We are having a wet spring. At least the last three weeks have been wet and each forecast looks like a fire-hose’s nozzle shooting water at us from somewhere out in the Pacific, straight across Oregon and Washington. With only rare exceptions, the temps have been cooler and days damp. It’s a fine way to start off our hiking season…ah, if only there were a font style for “sarcastic.”
You see, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I, like many people, am a “Fair Weather” hiker. This comes as a surprise to many of our friends. Who can blame them?!? After all the Carrot and I have spent days, and weeks, on end walking through ceaseless rain during our through hikes. But then we have little choice. To complete the Pacific Crest Trail, for instance, generally means spending much of September in the North Cascades, which means rain. And after 2200 miles who is going to not finish the last 500, rain or no rain?
So, when I have the choice to put on rain gear and slog up a mountain to get soaked and not have a view OR to stay tucked into a warm, dry bed…..well, let’s just say that a month of September hiking in the North Cascades taught me something.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. For example, if we are leading an organized hike, I will dutifully show up unless everyone has cancelled in advance, and you know there is always one nihilistic glutton for self punishment. There are also those occasional hikes where not only does rain not matter, but actually makes the walk more interesting.
Fortunately, in this wet spring of ours, we had scheduled such a hike for National Trails Day, June 5th. Destination: Thunder Creek Falls, which only really live up to their name during peak spring run off and were sure to be full of sound and fury this spring. So we made sure everyone knew we were going rain or shine. Besides the approach up the East Fork Creek Valley is a great one for a close up look at our natural wonders. And the group we had along enjoyed the chance to stop and smell the flowers as well as various ungulate droppings. We were blessed with many opportunities to enjoy our surroundings including wildlife, wildflowers and rushing/thundering water.
Our wildlife parade was headlined by a cow and calf moose made a brief appearance, and three garter snakes caught trying to sun themselves in the rare moments of sunlight. Deer, Elk, Moose and Bear all left their “calling cards” along the way. Beavers have been active leaving dams and trees felled for food or fun as well. Birds nests, Stream Violets, Trillium, Wild Ginger, Meadow-rue, Hookers Fairy Bells and several of the Solomon Seals all demanded closer inspections. But the day’s highlights were the storm swelled streams with waterfalls in Thunder Creek and a cacophony of sounds along all their wild, dancing courses.
We were even treated, as the clouds parted, to some great views of Drift Peak, Savage Peak and East Fork Peak. We did not have the fastest group, but we had the kind of folks who show up and enjoy themselves when the hike description says “come rain or shine you will enjoy this walk.” No one felt disappointed.
For more pictures, you can visit the Thunder Creek Photo Album on our Facebook Fan Page.
By Phil Hough