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)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Rattlesnake Ledge

It rained heavily today. It was a good day for curling up with a book. I started the wood stove. But then the rain stopped and the sun came out. A beautiful fall day calling me outside. Getting out after a rain is such a great way to explore nature. Things are fresh and bright. My friend insists it's a great time to see animals. She saw a family of weasels right after a rain.

I wanted a hike but it was late, so I went to a favorite I haven't been to in a while. Rattlesnake Ledge is entirely too popular and there is a reason, it has such amazing views and it's a short hike. I had about 2 hours before dusk but the sun was already partly behind the the mountain. As you walk around Rattlesnake Lake to get to the trailhead, the Ledge abrubtly peaks out at you. Then you get to the back of the lake and you go through an immediate transition. I love walking in to the dark forest, it feels like entering into a magical, mythical world.

Heading up I was enchanted by the foilage. The bright leaves of the Salal kept capturing my attention. New fresh green , almost a mint color, contrasting with the usual dark. I also saw the longest Trailing Blackberry vine I have ever seen. It had to be 15ft long. It seemed to be making a voyage, winding down the bank and moving across the path. All the plants leaves looked clean, fresh and vibarant. Many still had water drops on the surface or hanging from the tip.

I reached a point halfway up the ledge hike where you suddenly have a view. It's a point where some realize that the very steep climb on this short 2 mile hike is too much and they turn around. I had no inentions of turning around but I had to stop and take in the beauty. With the sun already so low, the lighting was amazing. I have always loved the sudden shine of bright sun, slipping through the dark forest and highlighting a tree. The tree takes on a glow and presence, suddenly an individual. This held all that beauty and even greater power as the background was the forest 500ft below.

The brightness marks the 1/2 point

Just before you get to the top, you enter a very dark piece of forest. It makes the arrival at the top even more stunning. I took a lot of pictures. I think I'll make a separate entry, just with Ledge-top photos. At the top I watched the light change and the clouds dance. Like always, I marveled at the geology. I have so much to learn! I did explain to some other hikers the general landscape and how Rattlesnake Lake (now 1,000 feet below) formed. I guess I was in a sharing mood, I don't normally talk to people when hiking. Except of course the people who fall in love with Coal. That always happens :) The sun was nearly down and I didn't have my flashlight. I've done that once, come down off a Rattlesnake Ledge after dusk. Without Coal to guide me I would have needed to spend the night up there. That was on the old trail that was much more treacherous and there were spots that I scooted down on my butt. Even with the better trail, I really felt no need to repeat that experience, so Coal and I headed down.

Coal loves the smells on Rattlesnake Ledge

It was getting dark and the plants had faded to the backgroud but finally the animals were out. Robins were making there evening proclamation. Juncos flitted along the trail. I've noticed before that they seem to out and especially active when most birds are bedding down for the night. A Douglas Squirrel, that was either very young or just foolish walked along the ground. I thought it a bit odd when he didn't head up a tree when I drew near but when Coal walked close and he still didn't run I was startled. Coal couldn't resist any more and was ready to give chase (I had a hold of him) and the squirrel finally darted up the tree, chirruping furiously. A few switchbacks down a Cottontail Rabbit hopped by! We were way up the trail in heavy forest. I see them all the time by the lake, but I can't figure out what that guy was doing up there. The rest of the trip down was uneventful except for the beautiful red clouds peaking through the forest. We ended with rabbits hopping about the parking lot, which is where I expect to see them (not specically the parking lot but in the open and brushy areas around Rattlesnake Lake).


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