Ending Their Lives in Beauty


If not born in this rain forest, Aki has spent most of her life in it.  Nose to ground, tail wagging, she charges up this sodden trail into wind blown rain. I follow, enjoying her enthusiastic display and the new shapes being revealed by dropping leaves.

We climb from Chicken Ridge to the Basin Road Trestle Bridge and then along the steep side of Gold Creek canyon, toward the old glory hole in Perseverance Basin.  On Monday reconstruction work will close the bridge and trail until mid-winter. This is our last chance to catch the fall here.

Deciduous trees, like the muscular Balsam Popular reclaimed this land so recently destroyed by hydraulic mining.  Now bare of leaves, the exposed popular limbs mimic arm flexing muscle builders. Benefiting from the pioneering work of their leafy cousins, spruce and hemlock grow on the hill sides, forcing their roots into cracks between small boulders and bedrock.

On this wet grey day the evergreens provide a monochromatic background for  plants making a weak attempt at displaying fall colors.  Nameless waterfalls, fully charged by rain break over the lip of surrounding ridges to drop hundreds of feet into the forest below.

We follow a seldom used path, now carpeted with rotting leaves to where Gold Creek threatens to wash away the forest ground. Here a shrubby maple grows between two large poplars. Yellow with cranberry red streaking, the maple leaves display great beauty at the end of their life. Sunshine would reveal some of their beauty but it would not rival that escaping through the lens of rain coating each leaf and from a prism drop hanging from this now naked leaf stem.    

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