Hike: Cougar Mountain
If T. S. Eliot had been a Northwest hiker instead of an English poet, would he have written, “April is the “cruelest month. . .stirring dull roots with spring rain?” I will never know, but I do know that April in the Northwest can be cruel because of its unpredictability; it can tease and disappoint people like me who are prone to being overly optimistic and hopeful.
In Seattle, the landscape is exploding with bright yellow daffodils, clouds of pink cherry blossoms, and the tropical smells of hyacinths and daphne odora. So, we naturally think Spring is here, and we will be able to find hikes a little higher in elevation. Wrong. All the trip reports talk of waist-deep snow at our favorite Alpine Lakes.
I have to admit to being a little disappointed that we were going back to Cougar Mountain. We expected today’s hike to be solely about training; we took along a GPS so we can make sure we get a workout of at least 1500’ of elevation and 5 miles. We achieved our exercise goal but were pleasantly surprised with a couple views and the first blossoms, a signal that Spring really is coming.
We found two very lovely waterfalls. The first we almost missed, but we decided to backtrack to add a little more miles/elevation. The water cascading over the moss-carpeted rocks was stunning.
The second waterfall was a large one (and no doubt at its fullest due to the rains and snow this winter).
We also got our first glimpses of the classic first spring flowers. Trilliums are now in full bloom, arriving pure white.
The most magnificent floral display of the day, however, was from the skunk cabbage, a plant that is not unique or rare, but when you are craving the bright colors of spring, it is truly a welcome sight (although not necessarily a welcome smell).