A trip for both botanizing and site seeing

Arlen Hill | 02 November, 2011

    For a gardener fall can be daunting with the preparation of bedding down a garden but it can also be a time of relaxation.  With most plants disappearing below ground the plant minded person can focus on other things, though for most of us it never goes away completely.  

    This weekend I had the pleasure to visit the Cedar Creek Grist Mill located in Woodland Washington, a picturesque working, historical landmark that I had been wanting to see for some time. It is a few hours drive south from the central sound area of the state.  The fall morning was damp, cool, and foggy but luck was on our side.  By the time we were close to our destination the fog began to rol away and the sun inched its way through.  The last nine miles from I5 to the mill was a pretty, winding drive with rolling grassy fields and farms backed by wooded hills.  As we neared the mill, the road makes its way down through a forest of large Douglas Fir and Big Leaf Maples that are draped with Licorice ferns.  Since we picked a day when the mill was pressing apples for cider there were actually lots of people so we parked a little way away.  To my surprise the woods were quite rich with plants.  In between the Sword ferns were large drifts of Vancouveria hexandra, and Oxalis oregona.  Spotted through the slope on both sides of the road were Disporum hookeri, Smilacina racemosa and I assume Trillium ovatum.  The ditches on the upper side were dappled with Adiantum aleuticum all the way to the mill.

Still crisp but with sun on our backs we waited our turn in line for fresh pressed cider which was tasty and worth the wait.  While in line we looked on to the mill and water fall with complimentary salmon jumping. Inside the mill there are apple grinders hooked up to belts that are powered by the river below.

The mill is open nearly every weekend of the year, and is usually focused on milling corn and wheat into flour.  However from my experience I think that fall is the most photogenic season for the mill.


The Cedar Creek Grist Mill

Since we were in the area we headed north and west about an hour and a half to Mt. St. Helens.  The plants are not of much interest this time of year but the uninterrupted view over the barren blast zone and mountain were stunning, a nice toper to the adventures of the day and a delightful fall excursion.

I always look forward to the time of year when the focus is on plants and every thing else is an added bonus.  But I do enjoy the flip-side almost as much.