Surprises on Squak Mountain

A few weekends ago one of my old roommates from Bellingham came down to visit the Kirkland area and we decided to hike up Squak Mountain in the Issaquah Alps.  This marks the fourth of five main mountains I have now gone hiked on/around in the range, but after making it to the top I was rather disappointed (and not just because the low clouds blocked the view).  However, before I complain any more lets see some of the highlights…

Debris

Woody debris everywhere

About halfway along the path we encountered an area with significant windfall scattered across the forest floor.  Within the span of 3 meters it went from a normal looking second-growth region to looking like a hurricane had ripped everything apart.  The change was so abrupt it startled us.

There were multiple snags as well, looking more like broken toothpicks stuck in the ground than the living organisms they once were.  Some of those showed significant fire damage as well.  If I had to guess I’d say a small fire broke out and was quickly contained last summer, then a huge windstorm blew in and wrecked havoc in the weakened forest… or Sasquatch became very angry and went on a rampage.

Burnout

Signs of fire and wind damage

Some of the fallen trees had interesting protrusions on their trunks.  The marks were caused by the extreme stress contorting the wood as it hit the ground.  The built up pressure needed to escape somehow so it ruptured the fibers at the weakest point, creating a tiny mountain range of jagged splinters.

Stress

Falling can be stressful

Another tree had fallen across the path and had recently been cleared by the trail crew we passed at the trailhead.  The newly cut wood oozed glistening sap while the bright “flesh” almost glowed in the soft lighting.  All the while the smell of pine lingered irresistibly in the air.

Rings

About 55 years since the last logging

As you can tell there were plenty of neat things to see and explore on the trail, and up to this point the trail was great.  But after coming around the last bend a new type of forest we there to greet us instead of a vista.

SteelTrees

A steel forest

TrailEnd

The tallest in the cluster

These huge towers were not at all what we expected to see, along with an access road we had initially crossed at the base of the mountain.  We half jokingly considered climbing the stairs on a shorter tower to get a 360° view but eventually thought better of it for obvious reasons.

First_Tower

The first tower at the peak

The one redeeming quality of the summit was the old abandoned radio tower found just below the others.  There was a barbed wire fence encircling the building, but the gate was open so a snapped a few shots in the grounds.  You can just make out the tower int eh branches to the left of the shed.  The next photo is one of my favourites from the weekend.  I think it truly conveys that this building has been forgotten for ages as the world’s technology has rendered it obsolete.

Fence

An open gateway to the past…

We ended up walking back down the service road to save time and explore some new territory.  All in all not a bad hike, but it would have been nice to know about the surprise ending beforehand.

Photos taken 29 March, 2013 with a Nikon D7100

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