Monday, July 4, 2016

Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River

Middle Fork (Snoqualmie River) Trail

Every once in a while we get snobby and jaded, thinking we’ve seen it all.  After all, we’ve been around the world.  We’ve travelled on the Dempster Highway en route to the Arctic Circle.  We know potholes!  So, at times we may take warnings of potholes not as seriously as we should.  Stupid! 

We’ve talked about exploring the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River for quite some time now.  There is a campground, previously used for garbage dumping and target practice, and now closed for road construction, that is in a beautiful setting of Washington forest along the Snoqualmie River.  Surrounding it, there are trails along the Snoqualmie River, with a connector path to the Pratt River and beyond.  To reach the campground and trails, exit off of I-90 near North Bend, traversing a road littered with potholes that should not be dismissed.

The description of the trail sounded perfect:  the grade is gentle, the first few miles of the path are also used by horses and bikes, and after the first ¾ mile, the trail widens, as it was old railroad path used for logging.   All of that seemed ideal for a wheelchair.

Things began nicely.  The trail itself is hard-packed dirt, which was easy to roll over.  In the 1990's, Forest Service volunteers constructed a bridge over the river from the parking lot to the trail, eliminating a questionable river crossing and making the beginning quite accessible.  Unfortunately, things deteriorated from there.  We started out to the left, upstream on the Middle Fork Trail, which quickly became narrow, sloping steeply down to the river, and scattered with large rocks.  We didn’t get very far before being forced to turn around, back to the river.  This time we headed in the opposite direction, downstream toward the Pratt River Trail.  We got a bit further, but once again the trail became narrow, steeply sloped, and rocky.  Despite the best efforts of my able-bodied co-hikers, lifting me over fallen trees and large rocks, we were finally forced to turn around.

Bridge across Snoqualmie River at beginning of trail

Snoqualmie River Middle Fork Trail -- high consequence falls!

Snoqualmie River Middle Fork Trail-- things got rocky

Snoqualmie Middle Fork Trail -- beautiful trail on the flat land

The trail itself was beautiful – in the heart of the forest with a gorgeous meandering river down below.  We found several sour blue- and thimble- berries.  We tried to photograph a red-headed woodpecker near the trail.  There was dripping, green moss all around us on rocks and trees.  But, the trail was impassable for a wheelchair after not very long, so we headed back to the river and found a scenic spot for a delicious picnic instead.  The promise of a cold beer at a local pub aided in the navigation of the potholes on the way out.

Snoqualmie River -- too cold to contemplate

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