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What’s new Spring saw a few nice upgrades to the old Graydon Reserve. We added two picnic tables to replace the two that went downriver with the November 2006 flood. Muir Woods is now more open and walkerfriendly thanks to a bit of clearing. There we planted some twinflowers, Solomon’s seal, black lily and, believe it or not, the ubiquitous bluebells. The route to Highview is now clear of winter blow-down. The wetland garden and rockery have a host of new plants to join the old favorites. The ping-pong table is up and running. And six little incense cedar are taking root along the river.



In a place of beauty, high hopes for the future


f you like what you see around here, you’re in luck. The scene may look the same far into the future. Much of the landscape on all sides—a sparkling river, jagged peaks, forested hills—is protected one way or another. Last year brought two great conservation victories. First came creation of the federal Wild Sky Wilderness. And then Heybrook Ridge, prominent in any view from around here, was permanently saved from logging. I’ve spent some of my best days over the past 20 years scrambling up the mountains that are now within the 106,000-acre wilderness. My favorite is Mount Baring, the double-summit peak that stands in proud isolation just east of here. In fact, without Mount Baring I don’t think there would even be a Graydon Reserve. My

A PANORAMA OF RIVERS and mountains fills the view in this photo from the summit of Mount Persis. The new Wild Sky Wilderness includes Gunn and Merchant Peaks and Spire Mountain and many other high alpine areas and lowland forest.

son Andy and I were high in a snow chute beneath Baring one day in the spring of 1990 when the route got too dicey and we turned back early—and this gave us time to check on a realtor’s sign for land on the banks of the Skykomish. I bought it. The Wild Sky Wilderness that spreads out north and east of Index also encompasses Gunn Peak, a tasty lure for weekend alpinists, the meandering highland paradise of Cady Ridge, old-growth forest, salmon streams, hidden Lake Isabel, and a lifetime of other treasures. It even includes the point we privately refer to as Graydon Peak. My climbing buddy Dick McConaughy and I trekked to the top one day and realized that such an impressive summit deserved a name, even though it’s simply the western high point of the long ridge leading from Gunn Peak, which is just 22 feet higher. It took nine years of congressional ups and downs to make the wilderness designation a reality. The Senate approved the Wild Sky twice, only to have it killed in House committee. For supporters of the Wild Sky, the villain of the story was the Republican chairman of the House Resources Committee, Richard Pombo. After voters in Pombo’s California district sent him home, the House passed the bill. But it took a couple more years of political dealing before the bill finally ended up on the desk of President Bush, who signed it May 8, 2008. Logging, mining and motorized vehicles are prohibited in a wilderness area. Hiking, climbing, hunting, fishing, rafting and other recreational activities are permitted. THE HEYBROOK RIDGE story was another cliffhanger. Would the town of Index — population 157—be able to raise more than a million dollars to buy the 129 acres before the PLEASE SEE PAGE 8


mily’s Park is getting the usual tourists: a young New Mexico couple sunbathing on a blanket, another couple basking on lounge chairs, a roaming gang of schoolkids. Meanwhile Don cuts grass, Jonelle gardens. Can’t waste a sunny day by lying around. . . . . One green, one blue, one yellow, two undecided: the picnic tables here are beginning to look like a box of Crayolas. . . . Down the road at Wave Trek, river guide Erika Morris says their coffeeshop is still in the works. It can’t come too soon. . . . . Whitewater freaks are lining up at Wave Trek for their turn at a run down the wild Sky. The operation run by Blair and Kathy Corson has transformed the former Index Tavern into a magnet for outdoor adventurers. Goodbye lounge lizards, hello river rats. . . . Forget the Roundup: the new Index Community Gardens site is strictly a chemical-free zone. To see about planting your veggies at one of the prettiest places in town, contact Sue Cross or David Cameron. ERIKA ―Record snowfall, blizzards, freezing rains, avalanches, mudslides and high winds.‖ With these chilling words a Seattle Times story explained why a batch of counties including our very own Snohomish qualified for federal disaster money for last winter. . . . . The good news: we did not get 100 inches of rain last year. According to David Cameron’s rain gauge, the total was only 99.515. . . . . And no major floods over the winter. But the snowfall! Upper Avenue A became a slippery one-lane, four-wheel-drive track bordered by Citizen reacts to walls of white. Our vehicles stayed below by Index weather the road while we got our daily workout hiking up and down the long steep driveway. . . . . And how do you know when you’re leaving the incorporated town of Index and entering Upper Avenue A? Well, you could read the sign on the power pole outside Pastor John’s house. Or you could just glance down at the river’s overflow channel and spot the beaver dam that’s right on the boundary line. Erynn Sullivan is away from Avenue A for a while to study surveying at Renton Tech. It agrees with her: ―For the first time in my life I’ve got a 4.0.‖ . . . . There was Norbert Sorg, gamely digging up the jungle of blackberry vines in front of his cabin. You could almost hear each vine hissing the words of another famous unkillable organism: ―I’ll be back.‖. . . . NORBERT Our closest neighbor, Warren Hartz, says he’s partially red/green colorblind. Quite a confession coming from an artist who creates gorgeous hand-dyed silk ties. At, he explains that he consults on colors with wife Edie and daughter Lisa. . . . . We seem to get one new house per WARREN decade on Upper Avenue A. In the 90s it was 2


