That Changing Light

A couple days ago, the weather was clear and warm. The trail crew headed to Tired Creek trail to do some work on our ongoing project to repair slumping tread. Mornings are cool in the shade, and the dew lingers all day if the sun doesn’t penetrate to the forest floor. We climbed up to the work site and started digging. Everyone had their task–I sketched a line across the slope and cleared the way. Ethan followed with a pulaski and roughed out the new trail. Tiffany came last with a combi tool and cleaned it up. As we went, we dug out rocks and built a crib wall on the downhill side to stabilize the tread. Very satisfying to complete 160 feet.

The sun moved across the sky in a lower arc than midsummer. It was pleasant in the shade of the big Douglas-firs, and miserably hot in the sun. From time to time I would look up through the trees at the ridge across the valley. It was tinged with a smoky blue light peculiar to autumn in the mountains. There is a scientific reason for this, but I tried not to think about it very much. Just wanted to take it all in.

On the way back, we stopped at the bridge over the Cle Elum River to look at the sockeye salmon. They’re spawning in the gravel. They are flashes of red in the water, hovering and darting. The males have olive green heads and the hooked lower jaw. I am in awe of them. Standing there by the river, looking at the afternoon light that sets the cottonwoods aglow–everything feels right.

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