into the woods, and back out again

hiking

Solstice

I’ve been out to the Deception Creek trail four times now.  The first time, we had to turn back due to time constraints.  The second time, we had to turn back because my hiking partner for the day was having knee trouble.  Third time should have been the charm, but it was snowing and we lost the trail.  Yesterday was the longest day of the year and the weather was perfect for a thirteen mile hike.

A while back, I decided that once I got past about 7 miles in total, I was about done.  I was just too tired the last mile or two to be having any fun on longer hikes.  I don’t know what made the difference yesterday, because even though my calves burned and my feet were on fire at about mile 10, I didn’t want to lay down and take a nap until we had actually made it back to the car.

I really don’t know why it’s called Deception Creek.  It definitely seems river-sized to me, but I just looked up “river” on Wikipedia and I guess there aren’t any definite rules on what qualifies a river as opposed to a creek.  In any case, this hike is definitely all about the water.

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It was frothy and glassy and plunging and noisy.  The trail crosses the creek, meanders away, then returns and crosses again at least three times on the stretch that we hiked.

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The weather was not too hot, and there weren’t many bugs, and I only got a little bit muddy.

Spring is still making its way into the Cascades, so we didn’t see many flowers… mostly trillium and dogwood flowers.  The ferns are still curled up…

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We even saw baby Devil’s club.  New leaves are edible, but I’ve never been hungry enough to try it.

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On the way, we met a nice couple who gave us a map of the area, and we saw that there is actually a network of trails connected to Deception Creek.  We’d known about the connection with the Tonga Ridge trail–which we’ve done partially on our way to Mount Sawyer to pick blueberries.  We decided, this time, to call it quits and turn back near the juncture of the two trails, but maybe next time we’ll take the spur up to Deception Lake.

I was nearly in a daze of fatigue by the time we got back to the car.  I’d had a lot of talking and a lot of scenery and a lot of walking.  We stopped on the way home for bubble tea, and when I got home, I staggered in to run myself a hot Epsom salt bath.

 

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Shady grove, my little love…

Until I started working at Starbucks, I managed to hike about once a month… sometimes more.  That eighteen months at Starbucks deprived me of a lot of hiking time, since I worked weekends and hiking weekdays was frequently impossible or too problematic to consider.  While a regular work week produces its own issues, at least it means I’m free on weekends.

Today Ms. K and I found out that Duvall has TWO roads named Cherry Creek Road, although one has a crucial “NE” at the beginning.  Both roads happen to take a steep turn off the highway, but the main differences are that one is poorly signed and leads to nothing, while the other has several clearly marked crossroads and takes one directly to a very nice trail that heads out to a very pretty waterfall.  The correct Cherry Creek Road was also the route for some kind of bicycle marathon.  Lots of bicyclists out in Duvall today.

The salmonberries are getting ripe.

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I had hoped we would see more wildflowers, and we might have been at too low an altitude and too early in the season for a lot of variety, but we did see buttercups and vergissmeinnicht:

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Buttercups are a kind of ranunculus, but I’ve only met one person who found that information as interesting as I do, or rather, who even knew what I was talking about.

The theme of the day seemed to be misdirection, because after nearly getting lost when trying to find the trail, the trail itself was primarily an old logging road which forked off several times.  In fact, toward the end (and after paying not enough attention to our directions) we almost missed the turn-off to the falls.  If only we’d noticed this:

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Well, okay, maybe that was placed after we passed the spot.  We headed right, then left, then went back, and found ourselves in a loop before figuring out which direction would take us where we wanted to go, which was here:

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Well, I thought that picture wasn’t so blurry when I took it.  The waterfall spills into a small pool, and it was possible to get down to the banks of that pool by heading to the right, but we decided to head to the left and do a little balancing on fallen trees to make it to a flat rock at the top of the falls.  We considered having lunch there, but decided that other hikers might want pictures of the waterfall, and we shouldn’t spoil the view.

K and I are both of the opinion that there is no such thing as “hiking season”.  It’s all hiking, all the time.  The important thing is to have the right clothes.  Layers are important, as are a water-proof jacket and wool socks.  As much as I enjoy the challenge of winter hiking, it was awfully nice to be out in the sunshine.  I think I got a tan.  Or maybe I just got some more freckles.