Don’s green house on the hill. This decade brought Kevin and Norbert’s cabin. And now Micky Doner is putting in a road and clearing a site for the house of the 2010s. The county creeps toward rebuilding Index-Galena Road, closed since the disastrous November 2006 flood. Standing not so patiently by are the people who used the road to reach their cabins or to hike and fish in the paradise of the upper Sky. Current cost estimate: ten to twenty million dollars. Completion date: unknown. . . . . With the sudden appearance of No Trespassing signs at the Index Lower Town Wall, rock jocks were jolted into action. Matt Perkins of the Washington Climbers Coalition says they now have an 18-month option to buy the property from the owner. Price is $115,000. And for now, the signs have been taken down. . . . . Tobey and Cobi and one-year-old James are back east while Tobey installs two climbing walls. Before leaving, T&C packed their skis up the scramble route toward Gunn Peak, then skied a chute that dumps into Lewis Creek. Says Cobi: ―Scariest run of my life.‖ Says Tobey: ―I’ll TOBEY be back.‖ The lovely drive to the Graydon Reserve passes through Frank’s junkyard, a kind of highly disguised blessing. We treasure it as the black hole that sweeps us into our little parallel universe. (Or, as Paul describes it, ―the storm before the calm.‖) . . . . ―And what,‖ I am asked, ―is a Graydon reserve? A reserved Graydon? A Graydon in reserve? A way to reserve a Graydon? It doesn’t make any sense.‖ I try to respond calmly. ―Now now, it’s just a state of mind. It means nothing and everything. It makes me happy.‖ . . . . Big black Lewis was first. Then in late May, sleek brown Boca and fast white Blanca become the second and the third dogs to reach Highview, including a climb up the wet and slippery Keyhole. . . . The Cantina del Rio (formerly the storage BLANCA & BOCA shed), a big hit at Dana and Jordan’s wedding, is getting a major upgrade. We’ll splash on more garish primary colors inside, decorate with Don’s Baja souvenirs, and send the invites for a late-summer Cerveza Madness party. ¡Viva Mexico! . . . . Not to be outdone by the new flag at the Index town overlook, Jonelle sewed up a new flag for Skyview, high above the reserve. Spot it if you can. . . . . Sarah Witzel celebrated a sunny Saturday birthday at the reserve when she turned nine on May SARAH 23. Sarah and sister Anya and parents Paul and Lisa are off to Shanghai the end of July for a two-year teaching stint at Shanghai Community International School. ¡Viva Index and Shanghai! [DON]


Locked gates on forest roads

Next time you visit the little hideaway throne near the hut, you’ll also be able to admire the work of sisters Anya and Sarah. Anya painted the bold sun on the lid, while Sarah stood on her head to create the mountain scene inside.


