The Cooper River Trail is one of the first trails to open up. Snow melt is about a month behind “normal” this year. The river is high and loud, cool green where it runs a little slower, frothy white where it is forced through tight canyons. Cloud cover keeps sounds from dispersing far and wide; the woods feel a little more intimate under a low sky. Our feet kick loose rocks and sweep winter debris out of the trail. Lichens from the treetops, bits of storm-scattered foliage. The dense brush has not leafed out yet. Hundreds of white trilliums bloom on the forest floor, all their three-petaled faces turned toward the south where the brightest light comes from. Vanilla leaf has just popped up through the papery litter of last year’s vine maple leaves, still folded into flat purplish triangles. Big Douglas-firs stand sentinel above the river, their charred corky bark bearing the scorch of a long ago ground fire. The massive trunks creak and groan a little in the wind.
The forest seems well-rested and clean right after the snow melts, before the summer people show up. Busy and alive after the winter quiet.