But then, after breakfast, on a wild and windy day, we decided to go for a little bit of an extra drive. The first bit of it was that 2.6 mile dead-end exploration - and then we took a side road which swings around and opens into a trailhead parking lot. Now, you might think that on a day like this a walk in the woods was hardly the most obvious thing that would come to mind. But. Oh. My. God.
These were the Fairy Tale Woods.
The air smelled of winter, and of wet leaves, and a little bit of woodsmoke, like someone's campfire lay just out of sight, a hunter's fire, or that outside a cave in which dwelled seven dwarves. The trees were mossy, the decidious ones having lost all their leaves and revealing their hairy branches in all their glory. And the trees had FACES.
I took a photo of one of these on an earlier walk in this place, in the long slow days and the lazy golden light of summer - this guy:
He looks sterner now, greyer, darker, but with a brand new little cedar growing out of the stump like a bizarro hat.
A little further on, another tree had two knots and a vertical rip in the bark with a horizontal scar on the tree just underneath. Yes, of course that's what they were. It couldn't possibly have been a long-nosed face with two round eyes and a disapproving slash of a mouth.
I swear, come the full moon, these trees get up and DANCE out here.
One or two others looked like they were wrapped in snakes that had pissed off some wrathful wizard who had turned them into woody vines coiling around tree trunks.
And there were weird mushrooms growing all over everything.
And there were bare-branched bushes bearing nothing more than just white berries on the twigtips - I almost brought one home to Google the thing, but honestly, it looked so frankly POISIONOUS that I didn't feel right bringing it into my house and subjecting a pair of curious cats to potential death by berry.
And at the far end of the trail, where it ends at the lake, I was faced by an ANGRY lake, like I"d never really seen Lake Whatcom before - pewter-gray water stirred into choppy wavelets by the relentless widn, breaking viciously against the shore - there was SPRAY in the air, from the usually quiet and placid thing that it is, just lapping at the shoreline in gentle little caresses.
On the way back, up a tree, right against the trunk, something I finally identified as a very cheesed off owl who was trying to get a nap tucked away into what it thought was a windbreak but the wind constantly found its way around the tree and tweaked and teased, ruffling the feathers any which way, rousing the owl into grumpy bleary eyed wakefullness. Some other bird whom I could not see nor identify was calling from the deeper woods, its voice almost lost in the wind-blown forest surrounding me.
Somewhere near by an almost-fallen tree creaked and groaned as it chafed against some other trunk that had broken its fall - but it sounded sufficiently evil and imminent that I kind of scuttled out of that area fast. And above me, high up in the crowns, the wind played and called and wailed and stirred and challenged; if you looked up you could see the treetops swaying against the leaden sky.
These were not the deceptive and lulling summer woods that I had met here before. But this, somehow, felt like their true nature. It was as if I had walked into a fairy creature and it had inadvertently let slip its true name.
I did not have my camera with me because the battery was dead and I had left that chargung at home. Perhaps it was just as well. Some things are better seen and remembered when NOT observed through a camera lens.
I walked in wonder. I walked in power. I walked in stark and sharp-etched beauty.
And a voice whispered to me from the treetops. Winter is coming.