A publication of the Graydon Reserve Summer 2009

“We’re not in Kansas anymore.” Editor Don Graydon Associate Editor Jonelle Kemmerling IT Support Paul Witzel, Brad Music Contributing Writer Bob Hubbard Publisher Yellow Submarine Press Photos and Design Don Graydon Printer Kool Change Printing

Scientists envision a vast number of parallel universes, some of them much like our own . . . only different. I often feel that the Graydon Reserve exists in a parallel universe—a place similar to the everyday world, but blessed with a touch of overthe-rainbow magic. The concept of a reserve was inspired by a visit to the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. There, Jonelle and I discovered the kinship between that landscape of dark fir and cedar forest rich in mosses, ferns and wildflowers and our own home on the western edge of the Cascade Mountains. Our eight acres, a reserve in spirit if not in fact, begin at the Skykomish River and rise hundreds of feet through woods and cliffy terrain with narrow whitewater streams and tiny waterfalls, the spires of Mount Index lording over it all. I hold the deed to this place, but can you ever really own such beauty? Jonelle and I offer this newsletter as a way to share our love of the reserve and as an invitation to come enjoy it with us.

GRAYDON RESERVE 51303 Avenue A PO Box 166 Index, Washington 98256 360.793.9148

The Pinwheel Galaxy meets the Swirl. See map of the reserve on pages 6-7

Galaxy photo: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon Sky Center, University of Arizona

The public faces lockout from two roads that head into the mountains near Index. The roads are managed by the Forest Service. District Forester Barbara Busse okayed the closures after requests from the timber companies that own lands along the roads. Regarding Forest Road 6028, the timber company complained about garbage dumping on its property. The road starts just east of Baring and heads north into the lands beneath Grotto Mountain and the south peak of Mount Baring. The road is now barred. For Road 62, Longview Fibre reports dumping, vandalism and illegal shooting. Road 62 takes hikers and climbers to the trailhead for two of the finest summit scrambles in the region: Mount Persis and Mount Index. As of mid-June, the gate had not yet been locked. The closures are especially troubling because flood damage to other roads has already cut access to some of the area’s best hikes and viewpoints. For me, the Road 62 situation is an old story. The road was gated ten years ago, then later reopened after negotiations among hikers, Longview Fibre and the Forest Service. I and fellow hikers Neil Bresheare and Dave Letcher became the citizen activists who campaigned to reopen the road, planning work parties to clear the roadside of years of illegal dumping. This time around, Neil is back on the phones, again looking for a solution. On his call list are folks at the Don and Neil on Mount Persis, with Index below. Forest Service, Longview Fibre, the county council and the sheriff’s office. Hikers and climbers are debating the issue on the forums at and Neil is at 425-3887651; Barbara Busse is at 360-677-2414. For myself, I’d hate to again lose practical access to Mount Persis, with its spectacular views from the summit—including a look directly down to our little town of Index. [DON] SUMMER 2009



Wildflower time is a bloomin’ wonder

I counted twenty-six species of plants just by turning in a circle.

Naturalist Bob Hubbard holds a degree in forest management, with additional studies in botany, entomology and geology. He is an Index town councilman and past chairman of the town’s planning commission. He’s also a trailblazer, literally, currently developing trail routes for the new Heybrook Ridge county park.




uir Woods is much larger than it looks on the colorful little map of Don’s place. For a two- to threeacre woods it is at once too small to get lost in and too big not to. It is perfect for wandering. Topographically it’s a gently sloping bench sandwiched between a moderately steep lower slope (that rises from Avenue A and ends at William’s Meadow) and a quite steep upper slope (beginning around the Alder Meadow area). Low knoll-like ridges interfinger with shallow swales throughout Muir Woods and are serviced by a vein-like system of trunk trails and capillary paths. I was on a scouting mission of sorts, to see if I could douse out a few stories from the forest. From the top of William’s Meadow I wandered uphill and to the right, to the headwaters of Saw Creek. ON THE WAY IN it was obvious this was a diverse forest, not some timber company’s monoculture: you could look up almost anywhere and have trouble finding three trees in a row of the same species. You could look down and see five or more species of herbs or ferns without moving your head. Standing above the sylvan pools of Saw Springs I counted twenty-six species of plants just by turning in a circle. The world around me was exploding with life and incident. I was sitting with my back to a stump, brain foaming over with data, looking for some sort of theme that might unite all these growing things. I was rapidly approaching information overload and decided to look for something simpler to contemplate than complexity. In Muir Woods the curtain was up on the late-spring wildflower show. An easygoing look at a few of the more prominent wildflowers seemed like just what I needed in this crisis. People who are used to the big showy flowers of florist shops and urban gardens might initially have trouble finding and appreciating the forest’s smaller, often hidden, flowers. As you stand looking down, half-inch-wide


