"A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland."
Gone (seasonally) are the days when one of my biggest concerns in choosing a hike is how many miles I can log. I've reached a point when I appreciate simply being outdoors in the winter to stretch my legs and gulp the fresh air because the opportunities are getting fewer and farther between.
In a brief venture before the wettest storm in two years hit, we bounced down a potholed road to a trail at Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. I hadn't expected to see the forest floor blanketed in several inches of snow - in fact, I figured it was a safe bet at only 1,000 feet elevation - but it made the surroundings that much more beautiful.
After leaping over puddles of slush and mounds of snow, we passed beneath briefly through a second-growth forest before reaching the impressive Gateway Bridge. After crossing the icy bridge (think slip-n-slide), we turned left to follow the main trail along the freezing, fast moving Snoqualmie River.
The shortness of time stopped me from visiting the riverbank but the trail followed alongside it for the first mile, providing a peaceful soundtrack to our winter walk. Recent storms meant something of an obstacle course for us: uprooted trees blocked the narrow pathway, forcing us to shimmy underneath fallen branches and climb over downed trees.
As we parted ways with the river, the granite cliffs of Stegosaurus Butte towered above. On the other side of the river's middle fork were snow-capped mountains hidden behind a curtain of mist.
The trail itself was anything but tough. It zigged and zagged a few times but included no climbs or challenges beyond hoisting myself over wet, snowy logs. If we had continued on for the entire 12 miles, we would have ended up at an array of hot springs. But since nature turns the lights out about 4 p.m. these days, we opted to head back after reaching an old logging field that was primarily used in the 1920s and 1930s.
I've vowed not to duplicate any hikes until I've done them all, but this will likely be an exception.