September is usually the best month for hiking in the Cascades. The trails are free of snow, and both tourist and mosquito levels have diminished. This year has become a down year for hiking, however, with the extended drought bringing on our worst fire season ever. Ever! We all hope that the rainy season will begin soon after the equinox instead of its usual start sometime in October.
I had an enlightening experience on a recent camping trip. We were in a large campground where firewood has to be purchased in bundles of fairly large chunks. A hatchet or axe is needed to split off some kindling to start a fire. The first morning, I heard a loud “thwack-thwack” soon after daylight. I was brought to a full awakening with a resentful thought. “What idiot is chopping wood this early in the morning?” It kept up for over 20 minutes, so I stumbled out to seek the campers who were so rude. My resentfulness turned to amusement when I discovered the thwacks were from Douglas fir cones being cut by squirrels from tall trees and dropping onto the roof of the campground restroom. An epiphany came with the realization there was nobody to be mad at; here was simply a sound of nature to accept gracefully.
With our interior valleys so dry and hot, September will be a good time to visit the Oregon Coast to explore tide pools, hike coastal trails and visit marine science centers. It’s always much cooler on the coast.