flowers don’t look that impressive. But close up—especially when viewed through a good magnifier—they reveal their complex geometries and simple beauties. I looked around. The trilliums were past their prime, and the tepals had already fallen off the fairy bells. The false lilies-of-the-valley were starting to whiten up their flower spikes with the tepals of their tiny flowers, while the plants known as twisted stalk were putting out lines of their own little bell-shaped flowers along their stems, like pennant flags at a used-car lot. A bit of plant anatomy here: Just as petals surround a flower’s seed- and pollenproducing organs, the sepals surround the petals. Sepals are usually green, though petals may be any color. Before the flower opens, sepals cover and protect the developing petals. When petals and sepals are identical in form and color, they are just called tepals instead. Class dismissed. Between wintertime, when the forest floor is relatively bare, and summer, when the place is rank with flowers and tall growth, there are a few weeks when just a few wildflowers are out and blooming, when the place is lush and green and not too complicated. I call it Lily Time because most of our local wildflowers in the lily family tend to bloom then. Plant blooming times aren’t chained to a calendar. Some years the blooming season starts earlier, some years later. Some years many weeks pass before a plant species goes from flower to seedpod, and some years it seems to happen quicker. This is one of those latter years: things were happening fast. TRILLIUMS ARE THE first of our lilies to bloom and have the largest flowers. The flower consists of a whorl of three large white petals alternating with three smaller, green sepals. The petals start out white, but gradually turn wine-red with age. It’s not unusual to run across folks who claim the red-petaled trilliums are a different species. You can confound those people by

pointing out that if they would merely hang around and watch, they could actually witness the white trilliums change their species. Less well-known are the fairy bells, probably because their flowers are much smaller and hidden from casual view. Ours are Hooker’s fairy bells—large herbs up to two or three feet tall, but spare and sparsely branched. Teardrop-shaped leaves up to four inches long attach to the stems at intervals, on alternate sides. A two-foot fairy-bell plant might have only a dozen branch tips, and half of those might lack flowers. The small, white, bell-shaped flowers hang down from the branch tips in pairs, hidden beneath the outermost stem leaves. Twisted stalks look a lot like fairy bells, but the twisted stalks grow larger and have flowers not just at the branch tips but all up and down the stems. The leaves of twisted stalks flare out around their bases and appear to clasp the stem, giving this species the common name of clasping-leaf twisted stalk. A fine large pair of twisted stalks grows on the creek banks up at Saw Springs. False lilies-of-the-valley are a big part of the show. You’ll see them as soon as you pass William’s Meadow and enter Muir Woods. Their dark green, heart-shaped leaves sometimes blanket the forest floor so densely that it feels like you’re walking in salad. AS LILY TIME begins to wane, Saxifrage Time waxes: fringe cups start to bloom, followed by mitreworts, and then thousand mothers. Each of these plants sends up little sticks of flowers from remarkably similar tufts of basal leaves. Whereas our lily flowers have simpleshaped white petals or tepals, the flowers of saxifrages are host to fantastically shaped petals. Fringe cup has tiny petals that are strap-shaped, like long tongues, and fork into many outer tips. They spill over and hang out of the cup-shaped flowers like so many miniature snakes’ tongues. Like trillium petals, they turn red with age. Thousand mothers (also called youth-onage or piggyback plant) have little flowers that almost defy description. When I look at them, I see dragon heads sprouting Salvador Dali mustaches from upper and lower lips. But to judge by the name, somebody somewhere must have seen little mothers all lined up, stuck to the stem by their heads. OF ALL THE FLOWERS I saw that day at Saw Springs, I think I like mitreworts the best. Their petals are like long, thin crosses with not one but many crossbars. Each minuscule petal tip is tapered to a point and the

ON A WALK THROUGH THE WOODS at the Graydon Reserve, Bob Hubbard points to a stand of thousand-mothers plants (piggyback plant). Or could it be fringe cup? The two can look remarkably alike to the untrained eye. overall look is more like a feather than a petal. Even though the whole five-petaled flower is only about half-an-inch wide and the plant is barely six to eight inches tall, it’s well worth the effort to seek these flowers out and put a magnifying glass to them. Lily Time and Saxifrage Time go together well: their flowers all bloom in a contiguous stretch of time, and each species brightens the forest in its own unique way. If you miss one flower’s blooming time you still might catch another’s. I roamed a bit more, noticing ever more wildflowers: bleeding hearts, candyflowers, violets, bittercress, devil’s club, enchanter’s nightshade, salmonberry, foamflower . . . . I was flirting again with information overload, so I found my way back out to the driveway, the world of humans, and dinner.

