My hiking partner, Jonathan and I hiked the Lennox Creek trail Monday. While Seattle had a lovely, mostly sunny day, it rained and rained in the Cascades. We also got lost several times trying to find the trailhead. It was a miserable day, but always wonderful to be in the mountains.
Amidst all the misery, I almost forgot to add that we gobbled up some of the best huckleberries I’ve ever eaten. The difference between wild and cultivated berries is amazing. A cultivated berry tastes lovely, sweet and refreshing. But a wild berry is a complex set of tastes that combine to form a wonderful sensory experience. It is sweet, but mildly so. It is tart, but mildly so. Then you sense other mineral-like tastes, perhaps the influence of soil, growing conditions or terrain. If you’ve never tasted a wild berry, I almost guarantee that on first taste it will not impress because you are used to the one-note sweet taste of the cultivated berry. But if you focus on the subtlety and complexity of the wild flavor, you will come to understand that the wild version is a bountiful gift to us. Jonathan likens wild berries to wine in the following way: wild berries are to cultivated berries what wine is to grape juice. Grape juice is a sweet, refreshing drink. But wine is a truly complex, subtle and glorious drink. We saw two similar varieties of berries. The small, dark blue berries were huckleberries. But amidst these also grew a larger, dark purple variety. Does anyone know what the latter is called?
Trail driving directions: A word of advice–if you use 100 Hikes in Washington’s Alpine Lakes (the best trail guide book bar none for this region) for travel directions, please remember that Lennox Creek (hike 98) travel directions are almost non-existent. But the travel directions for Bare Mountain (hike 97), whose trailhead is about a mile or less from Lennox Creek, are perfect. Be sure to read hike 97 travel directions before departing.
First, a word about this hike. It is one of the stranger ones you can do in Snoqualmie Pass. The road washed out over a mile from the actual trailhead, so you have to park your car, surmount the trenches gouged out in the flood and dodge the holes in the bridge’s wooden planking and then walk about 45 minutes to the original trailhead. The trail has not been maintained in probably 5 years so it is a total mess. While the hike was always steep, with all the wash outs, blowovers, brush blockages, it’s a treacherous hike.
So why would you want to do it? Beauty, sheer beauty: the cirque at the trail’s end is one of the most beautiful and bounteous I’ve ever seen. After a rain or in a seasons with sufficient rainfall, the cirque is filled with purple and white blooming heather, streams, rivulets and rills falling from the summit above. The rocks are everywhere–huge smooth, flat rocks over which water flows in sheets, smaller rock steppingstones down which the water trickles. Along the trailside, you’ll see small fern gardens with many varieties of miniature water loving plants over which water drips down constantly in small droplets. If you look down toward the Lennox Creek watershed, you see mountains and a waterfall across the valley. It is beautiful country. I call it the world’s largest rock garden. My dog was so thrilled with reaching the top that she decided to have puppy crazies and grab large logs and drag them across the landscape…and this after a pawbreaking 3 hour climb in solid rain! Lennox Creek is one of my three favorite Snoqualmie Pass hikes (the others being Kendall Catwalk and Melakwa Lakes).
By the time we made it back to the car at 7:30 PM, we were soaked and chilled to the bone. We had dirt, mud and debris over our clothes, bodies and backpacks. But a mere ten minutes of Jonathan’s 1987 Tercel car heater (one setting–nuclear or nothing) did the trick.
For great trail information, visit the Washington Trails Association site.