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  • Writer's pictureEdward Leonard

There is so much for me to learn - Snoqualmie River Stillwater Unit - 23 June 2024

This morning I headed out for a short outing hopeful to see an American Bittern or a Red-eyed Vireo. It was a quiet Sunday with only a couple of people on the trail. At the Faye Unit part of the trail, I met a very knowledgable woman. She was very friendly and eager to share. She showed me a Bullock's Oriole nest on the side of the trail. Then she did a deep dive into gear. She wanted to know what camera I used and she described the various equipment she used. She talked fast and I felt dizzy as she discussed her gear and her recommendations on the best way for me to upgrade my gear. She even offered for me to borrow some of her equipment so I could try before I buy. Who does that for a random stranger you just met and have been talking to for less than 30 minutes?

Later, she led me to the other Bullock's Oriole nest featured in the photo above. I was extremely impressed by her knowledge and appreciated she was willing to share it with me. It made me think about how much I have to learn. I mean I couldn't answer simple questions she had about my gear like what shutter speed I was using. At work, I pride myself on knowing the details, but there are so many areas outside of work where I've only gained surface level knowledge. In learning about birds, I've aquired so much more appreciation for the world around me. I want to expand my knowledge. I want to get more out of the world around me. This summer, with my break from work, I am going to spend some time focusing on expanding my knowledge on fauna and flora. I also want to get to know the gear I use to get more out of what I have.


And now for what Chatgpt says about this spot (some of my comments in italics):

Exploring the Serenity of the Snoqualmie River Trail: Stillwater Unit

In the lush, verdant landscape of the Pacific Northwest, the Snoqualmie River Trail winds through one of its most tranquil and picturesque segments: the Stillwater Unit. Located near the small town of Carnation, Washington, this section of the trail offers a serene escape into nature, showcasing the timeless beauty of the Snoqualmie River and its surrounding habitats.

As you arrive at the Stillwater Unit, the first thing that greets you is the sense of peace and solitude (actually the first thing that greeted me was a burned out car in the parking area.) The trailhead is easily accessible, with ample parking and clear signage, yet the area feels like a hidden gem, often overlooked by the hustle of more popular destinations. The trail itself is part of a larger network managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, designed to protect and preserve the rich ecosystems along the Snoqualmie River.

Stepping onto the trail, you are immediately enveloped by a canopy of towering trees, primarily a mix of alder, cottonwood, and evergreen species. The air here is fresh and cool, filled with the earthy scents of damp soil and pine needles. As you walk, the sounds of civilization fade away, replaced by the gentle rustling of leaves, the distant calls of birds, and the soothing murmur of the river.

(actually, the trail parallels a very busy road and the sound from rushing cars is ever present.)

The Snoqualmie River Trail at the Stillwater Unit meanders alongside the river, offering numerous vantage points to admire its calm, meandering waters. The river is a lifeline for the region, supporting a diverse array of wildlife and providing a vital corridor for migratory fish. Along the trail, interpretive signs provide insights into the area's natural history, highlighting the importance of the river to the local ecosystem and the efforts to protect its health and biodiversity.

Wildlife enthusiasts will find the Stillwater Unit particularly rewarding. The dense riparian habitat is home to a variety of bird species, making it a prime spot for birdwatching. During your hike, you might spot bald eagles soaring overhead, great blue herons fishing in the shallows, and a multitude of songbirds flitting among the trees. The trail’s proximity to the river also makes it a good location to observe beavers, otters, and occasionally deer grazing near the water’s edge.

The trail is relatively flat and well-maintained, making it accessible for hikers of all ages and abilities. Its gentle terrain allows for a leisurely pace, encouraging visitors to take their time and fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty around them. Benches and rest areas are strategically placed along the path, providing perfect spots to sit, relax, and soak in the serene landscape.

I don't think I've seen any benches or areas to sit ever along this trail.

One of the most enchanting features of the Stillwater Unit is the changing scenery throughout the seasons. In the spring, the trail bursts into life with the vibrant colors of blooming wildflowers and fresh green foliage. Summer brings long, warm days perfect for exploring and enjoying the shade of the towering trees. Fall transforms the landscape into a tapestry of golds, reds, and oranges as the leaves change color, creating a picturesque setting that is ideal for photography. Even in winter, the trail holds a quiet, stark beauty, with the possibility of frost or a light dusting of snow adding a magical touch to the surroundings.

For those interested in fishing, the Snoqualmie River at the Stillwater Unit offers excellent opportunities. The river is known for its healthy populations of salmon and trout, drawing anglers who appreciate the challenge and reward of fishing in such a pristine environment. Fishing here is not just a pastime but a way to connect deeply with the rhythms of nature.

The Snoqualmie River Trail at the Stillwater Unit is more than just a hiking destination; it is a place where the natural world and its rhythms can be experienced up close. It offers a respite from the pressures of daily life, allowing visitors to reconnect with nature and find peace in its beauty. Whether you are an avid hiker, a birdwatcher, an angler, or simply someone seeking a quiet place to reflect, the Stillwater Unit provides a perfect escape into the heart of Washington's natural splendor.

I've never seen anyone fishing in this area. Many bike riders woosh along the trail and there are plenty of other bird watchers. It is lush and well shaded. Overall it is a great stop for a short sunday morning outing.

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