THE DISTINCTIVE three-petaled trillium is an early spring favorite in the Northwest.





Kathleen climbs to the hut.



Nick and Krista share a secret.

Anya and Sarah play while Jonelle works.


Cocoa takes a break.



Payton stands at the center of it all.

An autumn stroll.



A free-flowing fall day.

Jordan and Brad laze about. Don with his beloved rocks.



Don and Jonelle high above the river.


Waiting for its next climber.


Jim strikes a pose.



Jacque and Nita gaze in wonder.

Henriette and Andy bathe Graham.


Foxglove rise behind a field of sweet William.


Yellow iris line the pond stream. E





Belly up to the bar.

Alpine splendor awaits at the end of the Serene trail

Lake Serene. The name alone makes you yearn to be there. But this high mountain lake is much more than a pretty name. Its spectacular place beneath the awesome eastern ramparts of Mount Index make it among the most prized of Cascade lakes. Hike through the snow in May and watch from the lake as avalanches pour off the cliffs

THE LAKE SERENE trail takes hikers to a dramatic basin beneath the east walls of Mount Index. The main trail ascends steep forest to the lake. A spur trail leads to the base of the upper falls. An old scramble route (dotted line) ascends from the upper falls (for the fit and adventurous only).

and snowfields that rise 3,500 feet to the Index summit. Hike in summer to bask in the immensity of the setting. The lake is serene, but you won’t find serenity there on a sunny weekend. The fine trail completed a decade ago attracts naturehungry lowlanders by the dozens. Try to go on a weekday. If you must hike on a weekend, start early. To get to the trailhead, start at the Index General Store. After stocking up there, drive back to the main highway, U.S. 2, turn right and cross the bridge over the river. Turn left immediately past the bridge onto Mt. Index Road. Take the right fork in less than half a mile and pull into the parking lot. (You need a parking pass, available for sale at the store, or park along Mt. Index Road.) FROM LOW IN THE Skykomish Valley, the trail climbs 2,000 feet to the lake in about four miles. The first mile or so follows an abandoned roadbed, crossing a stream near the start. If you don’t like the narrow, angled footbridge (no railing), just rock-hop across the stream. Soon after leaving the roadbed and entering deep forest, a right fork in the trail climbs steeply in half a mile to the base of the main Bridal Veil Falls. Head on up if you want a close look at the most dramatic of the falls fed by Lake Serene. From the base of these upper falls, an old fisherman’s track ascends sharply to the lake. Old-timers who know the track sometimes

Citizens go to work, and a park is born FROM PAGE ONE

chainsaws went to work? The answer is yes, but only after residents led by Louise Lindgren ignored the odds and set to work like the Little Engine that Could. Across the river from Index town, the forested ridge dominates the lower half of the view, with that behemoth Mount Index high above. A huge denuded hillside would not be a pretty sight. Owners of the ridge put their clearcutting plans on hold to give the town one year to find the money. Donations trickled in. But you can’t raise a million dollars from barbecues, raffles, T-shirt sales, and bluegrass hoedowns. Louise and her hardcore activists also blitzed the media, government officials, potential big-money donors, conservation groups, anyone and everyone who could help the cause. The 8


Association of Professional Book Indexers took a fancy to the town’s name and sent $500. The breakthrough came with a halfmillion-dollar gift from an anonymous Seattle donor. And they went over the top August 4, 2008, when the Snohomish County Council voted to contribute $700,000. Heybrook Ridge will now become a county park. HERE AT THE Graydon Reserve, we’re bounded high on the north by land set aside for Forks of the Sky State Park and on the south by the Skykomish River. No room for Costco or WalMart. The North Fork of the Sky is not a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, but it most certainly is a wild and scenic river. From our house, we hear the kayakers and rafters shouting as they ride

the whitewater past Emily’s Park. Government constraints on such activities as tree cutting and habitat destruction give considerable protection to the river. I found this out rather abruptly some years ago when the state forester ordered my contractor to stop cutting trees near the river, where I wanted an open picnic area. I got off without a fine but had to come up with a revegetation plan. With the state’s current budget woes, there’s no telling when Forks of the Sky State Park will be developed. We don’t mind. The steep forests are wonderful as is. And on the river we have our own park, a half-acre with a frisbee field, firepit, picnic tables. Emily Graydon, born a century ago, would have the time of her life in the park named in her memory. [DON]

