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    The Siouxon Trail

    After a few wrong turns off and onto a meandering Washington street, we finally found the Siouxon trailhead. This near-Mount St. Helens hike took us through an old-growth Sycamore forest. The late winter is too early for mushrooms, but we saw lots of beautiful ferns and moss. I don’t really know any varieties besides the Sword fern, Bracken fern, and  the Lady fern, and I’m not sure I could distinguish all three.

    You can actually find this trail in the Gifford Pinchot NF, but it’s close enough to St. Helens to group it in with those hikes. This is the type of hike you fantasize about on a 99 degree day with 100 % humidity — icy pools of mountain water, clear to rocks on the bottom. Makes me thirsty just remembering it.

    Being a fairly flat hike (you gain about 700 feet in 4 miles) makes this one good to do early in the season (if you don’t mind getting wet). A starter hike for the year. No matter what, hiking from October until May is touch-and-go. It can be perfect, like our 75-degree, sunny day at the coast last November, or a nightmare like when I thought I wouldn’t need a raincoat or long sleeves (detoured to a winery so not that bad after all). Hiking in the rain isn’t terrible in the warm weather, but even then, water-soaked pants to socks make you bone-cold and miserable, not to mention you won’t want to stop for the necessary after-hike beer. It helps if you remember to pack some flip flops and a skirt for after your hike. These essentials are pre-packed in my hiking bag all summer long.

    I would do this hike again, but I noticed that the mountain bikers keep this trail busy and muddy, and the pools of water probably draw crowds in the summer. There are a bunch of trails that intertwine with this one, so it might be a good place for a backpacking trip to seek out further on pools with fewer people.

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