A lush rain forest flourishes on the lower slopes of Mt. Hood
The Palmer Glacier on Mt. Hood is the source of several rivers. One of them is Oregon’s Salmon River, which is a tributary of the Sandy River. In it’s 33 mile run from Palmer to Sandy, the Salmon River passes through the Woodlands, a recreation area adjacent to our campground at Mt. Hood Village. The boundary between the private park and the public park is not fenced, and there are several trails that lead from the campground into the Woodlands. Today we explored them for most of the day.
This is Cascadian rainforest - a cathedral of towering trees, carpeted with ferns. The scenery is mesmerizing - but if you stand too long in one place you’ll take root and start growing moss! Not every species could flourish in these conditions, but the ones that do are healthy and lush.
If Nature’s green is the hardest color for an artist to replicate, then this place is an artist’s nightmare. There is every shade of green imaginable - except the ones in your pallet! It’s as if God were mocking us - saying “There fool - let’s see you paint this!” The Impressionists avoided green as much as possible - except for Pissarro who bought green paint by the gallon. But even Pissarro would have trouble with the Cascades. I can just hear him swearing in French, “Sacre Bleu - impossibile!”
Foolishness aside, the forest is lovely and ethereal, and in July the Salmon River is still running strong. Oregon is working hard to restore it’s salmon runs, and here they have a stream observation station where visitors can look into an underwater stream bed and see wild trout, salmon and steelhead fingerlings in their natural habitat. They are hard to photograph but fun to watch, and we even spotted a gnarly little sculpin sneaking along the bottom as it searched for eggs.
In five years of travel, some of our best and most memorable days are ones we’ve spent hiking our state and national refuges and parks. Today was no exception, and this rainforest will live in our memories for a very long time.