On June 25, Mr. D and I decided to go over to Cougar Mountain and do a short (2-3 hours) hike, starting out on the Red Town Trail. We did this hike almost exactly a year earlier; it was the first of my weekly hikes last summer. But several things were different this year, starting with this scene at the trailhead:
We had a lot of rain and some fairly heavy winds in the three days before this hike, and the combination of super-saturated ground and gusty winds uprooted these alders.
The second different thing was fun: Mr. D took me on a short loop that I had never been on before, and I saw this pretty scene:
Those are salmonberries on the bush hanging over the stream, and while these particular berries were out of our reach, there were plenty more along the trail to pick and eat. Salmonberries have a wonderful tangy flavor with just a hint of sweetness. They are also very refreshing, and loaded with vitamin C, too.
Once back on the main trail, we saw some other intriguing scenes—a wild rose in bloom, an old gnarled tree, and a family of mushrooms.
As the sun came out and the temperature rose, and as we climbed higher on the trail, we began to notice more and more little creepy-crawly creatures alongside the trail. Here they are, in the biggest congregation that we saw on the whole hike:
Ewww, yucky! Cougar Mountain was experiencing a major caterpillar infestation, and we were in the midst of it. As we headed down the trail, we kept finding them on our shoe tops, crawling up our pants legs, and one even landed in my hair. A runner who ran past asked us as he went by, "Can you hear those caterpillars chewing?" And, yes, indeed we could.