more springtime exploring in damp, shady woods of the middle fork snoqualmie valley where slugs hurry to get nowhere particularly fast

I took Oliver Fern and Adam up to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley on Saturday for a long, slow walk in damp, shady woods that offered blankets of emerald green and trickling creek crossings around seemingly every bend (those trickles may as well have been class 4 whitewater, the boys savored them such). We enjoyed pretty, filtered views of the valley which shall fade over the coming weeks as leaves unfurl their greener greenness. Oliver Fern beat feet in his rubber boots a lot of the time, the clunkers tire him out over longer distances yet even I must concede that Saturday they were valuable insurance considering the more-than-occasional scummy muddiness (except at the end when he filled them in knee-deep water, horse-playing with Adam). It was a quiet day relatively close to front-country: I was tickled because the potholes along the Middle Fork seemed noticeably far worse than even several weeks ago and with staccato lightning in my frozen shoulder after the first few bumps, an abrupt change of plans was made (our original goal had been a portion of the CCC road trail that drops lower in the valley) and so we stayed farther down and went with a bit of a dumpster diver but golly if it wasn’t just perfect. It had been ten years since I walked this one (there are lakes up higher) and maybe the trees growing up helped a lot or perhaps I grew up or maybe you can’t help appreciate the finer details when you’re walking .039 miles per hour (which is roughly equivalent to a slug hurrying to get somewhere). We had a lovely time in the quiet woods (whereas the hordes were ascending upon nearby Mailbox Peak in grotesque numbers, that local landmark inexplicably draws more masochists with each passing year).

At any rate, we trundled an enormous rock for thrills (we’re not boy scouts), ate lots of Oreos, Twinkies and blueberries, scrambled on top of enormous mossy boulders and carefully followed a mostly-buried choker cable off-trail until we discovered a small metal tub riddled with bullet holes from the wild west days. Adam pleaded with me to carry the dang thing out so we could use it in the garden at home (on the way out he remembered exactly where we had to go back into the woods to retrieve it, which disgruntled me a little bit but also made me very proud). This walk sure tired Oliver Fern out but he still took a handful of turns being leader-of-the-pack and would speed up if either Adam or I tried to overtake him, haha!

At our third or fourth lunchtime he snuggled into me on a cozy log with an Oreo handlebar mustache on his face and almost fell asleep as we watched big brother work creekside, grinding sharp nubbins off the fine hiking staff he’d fashioned throughout the day. Oliver managed to stay awake and find his second wind. He succumbed to a short catnap only by the time we were crossing the floating bridge back into town and even then he woke up shortly thereafter on Olive Way.

In the interest of saving weight for such accoutrements as 800 milligram Ibuprofen and an entire box of Twinkies, I only took my Nikkor 24-120 lens along for the walk. Let me grouse for just a moment: I don’t care much for the thing after several months of trying it out (it came as part of the kit for my D750). At first the reach in a such a little package was awfully nice and I thought I was on to something but the vignetting is truly a pain (over and over, I thought I was going crazy and didn’t have the minimalist, petal-style lens hood snapped into place all the way) and generally-speaking it hardly keeps up even with the easier action shots so I think I’m gonna go back to throwing my 70-200 mm in the backpack and just complain about never using it.

Here’s a sample of scenery in the woods and a peek at my angelic, devilish boys playing on a neat wooden bridge. Adam was educating Oliver Fern as to the gross possibilities of dark green organisms under his fingernails, etched from the veneer of moss coating the bridge railing. This was a breezy ravine that we spent quite a bit of time in. The boys took turns playing Billy Goat Gruff, hiding under the bridge and then chasing each other through the creek. I held my breath each time Oliver Fern bounded across stepping stones from bank to bank. He finally did fall in but it seemed suspiciously on purpose. Those boots are getting kind of smelly from all the dips in crisp, clean mountain water.

8 thoughts on “more springtime exploring in damp, shady woods of the middle fork snoqualmie valley where slugs hurry to get nowhere particularly fast

  1. Sounds like the perfect day for your boys and you! I’m jealous of their childhood, having grown up back east, but we did have a pond and woods to explore as kids. Everything is startlingly green all of a sudden, isn’t it? I love that your kids are growing up having wonderful outdoor play and adventures.

    • Hi Ilona. I’ve been doing my best to make places like the MFK Snoqualmie the boys’ ponds and woods. They swoon when I tell them we’re heading up here! I’m not some kind of All-American dad driving a fire truck or coaching soccer so giving them this (and sharing it with them) is a really big deal to me. And I try to make it different from just being a weekend warrior….. like teaching them the value of contemplation and peacefulness and stuff about the environment. Of course, you know they’ll eventually run off and make a sword out of something and bash the crap out of each other.

  2. Louise, all of my exploring in the MFK this winter has only been before the Taylor River (and as a matter of fact, the road has a very nasty section right in that area at the moment). Unfortunately, the darn paving project is starting back up in a few weeks.

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