In the Matter of Footprints


On Father’s Day my daughter and I took a hike with Ranger (a name, not a description) through our local Parks and Rec Department. We covered 6.2 miles of the Staircase Rapids Loop in the Olympic National Park.

Their Footprint
Our first loop took us to a fallen ancient cedar tree, 40 feet in diameter. The upended root system could easily hold a clutch of kids, perfect for photo ops which we took. Waiting for the shutterbugs to get all 9 of us into the photo I looked up and saw TJ + MN (not their real initials—don’t want to memorialize their vandalism) carved high in the side of the tree. Looking more closely, there were other “unnaturalists” who couldn’t leave the ancient tree in peace.

Our Footprint
Back at the starting point we followed the 1890 O’Neil Expedition’s trail past deep turquoise pools and over a quivering suspension bridge. Before we headed for home we made a second loop through an old-growth forest. If you have never been in one, let me just say it’s like walking through a cathedral more magical than any built of stone through the centuries. The Swainson’s Thrush trilled into the primeval sounds of a hastening river and sun showers that nourished everything—including us.

In case you can’t get to the Staircase Rapids Loop any time soon, here are some photos taken on our hike by Ranger.


PS – One more great thing about this hike and the others we might take: you can eat a liverwurst sandwich with complete aplomb, knowing that you probably won’t have another until possibly the next Olympic National Park hike in early September.

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