Thursday, December 3, 2020

Camp Brown

 Camp Brown,overlooking the Middle Fork Snoqualmie 
and Garfield Mountain

Things change.

20 years ago, I was in an airplane, embarking upon a year-long trip around the world. Now, we talk about "staycations" and plan road trips near to home. Things change.

20 years ago, I was walking with my own two legs, using hiking poles only to hike. Now, I am unable to take even one step, and I am only able to hike by using my wheelchair. Things change.

Several years ago, we drove down a pothole-filled, dirt road past Mailbox Peak, to hike along the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River -- only to have to turn around very quickly, as the trail soon became impassable to my wheelchair. Today, we drove 11 miles down a smooth, paved road --this same one -- to a fantastic ADA trail a little down-river from where we'd hiked previously. Things change.

Camp Brown was historically a logging camp, boys' camp and US Forest Service Guards' station, and it is now -- thanks in large part to the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust -- a beautiful day use area.  Framed by mountains (especially Garfield Mountain), the Camp sits next to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River, in a forest filled with a variety of conifers and deciduous trees, covered by moss and lichen.  11 picnic spots with picnic tables, charcoal grills, and views are nested within the trees alongside the congressionally-designated Wild and Scenic river.  The parking lot offers disabled parking spots and accessible outhouses (temporarily closed), while each of the picnic tables has a place for a wheelchair and its inhabitant.  Visitors must display a Discover Pass; according to the Discover Pass website, however, visitors with disabled placards/plates are exempt.

The main attraction, in my mind, is a .45 mile gravel-lined, hard-packed dirt accessible trail,
which is always wide, usually level, and mostly flat.   There are s
mall ups and downs, especially at beginning and end of the loop, but I made it without help around trail (disclaimer: my Freedom Chair wheelchair is propelled by levers and fairly strong upper-body muscles).  A friend completed this trail in a power wheelchair with no problem.  There is one bridge, but the edges are level with the ground.  
There is one area that looks as though it had already been washed out and rebuilt.  Since the trail is positioned next to a river, I'm curious to see if the path and accessible features will remain intact after the winter and spring rains.

The trail and the picnic areas are accessed from the parking lot.  After a brief straight path, the trail loops to the right.  The hiker can travel around the loop in either direction, taking either the first or second turn-off.  Continuing straight leads to stairs down to the river.  Those who can not (or prefer not to) do steps can reach the river via an accessible path jogging out from the ADA loop back to the bottom of the steps.  The loop circles through trees and ferns, showcasing displays of moss and lichen, interspersed with educational placards.

Camp Brown is a wonderful place for a picnic or a short hike or both.  Things change . . . but hopefully this is one that won't change much!

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