Simple Gifts

I believe I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world; the Snoqualmie Valley. I get to see amazing things everyday. It's time to celebrate that. (You can view pictures in larger format by clicking on them)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Commonwealth Basin hike, on the PCT

It was my only day off. I had chores, but it was also one of those amazing sunny autumn days. So midway through the morning I changed my plans from responsibilities to adventures.

I headed up the Pacific Crest Trail going north from I-90. My goal was the Commonwealth Basin. The problem with the PCT trail near Snoqualmie Pass is that you can hear I-90 and it can be pretty crowded. But since it was a Monday in late September I knew I was safe from crowds. The solution to the noise was simple enough, I brought my ancient, taped together walkman. I knew once I got away from the road noise I could listen to the sounds of nature, but to begin with Crosby, Stills and Nash would suffice.

Autumn color, looking towards Snoqualmie Pass

The trail goes through beautiful old growth forest. The wonderful thing about old growht is there is such variety. There really is so much to seee, especially when you stop to notice the small details. There were numerous mushrooms out. I really need to learn my mushrooms, that is an area I'm woefully ignorant. Some were beautiful and many had already been chewed by hungry rodents. Most of the trees were evergreen but I got occaisional veiws of distant slopes with autumn colors and every once in a while I would walk into a slide area with small Vine Maples just starting to change colors. There were also red berries on several plants. I don't think I've ever noticed just how beautiful the berries are on the False Soloman's Seal.

False Solomon's Seal Berries

I had hiked close to 2 miles when a small and obviously young Douglas Squirrel darted out no more than 2 ft in front of us. Coal, the squirrle and I were all surprised. The squirrel froze in the middle of the path. This is not the best survival strategy, hopefully this little guy will live long enough to get smarter. It was the smallest Douglas Squirrel I've ever seen and it had a large cone in his mouth. It darted back into the woods then turned around and came onto the path and stopped 2 ft in front of us again. It was so close that my wonderful mutt had no intentions of chasing it (Coal might actually catch the squirrel which he finds frightening not fun). Finally the squirrel darted into the woods and then crossed the path further ahead. He stopped on a log and somehow managed to chirp at us with the cone still in his mouth. For all the squirrel's confusion and proximatey, the only pictures I got were blurred pictures of darkness.

Pikas are such fun!

After this adventure I came around a bend in the trail. It's a magical moment. The sound of I-90 fades as you move from dark forest into an open talus slope. The sun is warm and you hear the sound of a river far below and closer by the whistles of Pika. And you truly are in a basin. Mountains surround you! I kept stumbling because the trail was all rock (of course!) and I was too busy looking around. I did get to watch one Pika for a while. I love watching them move. They are so quick for the squat little body. This guy seemed content to watch Coal and I from a safe distance before trundling off.

Some of the trees twisted
in amazing ways

I ended my hike at Commonwealth creek. It's not the end of the trail, but I didn't have enough time to go further. Besides the beauty was stunning and there were wild blueberries to eat and sometimes the journey is taken by stopping and taking in all there is to discover (see pictures in my next entry). This journey had me really seeing the complexity of the forest.


Blogger Eliza said...

I love the fungus! I always like looking for mushrooms & seeing the different shapes & colors. Sailing in Desolation Sound (off the coast of Canada), my girlfriend & I would go ashore after a rain to find cool mushrooms. :)
Your photos are great!

9:32 AM  
Blogger Herman said...

OK, I keep thinking I need to learn my mushrooms but I've never really put effort into it. Now it's a goal!

It was quite fun to see the chewed fungus too. Some of them had perfectly rodent-teeth shaped bites.

I'm glad you liked the photos (blush)

10:05 PM  
Anonymous anna said...

It all looks amazing.
Really amazing.

3:08 PM  

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