Thursday, January 21, 2021

Hemlock Trail and Chuckanut Falls

The turnoff to the falls

Today, three of us set off from the Chuckanut Mountain trailhead for Raptor Ridge, a place we often visit during the winter months. This year, it's been visited more often than usual, but we didn't actually make it there today. As we headed up the Hemlock trail, I began to lose steam and had to make several stops just to catch my breath. Melanie and Sue let me make the call to stop and turn around, rather than continue. I don't know why I was feeling so tired today, but they didn't make me feel too bad. We decided to turn around and make a trip to Chuckanut Falls.

Melanie, "the Dude," and Sue

We often stop to visit this interesting little configuration in a tree, which looks like a face, often with a doobie sticking out of his "mouth." The reference is to an old movie, "The Big Lebowski," with Jeff Bridges playing the part of "The Dude." It's fun to watch it again, which I did after we discovered the tree. It's on the trail to the falls.

Overlooking Chuckanut Falls

We chatted about the falls for awhile, enjoying the mild weather and lack of the you-know-what coming out of the sky. (Earlier we thought today was going to be very wet, but the front disappeared, thank goodness.)

We enjoyed seeing the falls

After spending some time at the falls, we turned around and began our return trip to the cars. However, Sue saw some Christmas decorations that had been forgotten on a tree , and she was concerned about birds mistaking them for something edible.

A Christmas bell and sign

Melanie and Sue took down the bells and other Christmas ornaments and placed them in a bag, which was left at the trailhead. They are mostly made of glass, and Sue was concerned about windstorms breaking them and causing harm.

Doing a good deed

We then turned around and made our way back to the trailhead. We had a short discussion about the ferns that grow out of trees around here. I had learned they are called "licorice ferns," but I'm not sure exactly why.

A pretty fern-and-moss bouquet

Although we didn't go as far as we intended when we began, we did manage to get some five or so miles out of it, with plenty of elevation as well. And we were home early, as opposed to last week's hike when I barely made it back in time for our weekly Zoom call with the other Senior Trailblazers. It wa a fine day out, and now I am feeling quite rested and happy to have been exploring with my friends.



  1. I never heard of this term. The falls are oretty. I like the outlook photo very much!

  2. I don’t think we have that fern here. It looks huge. Your Thursday walks always sound challenging but wonderful.

  3. Pretty ferns! Glad you made it out and about...some days are just "off" and I think it is our bodies way of saying take it easy:)

  4. I'm so glad you had such a nice day and a lovely walk with good friends. It's always good to listen to your body.

  5. Funny how you can do the same hike many times and still find something interesting. I have been walking three to four miles a day and it's always interesting and I like walking by myself. .

  6. I wonder if that fern smells like anisette. Did you sniff it? That's such a beautiful area.

  7. Another nice day and hike. The weather seems to adjust to your outings!

  8. The dude cracks me up. Also good that you removed the decorations. Possible hazards. Sounds like a pretty darn nice day.

  9. I like that Dude, too. Sorry you felt tired early on, but 5 miles isn't bad. Wish I could accomplish that.

  10. The indigenous people chewed the root, which tastes like licorice. Not sure if it smells like licorice. I'll have to check that out.

  11. Now it's Friday and another sunny day, cold though. I'm going to take my wheels outside this afternoon for a trip or two up and down the driveway. We hike however we can.
    We have a patch of licorice fern growing in our yard, right outside my front window in our winter garden.

  12. I liked this too, to be honest you made me laugh out loud with "The Dude" and that tree! Anyway DJan, that was very nice what Melanie & Sue did in regards to those decorations. Gee I need to find some walking friends of my own, I get lazy too easy.

  13. I'm glad you listened to your body and your friends were understanding. You still had a wonderful time. Love all the pics! :)

  14. People hang Christmas decorations on random trees along the trails, and then just leave them there? Seems weird. Glad you cleaned up after them.

  15. Always nice to hike to a waterfalls!

  16. What a beautiful hike, in the midst of winter no renews one's spirit.
    I found this information on the Liquorice Fern, how very interesting !
    "Historically, Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest chewed on this root for its spicy sweetness, a lip-puckering flavor that’s a cross between ginger and—you guessed it—licorice. It was also believed to have medicinal properties that could cure colds and sore throats.

    Today’s foragers seek the root’s striking flavor, and licorice fern is showing up on local restaurant menus with increasing frequency as chefs try to incorporate wild tastes from just beyond our back doors. "
    I'm a liquorice lover of old :)
    Thank you for sharing, hope you are well.

  17. Recall hiking Chuckanut Mtn a number of times, back in college at WWU in late 70's / early 80's, primarily the west slope, as the views from there of the San Juan Islands off in the distance were always spectacular.

    Vaguely remember a rocky area atop Chuckanut that faced east, with Mt. Baker off in the distance, and Mt. Rainier visible a 100+ miles to the south.

    Good for you to still be able to hike around Chuckanut Mtn, 5 miles none the less, on a low energy day.

    Thanks for sharing your story and photos.


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