The amount of snow still in the mountains—even the foothill river valleys—is mind-boggling. Friends were skiing lift areas until recently. Mt. Baker just closed this week.
Call it denial: I was ready for a real low-elevation hike, not a commute among joggers and dog-walkers on one of those wide, well-groomed thorofares that criss-cross the state parks adjacent to the suburban fringe; I wanted wilderness. So yesterday I passed by the state lands and continued on toward national forest, enduring miles of mud-filled potholes to poke around one of the west side drainages.
The valley looked as though it had just stepped out of the shower after a rough night: wet, matted ferns, windfall, patches of snow in the shady spots. I had the place to myself. Despite the violence of winter, the biological imperatives of spring were all around. I found these delicate little fiddleheads that looked like they were in mid-conversation.
Trilliums in full bloom covered the forest floor. Western coltsfoot (not to be confused with the edible coltsfoot of the eastern U.S.) like this one to the left blossomed from the seeps.
The birds were stirring too. Winter wrens sang their bubbling songs, and the varied thrushes—usually hard to approach—offered glimpses of themselves as they filled the woods with their eerie, ventriloquil notes. The sun came out at some point and dappled the forest with a warm, magical glow.
An abundance of fiddleheads sprouted from clumps that lined the trail, and though not of the choicest varieties, I pocketed enough anyway for a couple meals, of which more later.