The entire walk today was about 5 miles over relatively level ground, so it wasn’t too strenuous, which is also nice sometimes.

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 Okay… also thought that picture wasn’t so blurry.  I’m still leaving it.

On the way home, I was torn between finding coffee and finding bubble tea.  However, I was completely distracted from a quest for beverages when we saw a sign advertising raw milk.  I’ve been wanting to try raw milk for ages now, so we stopped, bought a lovely half gallon of whole milk and a quart of raw blackberry honey.  SCORE.


Lower Grey Wolf River trail

I was pretty excited about today’s hike, because I’ve mostly hiked out in the Cascades and the foothills east of here.  Going out to the peninsula and the Olympics was new.  It also involved a ferry ride, which necessitated getting up early.  I’m no longer a morning person, so 5 came pretty early this morning.  I got my pack together (complete with a thermos full of coffee) almost in time for K to show up.  I’m always glad when she doesn’t have to wait more than ten minutes for me.  (Clicking on pictures makes them bigger.)

We drove down to Edmonds, boarded the ferry, and headed upstairs for some hot chocolate.

All stairwells in all ferries look just like this.

All stairwells in all ferries look just like this.

Actually, this picture is us heading back down to the truck.  Anyway.

It was a longish drive out to the trailhead, and on the way we had to wait for the Hood Canal Bridge to do its thing to let some barges through.  I got a picture of the Olympics, though, so it was worth the wait.

hood canal view

We got to the trailhead at about 9:30 and were the first people there.  Which really means I cleared the spider webs from the trail for K and everyone else who showed up after we did.

trailhead

The parking area didn’t look promising, but this turned out to be one of the prettiest hikes I’ve done in a long time.  The trail meandered through a meadow, then played peek-a-boo with the river: sometimes following the water, sometimes climbing up onto ridges just out of sight of the river.  I’ve never taken so many pictures on a hike before, and I’m only sharing a fraction of them here.

Grey Wolf River:

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A charming little stream making its way to the river:

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This picture doesn’t do it justice, but it looked just like something someone would pay to put in a very fancy garden.  The path right there had been shored up with a little rock wall, and here’s K:

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We saw lots of plants I knew:

Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Hearts

indianpaint

Indian Paintbrush

False Soloman's Seal

False Soloman’s Seal

Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair Fern

Kinnikinnik (I think)

Kinnikinnik (I think)

Devil's Club

Devil’s Club

Figured out that I like Devil’s Club because it’s prickly, but actually very delicate and grows back slowly if damaged.  Kind of like some people I know.

We also saw rhododendrons, wild roses, columbine, and a bunch of mosses.  Should have known the names of the mosses, since Herr Baumgaertner taught them to me on our hike to Twin Falls, but I could only remember the snake moss.

Saw some new plants too:

Not actually new to me, but I don't know the name of it.

Not actually new to me, but I don’t know its name.

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We also saw some wildlife!  We saw a deer on the road, but I couldn’t get a picture of her, and we saw this little guy:

Froggie!

Froggie!

We had to cross this bridge, which would have been more frightening if it had been at a height, or had anything scarier than a stream below:

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We ate lunch by the river, on a mossy boulder.  I was happy to have my thermos:

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And it was at this point that I realized that black yoga pants don’t hide mud any better than khaki hiking pants:

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My backpack made a good leg-rest.

The hike back seemed a little extra long.  I mean, maybe it was, because there was a “loop” off the main trail, which we took and which involved a lot more mud and climbing and where I was nearly mauled by a beagle.  We figure we walked 7.5 miles (about 12 kilometers).  It’s the furthest we’ve walked in quite a while, so the truck was a welcome sight at the end.  I nearly fell asleep on the way back to the ferry and at this point I’m seriously doubting my ability to walk normally for the next few days.

I think a hot bath is in order.


Cathedral Rock… almost.

L and I took a much longer drive than usual to get to our trail on Saturday.  In fact, I think it’s a testament to our friendship that we could go on such a long drive, then walk 7 miles and still have stuff to talk about on the way home… or at least, not have any awkward silences.

