Squak Lodge Trails: A New Park!

Squad greeted 2015 in a crystal-dripped moss palace.  Veiled in mist, we trucked up Squak Mountain to hike into a new trail being constructed in King County's new nature park, Squak Lodge Trails.  We first worked here back in September with the WA Trails Asscn, the site has an interesting former use.  The kids took up the challenge of grading slopes and shoveling cut & fill, with the usual hardy sword ferns replanted along the sides.  A beautiful afternoon.

Rock Work on a Bridge Approach, Bear Claws and Ferns Ferns Ferns.

The children worked hard hauling rocks in formation for a bridge approach on a trail at Evans Creek Preserve with the WA Trails Association.  It is enjoyable to return to the site of our original Stewardship Squad event as we approach the Homeschool Stewardship Squad's third year in service!   The number of ferns that we have transplanted measure in the hundreds by now.  Krista, our long-time WTA crew leader, aroused the children's rapt attention when she pointed to a tree showing the scratches of a bear's claw, which to everyone's relief were not fresh.

The children's sense of pride and ownership of the wilderness is evident when their forest play includes racing along trails, climbing trees and also commenting on areas in need of stewardship.  Witnessing their sense of responsibility blossom alongside a carefree, satiating pleasure in nature is a lovely thing.

Thank you to Squad-regular Becky Johnston for her reporting & photography, as the Watters Family was forced to spend the morning at the Tukwila Costco Tire Shop.  (We did explore the store's backyard and found quantities of ivy that could really use some stewardship!)

New parkland on Squak Mtn. Creating & destroying a trail. Plus hardhat watering!

King County acquired an interesting piece of property on Squak Mountain recently.  The 226 acres are adjacent to Squak Mountain State Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park (King County Parks) is being converted from a privately held trails and RV campground- it even features a lodge, which will be interesting to follow the development of.  The terrific Trust for Public Land is temporarily purchasing the property to halt the logging planned, so that the County can arranged the funds to purchase it.

Stewardship Squad transplanted native sword ferns / Polystichum munitum alongside new trails created by the Washington Trails Association and in the middle of old trails being decommissioned due to poor design (drainage, grade, etc.).  It was a lovely end of summer day, just after a heavy downpour, so the plants and soil were hydrated enough to transplant- a bit risky until fall rain is steady.  We helped them along by filling our hardhats with water, hauling them up the hill and watering them in.  Great fun!

Fern planting with the WA Trails Association at Evans Creek Preserve.

These kids worked hard on an 80 degree day in May!  They hiked in a half mile through a meadow and hauled great big sword ferns to transplant alongside a new trail.  It was very satisfying to return to the first location that Stewardship Squad ever worked on with our old pal Krista Dooley at the WA Trails Association.  At just 2yo, Evans Creek Preserve is a unique new public park hosting a charming network of trails criss-crossing a large historic property of wetlands, forest and meadow, gifted to the City of Sammamish.

We reviewed what stinging nettles / Urtica dioica look like and wondered about all the fluff floating by.  I knew it was too early for cottonwood and at the end I found the source- a willow species.  My Salix ID isn't stellar, indeed a tricky genus with 50 sp in the best guess is Pacific willow / Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra.

Coal Creek Trail with WTA. Destroying a trail!

This was an exciting work party with the Washington Trails Association because we ruined a trail the first time!  A portion of the Coal Creek Trail on Couger Mountain is often soggy, so this section was re-routed.  We helped to transplant sword ferns / Polystichum munitum directly into the old trail so as to fill it back in.  We had to leave a small path though, as the new section wasn't completely open and indeed trail-runners bobbed and weaved through the kids and the ferns as we worked.  This was our first quite cold event for autumn 2013!  A few headed out early and some had to warm their toes in their packs.  Notable also were the very exciting truck rides up to the work site and brownies shared by another friendly WTA veteran volunteer!