MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS: Rising high in the mountains

EVERY HIKE DESERVES its reward.

When I was a wee boy growing up in Arizona, that was usually a handful of Chips Ahoy cookies.

Now that I’m entering my 30s — aka “The Declining Years” — such plebeian pleasures aren’t enough to salve my superior sensibilities.

No, the mature me demands glistening beaches, picturesque mountain vistas and alluring alpine lakes.

If you want to throw in the occasional malodorous pool of warm water (aka Olympic Hot Springs) or historical structure, that’s fine by me, too.

As I was hiking through trails around Mount Rainier National Park this past week, however, it dawned on me that humanity spends an inordinate amount of time tracking down waterfalls.

Rainier and Olympic National Park are filled with the things, and people trek to them in droves each day.

Exactly why that is I could not find an explanation.

Obviously, we all love beauty.

The idea that one would hike several miles just to catch a glimpse of it in the natural world is hardly earth-shattering material.

I’ve seen an awful lot of waterfalls in my time — sometimes hiking more than five miles into the forest to do so — and it doesn’t seem like one is much different than the other. (Unless, of course, you’re talking about Niagara Falls.)

Is it the idea of seeing geology work in real time?

Does the sound of thrashing white water contain some sort of unexplainable siren song?

Must we impinge upon the sage advice imparted to us by TLC (“Don’t go chasing waterfalls”) in the mid-1990s?

My best guess: Hiking requires a destination, and a waterfall is as good a reason to walk as anything else.

Of course, it could be something else all together. Perhaps I’ll figure it out when I get older.

The 15-year-old me could never quite understand why my parents burned miles of film photographing wildflowers each time we went out for a hike.

But as pressed my face against the Rainier dirt for an up-close snapshot of two avalanche lilies Monday afternoon, I knew exactly why that was the case.

And words cannot do it justice.

Crab slowing?

The opening month of crabbing season in Puget Sound and the Peninsula was met with great fanfare.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

My own experiences inside Dungeness Bay last Saturday lead me to believe that the fishery is beginning to slow down.

After two hours of wading through the eel grass, my friend and I were only able to come up with three legal-sized Dungeness crab.

Considering that we ran into eight keepers in Dungeness Bay during even shorter time frame only a couple of weeks prior, that hardly bodes well.

While some of that could probably be attributed to the limited visibility inside the bay that day, it’s also very likely that the crab population is thinning out.

Given that we’re more than four weeks into the season, that would seem about right for the area.

With the calendar moving into August, expect more crab to begin molting (shedding their hard shell.)

Once that occurs, such crustaceans are hardly worth keeping.

Also . . .

■ Expect coastal cutthroat trout to begin making their presence known in Peninsula rivers during the next few weeks.

That fishery always tends to heat up during the late summer months.

Once September rolls around, rivers like the Sol Duc come alive with caddis hatches, providing a fantastic dry fly fishery.

■ A party in support of seven-day-a-week winter access to Hurricane Ridge will be held at R Bar, 134 E. Front St., in Port Angeles on Saturday night.

The party includes a happy hour with buffet, beer and wine and silent auction from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at a cost of $25.

Admission is $10 after 8 p.m., with bands, special guest DJs, drink specials, raffles and a silent auction.

The premier of Think Thank’s new snowboard movie “Ransack Rebellion” will be shown after 9 p.m.

________

Matt Schubert is the outdoors and sports columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column regularly appears on Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at matt.schubert@peninsuladailynews.com.

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