Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Weekly Hikes #4 and #5: Opposite Sides of the Same Valley

Don't worry, I'm not going to do any more of these "twofer" hikes, but these two occurred so close together in both distance and time that I decided to cover them in the same post. The valley in the title is the Snoqualmie Valley, and the two hikes in question are the west end of the Rattlesnake Mountain trail, which we hiked on May 31, and Little Mount Si, hiked on June 6.

I hiked the west end of the Rattlesnake Mountain trail a couple times last year, but this was the first time I've done it in the spring, with the accompanying new growth and seasonal bright greens.

This view is near the start of the hike. I love how the sun casts shadows of the alder trees on the trail. As we hiked further, we came upon hints of summer bounty to come.

This is a just-opened thimbleberry blossom, that will become a sweet red berry by early August.

Most of the forests in the foothills of the Cascade Range were once covered with Old Growth forest, which was, sadly, logged many years ago. You can still see evidence of those forests along many trails, and this one is no exception.

Here you can see the base of one of the giant Douglas firs that once covered these slopes, with much younger trees next to it and nearby. The stump and roots of this huge tree probably provided nourishment for the surrounding  trees when they were seedlings. Maybe, if we are lucky, these trees will someday be giants like their predecessor.

On June 6, a beautiful sunny day, we did our annual hike up Little Mount Si. Mr. D and I have been doing this hike at least once a season for almost as long as we've known each other. The hike is relatively easy, with only one steep and rocky section, the last quarter-mile before the summit. Once on the summit, there are some spectacular views of the Snoqualmie Valley and the surrounding foothills. That's Rattlesnake Mountain underneath that one little cloud. The notch on the left end is Rattlesnake Ledge.

We always take a few minutes to enjoy the view and have a snack before heading back down.

On this hike, I saw two metal markers—one is in the photo below—attached to rocks on the summit. I'm sure that they have been there before, but perhaps I'm more aware of my surroundings than I have been in the past—I'd like to think so, anyway! Wikipedia tells me that the markers are used for land surveying. You can read more about the markers here.

As you can see from these two hikes, we had some perfect late spring hiking weather. Next up is a hike that wasn't so perfect, followed by the first hike of the summer. I'll be back soon to tell you all about both of them.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Spectacular Cabled Socks

Can you believe I knit these socks? I almost can't, and yet, I did! These are my recently completed Hazel Knits mystery socks, in the Tree People pattern, designed by Heidi Nick. This is, by far, the most cabled project I've ever knit, not to mention the only mystery sock I've ever finished. It's also the first time I've ever taken apart a grafted toe, ripped and tinked back and reknit that toe for a better fit. I'm so proud of myself!

The yarn is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in the Conch colorway. I love how it is almost the exact same color as the rhododendron blossoms that were blooming outside in my garden as I was knitting: perfect serendipity!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Blue, Blue, Blue, Some Green and a Bit of Pink

Before spring is officially over—only a little over a week until summer begins—I want to share a spring adventure/day trip that Mr. D and I went on a few weeks ago. I happened to see in the newspaper that a special event was happening at the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden on Saturday, May 17. We have been out to the garden twice before, but never on this special day.

And what was the special day, you ask? It was Blue Poppy Day! The garden contains a meadow planted in Himalayan Blue Poppies (Meconopsis). These relatively rare plants are a perfect true blue, and so beautiful! Here, for your viewing pleasure, are some of the blue poppies that I saw and photographed:

Aren't these blue beauties spectacular? Definitely worth having a whole day to celebrate their appearance.

The Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden also has a delightful fern garden, and Mr. D and I spent part of our time wandering there, and enjoying the green of the new ferns.

I'm sure you are wondering if there were any rhododendrons blooming, given the focus of this garden. Well, there were (many!), and here's one:

I know we will return to the Rhododendron Species Botanical garden in future springs, and I will share more of the wonders of this place with you when that happens.

In upcoming posts: Three more hikes, and new socks!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Weekly Hikes #2 and #3: Two Sides of the Same Place

We have been having some beautiful weather down here in the lowlands, but it is still very snowy up in the mountains, which limits the options for places to hike. For my second and third weekly hikes of this hiking season, Mr. D and I went to Cougar Mountain both times, but our hikes started out from two different trailheads, and we did explore a trail that we had never been on.

On May 7th, we set out from the Sky Country trailhead, where we have started a lot of our shorter hikes in the winter and early spring this year. We did most of our usual trail, but then we took side trail, mostly downhill, that neither of us had ever been on. This trail went a long, long way to the park boundary. At the park boundary, we turned around, and it became a long, long uphill trail:

That's Mr. D ahead of me on the trail. The woods were beautiful with their spring green, but it was definitely a slog on a hot day.

The hike wasn't completely a slog, however. There was a wild Pacific Bleeding Heart blooming alongside the trail, and sunlight backlighting the Vine Maple leaves above.

Six days later, Mr. D and I set out for a hike on another beautiful sunny day. We had intended to hike the west end of the Rattlesnake Mountain trail, but we forgot to bring our annual Discover Pass, so we opted for Cougar Mountain instead. This time, we decided to start at the Red Town trailhead, where I hadn't hiked in almost a year. Because it had been so long, some of the trail felt brand new to me. We took a side trail to look at the meadow restoration project, where there were scads of wildflowers in bloom. I'm not sure what this one is, but I loved that shade of blue.

There was also something really wonderful about the angle of light, and the amazing circular shadows on the trail.

Sometimes even the familiar can become new...