take this scramble route up and the tourist trail down. A short distance beyond the trail fork, hikers on the main trail reach a footbridge that affords a fine view of Bridal Veil Creek as it plunges over a large lower falls. A bit farther on, you’ll come to yet another impressive cascade, a channel of the creek that pours over great smooth rock slabs. For the next mile and a half, the trail switchbacks relentlessly up and up. A long traverse near the top takes you to the lake basin. You’re in a new world here, quieter, calmer than on the exposed trail. Cross the long log bridge over the lake’s outlet for a walk along the northern edge of the water. When the trail starts to head steeply upslope, keep going. You’ll arrive in a few minutes on the big rounded Lunch Rock that rises from the lake, the perfect place to sit and savor the scene. For climbers, Lake Serene is only the starting point. Technical climbers with an eye on the North Peak of Index continue on up the northern shoulder to the start of the climb. Adventurers aiming for the easier (but not easy) scramble route to the main peak will hike all the way around the lake (or walk over it during freeze-up), climb the steep ridge at the end of the lake, then make their way to the base of a great chute, or couloir, that climbs another 1,300 feet to the broad open ridge that leads to the summit. THE LAKE SERENE TRIP is only one of many glorious hikes around Index. Favorites for family hikes are Wallace Falls, Barclay Lake, Heybrook Ridge and Tonga Ridge. More ambitious day hikers trek to Eagle Lake or Malachite Lake. Some of the prime hikes, like the trails to Blanca Lake and Cady Ridge, are now less accessible with closing of the IndexGalena Road due to flood damage. Folks who like some routefinding challenge in their hikes try the rough trails to the Index Town lookout and the top of the upper Index Town Wall. Starting at the Graydon Reserve are short, strenuous ascents to the Skyview and Highview lookouts. Mountain scramblers take on the standard routes up Mount Persis, Mount Baring and Merchant Peak. For a bit of technical challenge, there’s Gunn Peak and Mount Index. I’d be happy to point the way to any of these hikes or climbs. I might even tag along. [DON]

Check out the endless hiking possibilities in the neighborhood in “55 Hikes Around Stevens Pass,” from Mountaineers Books, by Rick McGuire with photos by Ira Spring. Buy a copy, or read the one at the reserve.

Extremely Important Information INDEX ARTS FESTIVAL


The annual Index Arts Festival fills downtown Index (the whole block) with arts and crafts, music, food and more art. Saturday, August 1, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Barbara Kingsolver and her family set out to spend a year eating only the food they could grow or buy locally. In beautiful prose Kingsolver outlines our national ―eating disorder‖ and tells how she found a better way to eat. [LISA and DANA]


This week’s special: Help create the Serpentine, a monumental piece of land art in Emily’s Park, using the mounds of flood debris collected over the past 12 years. Saturday, July 4, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. No experience necessary.

Ongoing opportunities: Garden the climbing crag with wire brushes, from ground or on rappel. Bushwhackers special: Help discover a new route from the hut to the Dark Tower. For the very hardy. Splash the interior of Cantina del Rio with gallons of gaudy color. Cerveza? Of course.

CHEAP SKATES Randonee alpine touring skis. Kahru 175 cm skis with Ramer bindings. Good gear, fine shape, 14 years old, lightly used. $85. 20-inch Stihl chain saw, model 034 AV Super. With chains, files, case. Excellent shape, though not run in several years, so will need cleaning and tune-up. 18 years old, but it is a Stihl. $100. Four-step collapsible stairs, for entry to a small camper. Heavy hammered metal, with bracket. Free to a good home. Contact Don for all. 360-793-9148


”This place is peaceful, cozy, green, and a great place for kids!”