In any case, our trail was located over Snoqualmie pass and down a couple of very long roads.  We drove through Roslyn, which is a charming little town, and who knew it existed?  The last stretch was about 10 miles on the bumpiest gravel road I’ve ever driven.  Seriously, I’ve never had to drive so slow in fear of busting my car.

After an hour of driving, we came to a stream, which crossed the road.  As we watched, a couple of other vehicles crossed through without damage, but having ruined a car in my adolescence by driving through swiftly flowing water, I decided we weren’t taking our chances.  I parked, and we walked the rest of the way to the trail head.  Of course, first we had to get across the stream, which was very cold, and then the rest of the way down our bumpy gravel road.

We walked.  And walked.  And walked.  I had on my pedometer, which read just over 3 miles by the time we reached the trail.  We visited the surprisingly clean outhouse, then crossed a little bridge.  A half mile into the woods and we found another creek.  Well, this was one fording too many, and we’d already walked quite a way, so we turned back and decided maybe we’ll come back later in the summer, when the water levels have gone down a bit.

It was a little anti-climactic, and I don’t like being disappointed.  Not only is it an unpleasant emotion, but I’m not much for complaining or lamenting that things haven’t gone the way I’d like.  There are two ways I deal with disappointment.  The first is to look for new answers or alternative directions.  The second is to find something positive to take away from every experience.

So… this hike wasn’t what I would have liked it to be, but I’m grateful for the time I spent with L.  She’s a good friend, much better than I think I deserve and we’ve been friends for a long, long time.  I’ve had a lot of transition in my life: all the times we’ve moved from one house to another, all the jobs I’ve had… a lot of people that have come and gone.  I’m glad for a friend who has been around for so long, and stuck by me, even when I wasn’t always such a great friend in return.  She was there when I got back together with the Man; she was my maid of honor; she was there when both my kids were born.

So?  There’s my positive thing.  It was a sunny day and a pleasantly long walk with a good friend.  And that’s enough.


swirling, twirling, misting

Today began as one of those days that if I couldn’t have laughed, I would’ve cried.

We got up bright and early and prepared to head out for a hike with some friends from church.  We ate breakfast, packed lunch, got dressed and actually arrived at our meeting place on time.  All was well and good until we were halfway to Anacortes, and then the Boy threw up.

My sister reads my blog, so I’ll spare you the gory details.

The other car in our party went on ahead, which was probably good for the Boy, who didn’t need anymore witnesses than necessary.  We decided to try to catch up with them, so K could ride on with them while I took the Boy home, but  no dice.  They’d already gotten far enough along that catching up with them would have taken more time than we liked, and the Boy was looking pretty pale in the back seat.  We drove back toward home, and he threw up again.  We stopped to pick up more cleaning supplies, since we’d used up all of our bags in the previous clean-up.

Incidentally, K handled the barfing really well.  I mean, what are you going to do?  But she didn’t gross out at all, which I appreciated.  I was just really glad we were in my car, since she usually drives.

We decided to have a “girls hike” after taking the Boy home, which is how we ended up at Twin Falls.  The trails begins by following along this river:

It climbs up, and then down, and then up again.  We saw salmon-berries ripening along the trail and we inspected ferns to see if we could find any that might be edible, noting the many varieties.  The Girl chatted with K most of the way, taking up my usual self-appointed task of keeping K entertained.  *ahem*  Actually, it was really cute.  She likes to rave about how peaceful the woods are (completely missing the irony) and she finds places for bunnies to live under roots and rocks.  Everything is amazing to her, except for when it’s “impressive”.   She was very brave with some of the dogs we saw along the trail.

It’s only about a mile to the lower falls:

The upper falls can be seen from a bridge over the river, a half mile up from this lookout, but I neglected to take pictures there.  Apparently.

We stopped for lunch, where a very friendly and brave chipmunk skittered around us for a few minutes, hoping for a handout.  We disappointed him, so he went away.

The trip back down was much as the trip up.  Back in the truck, K asked, did I mind if we stopped at Fall City to see the falls there?  I didn’t mind at all, so we took a little detour through Fall City.  We wound up at Snoqualmie falls… not sure if that’s the falls referenced in the name “Fall City”, but it was impressive anyway:

There was a very cool gift shop, which we strolled through, and K bought some magnets.

