Cougar Mountain Hike

Sunday November 6 2005

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Melanie and I went to Cougar Mountain for a day hike. The weather looked like it would be sunny all day and Cougar Mountain is close by and has 36 miles of hiking trails.

There is a picnic ground at the parking lot. At the edge of the picnic area you can look north and see a beautiful vista of Lake Sammamish.

The trail from the parking lot is called the Shangri La trail. It goes through a young forest. None of the trees are all that old because this mountain was logged, used as a coal mine, and other industrial uses during Seattle history. Only relatively recently has Cougar Mountain been converted to a park and that forest is slowly regrowing. The second picture is Melanie on the trail. Look at all the moss on the trees and ferns on the ground. You can tell this is a wet environment.

We did see some gigantic stumps in the ground, which are a good indicator of how large the trees use to grow on Cougar Mountain before the logging. Perhaps in another hundred years, huge trees will again cover the mountain again. I couldn't figure out why the stumps were so tall - why did they cut the tree at a point 6 feet above the ground? I was also unable to understand why the stumps were still visible at all - it has been decades since Cougar Mountain was made a park, yet still the stumps have not decomposed. Shouldn't they rot in this moist climate?

About halfway around the 3 mile loop of trails that we walked is the clay pit. I think this is left over from when Cougar Mountain was an industrial site. Close to the clay pit is the entrance to a coal mine. A protective grate covers the mine entrance so no one can fall in.

Near the Coal Mine the trail took us a long the shore of tiny lake with very dark water. It started to sprinkle off and on. I took the picture here to capture the sunlight filtering through the rain droplets that clung to the tree branches

The raindrops soon turned to hail! Of course, we were the furthest point from the parking lot on our hike. For a few minutes, it looked pretty bleak, the whole sky had turned grey and the hail was really coming down. But in a few minutes the clouds had past overhead and the sun returned. I was surprised how long the hail took to melt. The second picture shows sunlight returning to the damp forest.

The trail took us over a stream that was forded by a bridge built from a big ol' log. I don't think any trolls resided under that bridge, but I neglected to check. I like the second photo - with the sunlight streaming through the moss covered trees. It looks sunny and warm, doesn't it? It wasn't actually that warm, but still the sunshine felt good.

I tried a couple of close up pictures. The moss cover stump sprouted a bunch of bright yellow mushrooms. The giant yellow maple leaves seem to grow from the tiny saplings, a tree that little has no business producing such huge leaves!

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