Preaching the Blues, with Johnny Horn. Sundays 9 a.m. to noon, FM 90.3. Mellow blues, new and old. Music, not commercials. [JORDAN] Ode magazine. A hymn to the possibilities for individual and social progress. Ode tells the success stories of people and ideas that make a difference. [JOANNA] The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science. Baffled by science? Let New York Times science writer Natalie Angier make you actually care about—maybe even understand—physics, chemistry, biology, geology and astronomy. [PAUL] Roman Holiday. Gregory Peck is the newsman who finds his princess in this sad and funny film about yearning, duty, love and heartbreak. Has anyone else ever been as sweetly beautiful as Audrey Hepburn? [DON]

OUR WORLD ON THE WEB Index town: N. Fork Skykomish: Index artists: Wave Trek: Washington Climbers Coalition:


● More dismal rainfall statistics ● Bob Hubbard’s beetlemania ● The Serpentine revealed ● Italian stew recipe ● The latest natural disaster ● Secrets of the Swirl ● Relativity explained (if space permits) SUMMER 2009


Secrets of a wetland garden Be patient, humor the deer and wear high rubber boots


ike any gardener, I have a need to fill in the empty spaces with things that are lovely to look at, delightful to know, and heaven to smell. (Sounds like that old song, doesn’t it?) This has become particularly true with our wetland garden. In our lower front yard, water flows much of the year. It comes as runoff from Deer Creek Plateau and apparently from an underground spring. The spring was once an improved water source for someone (probably early twentieth century), as evidenced by a ten-foot-long timber and a small rock wall, uncovered several years ago when Don cleaned the muck out of the upper part of the wetland and built a pond. In taking on the challenge of gardening in a wetland, I’ve learned a number of things:

Flowing water plus heavy, frequent rains equal a need to replenish soil. Otherwise, all that remains in the wetland is granular granite and algae.

If you have a favorite alpine wildflower, don’t expect it to appear the same if you transplant it or buy one from a nursery and plant it down at an elevation of 600 feet.

It’s beneficial to your health if you wear high rubber boots and learn to balance with your feet and one elbow on three rocks, each at a different height. It’s been a pleasure to find both native and non-native plants that like the wet habitat. While the areas surrounding the wetland abound with bleeding heart, spring beauties, forget-me-nots and Indian plum, the only original flowering plants in it were the piggybacks and dandelions. We gradually added more color than was provided by those and by the native grasses and rushes. Now when our late spring finally arrives, and on into the fall, we gaze on patches of bright blue ajuga, marsh marigolds, skunk cabbage (yes, we love both the leaves and the aroma), deep pink candelabra primrose, yellow water iris, deep blue Siberian iris, crimson flag, turtlehead, spiderwort, hostas and ligularia. Deer fern, sword fern and other ferns add foliage interest. Some plants thrive under adverse conditions: snow, flood, drought, rocky soil. In fact, it may not be a good idea to transplant them 10


THE BEAUTIES of the wetland garden include Siberian iris (upper left) and (above) the quieter pleasures of purplish spires on the tall royal pickerell, deep-red lobelia cardinalis and pink turtlehead. Vying for attention below are skunk cabbage, marsh marigold, and a swallowtail butterfly on the blossoms of the ligularia.

into a gentler habitat. My experience with transplanting marsh marigolds (my secondfavorite wildflower) from an alpine home into our low-elevation wetland was an eye opener. They flourished the rest of the season. The next spring: nada. No sign of them. Next I resorted to a nursery-purchased marsh marigold. For three years it has been rewarding me with a mass of lovely blooms. But the big blowsy bush bears only a little resemblance to the pristine, ground-hugging plant we see in the sparkling early-spring runoff in the wild. Thus during a recent nursery visit, I resisted the urge to buy a pot of my favorite—the mountain pasqueflower, or western anemone. I’ll await the thrill of seeing it poking up out of the snow on a high mountain hike. Our only unwelcome residents are the buttercups that keep trying to take over and the slugs that chew up the ligularia, hosta and marsh marigold. Although I gave up on showy scarlet lobelia cardinalis after two roaming deer chomped the plants to the ground, I admit it’s fun to take photos of the lovely creatures before I shoo them away to Penny Lane. You may be familiar with a rose named Sheer Bliss. When little blue butterflies use the ligularia flowers as mating grounds and swallowtails flit through the garden to the sound of the water flowing from the pond, the wetland garden is a wonderland. Then I think of that rose. [JONELLE]

How not to build a hut It seems to me you have two options for building a little getaway hut on your own property:

