The forest starts to bloom

Salmonberry shrub in bloom

I take my always-willing trail running partner - Finn MacCool - out to Cougar Mountain this morning. A Tuesday, the parking lot is nearly empty. We never do see anyone else, so it feels like we have the woods to ourselves. Finn is my motivation for getting out here as often as we do. All of my dogs prefer playing in the forest to the city. So do I.

I take my time as we run the single track trails at an easy pace, noticing all the new growth as spring arrives in the forest. The big trees haven't leafed out yet, but closer to the ground, colors are appearing. Finn isn't much help pointing out wildflowers, but he tolerates my own fascination with them. Finn focuses on things that move: birds and squirrels.

Skunk cabbage.

The brilliant yellow flowers of the skunk cabbage are deceptively beautiful. As the plant grows in size, it starts living up to its name and stinks. Maybe because they grow in swampy areas shaded by trees.


I much prefer the trillium flower. It doesn't stink. It also grows low to the ground, under trees. Some have a beautiful shading of purple on their petals. When I see trillium in the forest, I consider spring to have sprung.

Young fruit tree; apple?

I am surprised to find this flowering fruit tree in the park. I think it's an apple tree. It's young, and growing in front of an interesting pile of boulders that make a natural cave and passage. 

Finn in the natural passage made by the tumbled boulders.

Huckleberry shrubs growing out of nurse log.

Continuing on our way, I start noticing several huckleberry shrubs growing out of the stumps of long gone old trees. Maybe perching higher off the ground protects their leaves and berries from munching deer? I need to remember this spot, come late summer, to eat the delicious berries.

Salmonberry, skunk cabbage and swamp water.

I keep stopping to take photos. Finn is very patient, rolling around in the ferns to amuse himself. Arriving at Coal Creek Falls, I let him have his fun, chasing sticks in the pools below the falls for several minutes.

As is often the case, I start this morning's run stressed about stuff. Watching Finn bound through the undergrowth like a small red gazelle, chasing tiny birds, my smile returns and my shoulders relax. Moving through the forest always works its magic on my mood and makes me realize that all that stuff isn't as important as I sometimes let it seem.

Sun filtered through new leaves.

This last photo was taken in a Kirkland park a few days ago. When the sun was shining. Which is rare in the Seattle area this time of year. Maybe you've heard that before? Oh well. Without all the rain, nature wouldn't be so green a lush around here.
Rebecca WallickComment