Chuckanuts: The Mountains Next Door

Things did not go as planned these past two weekends. Rather than mushroom hunting and relaxation, there has been snow and wind and rain, visits to the doggie ER and humans operating at something less than one hundred percent.

So we improvised.

Rather than the relatively far-flung spots we’d had in mind for mushroom hunting, we stayed close to home–and managed to find several completely new-to-us spots.

For all the hundreds–thousands?–of times I’ve made good use of the interurban trail between Fairhaven and the Chuckanuts, I’ve never explored many of the side spurs in and around Arroyo Park.

Turns out there’s a lot to see there.

Although the Chuckanuts and their trail systems are one of my favorite spots near Bellingham, I think of the area mostly as a great place to bike or run or even canoe.

When it comes to hiking, I’ve come to think of think of this geographical oddity as, well, kind of tame, at least in comparison to some of our other haunts. This is probably because a) we had until recently a little buddy who was pretty much the opposite of tame; and b) we use the Chuckanuts as a back-up for days when we can’t do, ahem, “real” adventures–you know, things that involve slogging along remote mountain roads.

But no!

I stand corrected–and somewhat chagrined that I’d somehow forgotten all of the epically odd adventures we’ve had in the Chuckanuts over the years. For these we can, as usual, thank our good friend David, with whom we had the fortune of hiking again this past weekend.

David is the sort of person who can turn a trip to the grocery store into an odyssey, and this past Sunday was no different. All we did, really, was poke around in Arroyo Park in the rain, looking without success for spawning salmon, and head up a short, new-ish trail to Chuckanut Falls.

And yet, there were obstacles and villains and missing canines (not ours, for once) finally reunited with their grateful owners. There were beleaguered adventurers and brushes with mortality, hard questions faced with bravery and humor and the grace of friendship.

There might also have been a few tall tales.

The woods held the last golden leaves of autumn, their brilliance sharp against the darkening hush of a November afternoon. Home, too, contains its mysteries.

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