Much of the landscaping in the park seemed to reflect the local flora.  We saw a couple of varieties of rhododendron, some kind of currant, and roses which first attracted our attention by being very fragrant:

These were also distinctive for having rose hips on the bush, which I’ve never noticed on cultivated plants, but how much do I know about roses?  Approximately zilch.

I took a nap when I got home.  The Boy seems to be feeling much better and now it’s Doctor Who time.


up a creek

DECEPTION!!!

Okay, seriously, just having a hard time coming up with a catchy opening paragraph.  Deception Creek is a trail we visited last Fall, but due to time constraints, we didn’t hike as far that day as we would have liked.  It was a beautiful trail, so we decided to go back today.  As it turns out, there is still a lot of snow in the mountains, and we made most of our progress by following a previous hiker’s half melted footprints.  Consequently, I didn’t take many pictures.  There’s a bridge over Deception Creek, which some time I would like to cross in dry weather:

 

Up until this point, the trail was pretty clear, even with the snow.  I had on my pedometer, which also measures distance, but I think it measures distance by multiplying my stride length by how many steps I take and I don’t think it factors clambering over snow, which involves short strides, long strides, and strides that end with breaking through the crust and ending up hip deep in snow.  So, I really don’t know how far we went, but when we lost our mystery hiker’s tracks and couldn’t find the trail, we decided to turn back.

We didn’t feel ready to quit hiking, though, so we headed back to the truck, then drove on down to the Iron Goat trail.  The main trail-head was closed, so we took a little back road to pick up the trail further down.  The Iron Goat trail is almost perfectly level, due to once being a railroad track, and the old tunnels are still there.

I had trouble getting a picture that gave a good sense of the scale, and then I had light issues, so this is what we have.  Just think: this tunnel is big enough for a train to get through.  It was huge and a little creepy.  There was also this:

I think that’s the supporting wall, which keeps the forest out of the tunnel.  Again, no sense of scale, but it was enormous.

We ate lunch, and then covered a couple of miles in a pretty short amount of time.  We saw more tunnels, and admired the view over the pass, and then we found backpacks lying on the trail.  Noticing a badge on one of the backpacks, we realized that they belonged to trail maintenance people.  Not much further on was… well… an avalanche across the trail, but we saw that someone had cut some very nice steps into the snow, so we decided to continue.  About a quarter of a mile later, we found a group of mostly older men just finishing up on some task.  Another avalanche blocked the trail, but they hadn’t done anything to cross this one.  We approached a little warily, not sure how thrilled they’d be that we crossed the snow pack to get so far, but they weren’t fussed.

“Tell you what,” one quipped, “you can cross this next one too, but do us a favor and tie a 50 foot string to your hat.  That way, when you fall into the snow, we’ll be able to find your body later on.”  We talked with them a bit about the work they were doing with the Volunteers of Washington, and then walked back with them.  One gentleman, in particular, turned out to be great fun.  We had a very nice chat, and then we left him when the others stopped to cut through a tree across the trail, being a little concerned that we were making him walk too fast.

All in all, we walked 6 or 7 miles, which isn’t too shabby!  We’ll go back to Deception Creek later this year when the snow melts and see if we can’t make a real hike out of it.


Wallace Falls

I went hiking with Kinnan today and it was such a beautiful day for it.  I’d almost forgotten how nice it is to hike in the not-rain.

We headed out to Wallace Falls at 8:30 and had an easy drive to the trail.  We ended up being really glad that we left as early as we did, because things got crowded on our way back down the trail.  Wallace Falls is a very popular hike, due to being relatively close to town and having some pretty extraordinary waterfalls.  The trail itself is quite scenic, especially as Spring is here and everything is growing again and it’s still early  in the year and cool enough that there weren’t bugs to contend with.

There’s something to be said here about expectations.  After hearing and reading so much about Wallace Falls, I was surprised at how pretty it was.  It was easier than I was expecting too, so I had the double pleasure of not killing myself on the climb and enjoying the scenery.

Apparently, he didn't know that falling can be deadly.