A few weeks ago I enjoyed 5 days off, spending 4 on the road and one at home. Not yet dipping into the Cascades, I chose the north section of Mt. Baker Nat’l Forest out Hwy 542 from Bellingham. I figured it would be quieter than the lower portion of the wilderness, out hwy. 20.
Rain greeted me. Sweet, wet, drizzly, foggy rain. And it didn’t bother me a bit. It’s bone dry out here. WA state to CA is crispy, fires burn everywhere. Not sure what the statistics are. I tried to look them up but couldn’t find them. Funny, look for a cat video and there are millions. Ask Google what the Port Townsend WA year to date precipitation figure is and nada.
But I don’t need numbers to tell you our average 19″ per year is sorely short. There are water restrictions in place (not firm enough in my opinion) and concern for enough potable water come September.
So, rain, I reveled in it.
On arrival, I scooted to the end of the hwy to Artists Point, not sure why as I should have known it would be socked in but I still needed to go. The rain was falling sideways and I could hardly see my hand in front of my face. Obviously, no photos taken but this one I took on the way up. That was, maybe, 8 (?) miles from the top.
Retreating down, I set up camp and went for a stroll along Horseshoe Bend Trail, an easy sub-three-mile level walk along the Nooksack River. It starts across the rd. from the Douglas fir campground.
The river roared so loud I at first thought I was hearing airplanes overhead.
This photo is from farther up the river but it shows you a sampling of the lush, green, thick vegetation along the river.
Trees, dripping in moss, arch over the trail in places. Enchanting.
These pic are awful, fuzzy, I wonder if there was some condensation on the lens? Ooops.
Lichen, sculptural in form:
Stressed, tired and needing to unwind I plunked down on a rocky river bank and drifted away, letting the sounds and sights soften and blur.
It must be the glacial melt that colors the water this opaque, pale mineral green.
On the way out I stopped and had a gander at some Devils club plants. These things are gnarly!
What you don’t see in this pic is the underside of the leaves and the stems.
Look underneath and behold, one helluva defense system. Even the ribs on the leaves have spikes on them.
Growing 1-3 meters tall (I’ve seen them close to 3 meters tall) this shrub is related to ginseng. White flowers turn to scarlet berries. Inedible for humans, bears love them. Home in the PNW coastal areas, they like low, wet but somewhat drained areas. This plant still has oodles of medicinal uses.
After the walk I retired to camp, ate and plunked into a chair under a ring of cedars. They were my umbrella, keeping me and my knitting dry. It was a lovely day, a much-needed exploration.
Next post: Getting Above Treeline