1. Buy a storage shed at Home Depot and have it delivered. Paint it pretty, then bring in a cot, a few chairs and a cooler. Have your friends over that evening for beer and a barbecue. 2. Find an inaccessible location high on the cliffs at the back of your land. Build a trail to the site. Off and on over the next five years, haul Quikrete in your backpack for foundation posts, drill holes in the rock for more supports, hand-carry beams and lumber and windows and tin roofing up a quartermile of switchbacks, and build a tiny cedar hut at the brink of a 40-foot granite cliff. Pop open a brewski and take in the views of river and mountains. Then head back down for another load. I picked option number 2. It was more than worth it. Now the hut welcomes visitors throughout the year who

enjoy a bit of hiking for the reward of spectacular scenery along with their wine and cheese on the deck. I use the hut as a base camp for my trail-building and explorations even higher up the slopes. The hut is put together like a tiny RV or sailboat. In a room barely 10-by-10 you’ll find a dining table, pantry, bookshelves, twoburner stove, cooler, sink, chairs, double bed, floor cabinets, gas heater, and lots of bedding and kitchen gear, wine glasses included. (The outdoor toilet is a bit farther up the trail.) The official name is the Baring Hut, for the distinctive double-summit peak to the east, Mount Baring. It’s also a climber’s hut, supplied with ropes, harnesses and carabiners for folks who want to try their hands and feet on the near-vertical west wall of the hut cliff. Of course I didn’t create the hut alone. Here are my helpers (listed in the category where they gave the most help): Construction Bill Poulson Andy Graydon Pete Bjordahl Climbing-wall cleaning Jens Hauch Jerrett Harms Ron Hobbs Warren Wilson Penny Giering Tree-cutting Jim Burgess Dan Finley Toilet-seat painting Anya Henning MOUNT INDEX presides over Sarah Witzel Jonelle’s breakfast on the deck. Contributions Windows: Dick and Beth McConaughy Door: Paul Giering Lumber: Paul and Lisa Witzel Tile: Twila Gagnon Lamp: Tom Morgan Water barrel: Dana Kemmerling, Jordan Rabinowe Climbing rope: Dan McLaughlin Lantern: Ann Urich Lumber, countertop, construction, painting, trailwork, etc. Jonelle Kemmerling Overnight reservations 360.793.9148 [DON]

JIM GRAYDON NEVER walks when he can climb. Here he scrambles the south cliff below the hut, heading for the climber’s gate in the deck railing.

Vandalism at the Reserve!

Teenagers! Beavers! Mother Nature!

WHICH IS WORST? A board on top of the newly painted yellow picnic table was broken at the end, clearly the work of vandals. Nearby, a big upright sitting log had been cast down, and one of the Emily’s Park swing seats had been torn off the rope. Perhaps worst of all, someone had cut down a small Indian plum tree. Then the next day, another tree cut down, this one a young cherry. Jonelle discovered the culprits. Not teenagers. Beavers. The family that built the dam just down the road from us was roaming afield in search of food. After consulting the experts, we spent $45 on wire mesh fencing and wrapped it around the trunks of favored trees: a few cherries, a couple of apples, some vine maple, and a nice cedar. Now we wait and see. Meanwhile up at the hut, another vandal was at work. From a scar in the cliffs less than 50 feet east of the hut, Mother Nature loosed a granite boulder that upended an old log and blocked the entrance to the Path Less Traveled. An earthquake in 2001 created the original scar. Beaver: Teenager: Christopher J. Menning, Mother Nature: Qczma,




Now you see it, now you don’t

RECURRENT RUMORS of heavy rainfall in Index appear to be true. These monthly statistics for 2005 through 2008 plus the first five months of 2009 are from the home rain gauge of Index resident David Cameron.

THE BIG BOULDER known as Beer Rock appears and disappears at the whim of the river. On May 30, competitors in the Trioba adventure race had to go over or around the submerged rock. But last summer, Anya Henning just swam to it and climbed on board. Until November 6, 2006, Beer Rock rested placidly on the shore at Emily’s Park. The great flood of that day sent it about 80 feet downstream and out into the current, where it sits today.


Use this handy guide to find your way here from anywhere in the cosmos

N. Fork SkykomishRiver

NGC 1333 nebula: Stephen Leshin (then manipulated).Earth from space: Reto Stöckli, Nazmi El Saleous, Marit Jentoft-Nilsen. State map: USGS. Index aerial: Google Earth.

Parallel Universe #1  

Highlights of the Graydon Reserve in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle, on the Skykomish River