued after inspectors found two protected trees were removed from the site.”  I wondered why all had gone quiet.

“In order to lift the stop order, the developers will have to meet conditions set upon by the city, including paying a fine and replacing the two removed trees with 12 other trees. The city will decide on the types and locations of the trees at a later date. In addition, if the developers remove other protected trees once the stop work order is lifted, the city will revoke their permit and cease all construction.”  ~  Renton Reporter 6/28/17

There is some justice after all.

I visited the Woods earlier this spring before the work began to document their beauty.

For the last few weeks I have also documented their destruction, which has been far more difficult to observe than I had imagined.

I watched a panicked red-headed woodpecker fly to a large Douglas Fir in my yard (to take up residence I hope) after the large trees around him came down.  And I have never seen a sadder looking deer than this one recently taking refuge in a tiny patch of remaining woods as trees were felled nearby.  I hope he made it safely to a new home.

For several years, friends of the Tiffany Park Woods fought against this project and lost.  What they won were concessions from the builder including a tree retention plan as conditions for the permit. The work stoppage may only be temporary, but if it results in the saving of a few more trees, then it is worth it.  I’m glad the developer is being held accountable for the terms that were agreed upon.

~ Susanne

Soos Creek Botanical Garden

After the rain showers this week,  I visited the lovely Soos Creek Botanical Garden today.  It was a rather spontaneous decision, made while drinking my latte at the Starbucks next to the gym where I was supposedly headed next.  But the rain had stopped.  Fresh air and a walk would be better than the treadmill, wouldn’t it?  Of course it would!   And I’d only been to the Soos Creek Garden once before, even though it’s only a thirty minute drive down the road. Time for another visit.

A few volunteers were the only ones I saw as I walked through the Carlmas Long Borders promenade, the centerpiece of the garden.  The grass was still wet and the flowers fresh with raindrops from the day before.  Beautiful color exploded on each side.

Afterwards I wandered on paths through native woods, including a cedar grove and alder grove, and made my way down to the creek.

I headed back up to where I started, to the top of the expansive lawn where the Schaefer Pond Garden was peaceful and serene.

Soos Creek Botanical Garden is 22 acres of garden and woodlands, exactly the size of the Tiffany Park Woods that are currently being destroyed in my neighborhood. I guess it’s some consolation to know I can visit the lovely Botanical Garden for a safe and scenic walk in the woods.

Before leaving, I bought some plants, dropping my money in the donation box, and went home to find a place for them in my yard.

Much better than the gym I have to admit.

~  Susanne