The last time I was at Lynn Valley was November of this past year. The water was rushing along, coursing over the rocks, the river swollen with a good sized torrent. Upon my return today, it’s a very different picture. Our “endless summer” of hot temperatures, combined recently by volumes of forest fire ash choking the air, has us doing the slow roast, drying out not just the river, but the woods too.

Where before, water droplets hung everywhere, bejewelling the forest, the gentle sound of the rain spattered on my hat and the surrounding leaves, little streams and runoffs trickled by on either side of the path. Really, it’s the PNW at her very best!

Not that the forest has withered away, but there is such a difference when it is this hot and dry for such a pronounced period. Regardless, I spent a couple of hours wandering along, having a great time, enjoying the air and scenery and grabbing a few photos here and there with my iPhone.

Just to prove that there are a couple of streams still flowing, here’s an obliging group of Skunk Cabbage.

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The sunlight above, streaming through the ash cloud, lights up the foliage in places, and plunges the remainder into deep shadows.

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As we see, the water level is dramatically down, a mere ribbon filling a few inches of the river bed.

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The stumps seem desiccated, with none of the usual droplets of water clinging in the mosses.

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There’s a place I love where there is easy access to the river rocks, just below a confluence of two branches. I make for this little oasis on every trip and spend time just sitting, becoming one with the gentle sussuration of the water as it spills over the rocks. It’s a great place to have an energy bar and rehydrate. In the winter and early spring, the water deepens the colour and markings on the rocks, providing a tremendous palette for the eye to appreciate. Now, it is all subdued earth tones, the vividness seemingly leached away by the heat.

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The tree roots too are dry and lack the wonderful deep reds and magentas  that are so striking during the wet season.

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Now for a pet peeve — pun intended — what is it with pet owners that clean up their dogs’ shit and then leave the bag along the trail??? OK, so maybe some of them intend to retrieve it before departing, but, damn, I see tons of these revolting little bags just tossed off the trail, some hanging in the surrounding trees. This is just pure laziness. Sorry dudes, but if you have a dog, clean up after the little bugger, and take the frickin’ bag with you!

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The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”

J. R. R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings

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As the endless summer dozes on, it’s nice to have places like Lynn Valley where we can wander under the canopy and listen to the sounds of the forest and river. Somehow, it just makes you feel cooler.


Photographer’s Note: All images shot on iPhone 6 and processed entirely on iOS.