After an exceptionally damp drive north Saturday morning, our expectations as a group for our hike to Lily Lake were low. Setting out in a light drizzle, we even joked about shortening our hike and instead spending the morning eating brunch at any number of delicious (and dry!) places in nearby Bellingham. While the rain persisted as we hiked, the magical, mist shrouded forest we walked through soon distracted us from any lingering concerns we had about the weather.
As we gently climbed through the forest the rain slowed. Pausing at a stream crossing we realized as a group that the rain had turned to snow. Soon, it began to accumulate in patches of white along the trail. We were so enchanted by the snow that we hardly felt the cold. As it continued to blanket the trail, we stopped frequently for photos of the unexpected wonderland. By the time we reached the lake, snow was falling heavily and the cold had caught up with us. I tried to capture the wintry beauty of the lake, but between the dense flakes of snow blurring the view and the condensation on my lens, I wasn't able to. Rather than stopping for a frosty lunch by the lake, we chose to eat a quick snack and head back for warmer territory.
Motivated by the warmth of our cars, we hurried down the trail back into the rain. Soon, the rain had let up, and shortly after the sun began to break through the low clouds. We paused to soak in the sensation of sun on our skin after being cold and wet for hours. From that point on, we hiked more slowly, stopping frequently for photos of the rays of light streaking through the mist.
In our hurry to escape the weather, we hardly had time to discuss The Hidden Life of Trees, but the book altered the way I saw the forest we hiked through. I thought of the trees preparing for their frenzy of growth and activity through the spring and summer. I also found myself much more drawn to the deformed and unusual trees, thinking of the conditions described by Wohlleben that could have caused them. After reading this book, I saw the unique character of each tree instead of one generic forest much like the countless other second-growth forests surrounding many Washington trails. Even though most of the day felt more like winter, we did manage to find a few signs of spring along the trail as well. A lone flowering red currant dangled over the trail, and many of the huckleberries were only days from unfurling their leaves, the buds a pretty pink hue. These few hints of spring were an enticing promise of the profusion of flowers to come!