Newspaper Archive of
The Issaquah Press
Issaquah, Washington
September 28, 1983     The Issaquah Press
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September 28, 1983

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by Rodi Shemeta Ludlum There were only two things I worried about before embarking on my innertube float down Issaquah Creek -- cold water and hard rocks. But the true perils of the creek remained hidden until it was too late to save myself. Read carefully then, and discover the many pleasures of Issaquah Creek. They greatly outnumber the perils. I had a romantic vision of riding the water right down from the base of Tiger Mountain, through the narrow valley between Tiger and Squak mountains, along the backyards of downtown Issaquah, under the freeway and finally into Lake Sammamish. I figured this would take me, oh, an afternoon. I wisely did not begin in the mountains, but embarked at the corner of May Valley and Issaquah-Hobart roads. It was just me, my shoes, a bathing suit and T-shirt and my , big, brand new $11 innertube from Big O Tires. I waded over the slippery rocks to the middle of the rushing creek and squealed as I sat down in the icy water. I was all set to go leaping and charging down the waterway. But I didn't move an inch. I was grounded. I got up and walked around to find a deeper spot. My heart was sinking. It was the mid.dle of August -- too late for floating? I walked a ways and tried again. I drifted slowly this time, but was soon grounded again. Much of my journey was bump and grind - bump the ground, grind the gravel. But the creek has a definite main channel and when I could maneuver myself into these elusive runs, I got an exuberant, spinning ride. The creek wanted to turn me around backwards so I couldn't easily see what was coming up. For some reason, the main channel likes to skirt along the very edge of the creek, instead of sta,ing in the middle, where it belongs. As I rushed backwards into one mini- flume, I took a quick look over my shoulder and screamed something unprintable. The next instant, I plunged into a thick curtain of hanging blackberry, vines and was sliced from hair to elbows to knees. I emerged bleeding and too shaken to check where I was headed next. Klunk. I bumped into a tree that had fallen over the creek. Next thing I knew. I was flipped over. The current forced me under the trunk and into more blackberry vines. And there I jammed tight. 1 wouldn't let the tube go and I couldn't pull myself out with one hand. I kind of hoped the current would turn me loose before the >4 DEBBIE BRUSIUS PHOTOS winter floods. After much kicking and squirming and naughty words, I finally wiggled out and burst loose from the tree along with a huge flotilla of liberated sticks and branches and other debris. I paddled to the closest bank and pulled myself out with knees shaking. I was covered headto toe with mud and rotted leaves and a multitude of insects. From then on, I walked around the blackberry vines. I walked around felled trees. I walked when the water was shallow. I did one heck of a lot of walking on my first float trip. An hour and a half after l'd started, l'd gone just over a mile. My husband was waiting at a bridge to take pictures. He was sick of waiting and I was sick of floating. We went home. Sometimes floating requires quite a bit of walking. Sl,  t  had ta at ta _ak 5m":'),5. (::)', " aga'm, l threaded my way cate{uIy through the blackberry vines at the Sunset Way bridge (.this is where l'd seen the kids going in) and resolved to go all the way to the lake no matter what. I knew right away this would be a better run. For one thing, I was doing more floating than walking. The creek as it flows through the backyards of downtown homes is deep and cool and shaded with great canopies of translucent green leaves. I drifted in perfect silence as the sunlight filtered through the trees and sparkled on the water. The waterbugs saw me coming and skated out of the way. Small fish popped out and disappeared with a tiny splash. I tagged after a flock of ducks for many minutes until they spotted me and took off in a panic. With a dip of my hand here and there, I could easily steer myself around branches and boulders. I paddled like crazy at the sight of blackberry vines. But later on, as the day warmed up and I floated into sunny spots, the sweet aroma of blackberries filled the air. Those berries were the size of your big toe. I couldn't resist. Very carefully I picked a few and popped them in my mouth. They were warm and fragrant and bursting with juice. Some time later, I emerged from the trees and was out in the open, rushing by Jay Berry's restaurant. A glider tow plane roared overhead, the only big noise I would hear on the whole trip. Soon I was under-Gilman Boulevard and cruising past the new dentists' offices. Before I knew it, I was going under Interstate 90. l'd wondered if the creek went under the freeway in some sort of nasty underground culvert and worried that the noise would be like driving through the Baker tunnel. But in fact, floating under the major east-west artery in the entire state was pure delight. The water reflections bounced brightly off the concrete walls and the creek weaved in between dozens of graceful pillars. Due to some strange acoustical warp, the traffic only yards overhead was no louder than the distant roar of an ocean. In retrospect, this is probably where I should have gotten out and called it a most pleasant morning. And I pushed on through Pickering Farm and out into the wide open fields leading to Lake Sammamish, the creek was never again as idyllic as it Had been downtown. A couple of dogs came charging after me, hankering to gnaw on my tube. The trees went away and the midday sun burned on my head and shoulders. But my feet and hands were numb from hours in the chilly water. The closer I got to the state park, the more icky the creek became. It stopped moving altogether and iust sat sluggishly. I had to paddle constantly. The water that had been clear as honey was now mucky and brown. The bottom was pure ooze. I paddled through tunnels of trees that shaded out all sunlight and gave the surroundings a damp and gloomy feeling. I smelled cold wet leaves rotting. Trash from thousands of state park visitors wedged into the shoreline. I paddled until my arms ached and chafed on the rubber tube. Just as I was thinking of a headline for my obituary ("Daring editor drowns in six inches of water"), I saw someone wading up the creek. It was my photographer, Debbie Brusius. ("Daring editor rescued by staffer") She pushed and pulled and coaxed and nagged me along that last hour until Lake Sammamish finally opened up before my eyes. Zillions of little kids were paddling around in rubber boats, air mattresses and tubes. I was sure they were all out tc cheer me on after my adventure. l'd been in the water nearly four hours and even though it was 80 degrees out, I was shivering and blue. I wrapped up in towels and sat in the car with the heater on until I could feel my feet and fingers again. At least I had no problems with hard rocks. Ready to go over the falls. Touring the local greenhouses is a lovely way to spend a rainy afternoon in Issaquah. Two major greenhouses are practically across the street from each other at the western end of town: Squak Mountain Greenhouses and Emrick's Fuschias and Begonias. Both are just off the Renton- Issaquah Road, about a mile south of Interstate 90. Squak Mountain has more than an acre of green- houses to wander and sniff your way through. Though there are plants in bloom all year round, one of the most spectacular sights all year is in December, when thous- ands of red, pink and white poinsettias are in full bloom. April and May are also good months to get a good look at the latest spring flowers, especially the hot pink hanging fuchsias, bright geraniums, impatiens and many other annual and perennial flowers in bloom. Across the road is Emrick's, a long-time flower vendor in Issaquah. Plan your trip for spring and summer -- they sell only the warm-weather fuchsias and begonias. In fall and winter you can order wed- ding bouquets or rent fuchsia trees and begonia baskets for other indoor functions. The small greenhouses are stacked floor to ceiling with the huge begonias and delicate fuchsias. Brick walkways lead visitors from one greenhouse to the next. Parking is limited, so plan your trip for early in the morning, before the rush. Squak Mountain Greenhouses are filled with bright poinsettias in December. RODI SHEMETA LUDLUM PHOTOS Brick walkways lead through a jungle of brilliant blossoms at Emrick's. Fuchias and Begonias are in their glory in summertime. O O O O Opening May 1984 Waterslides and Family Fun Exit 15 off 1-90, Next to Lake Sammamish State Park For Information 453-5555 Welcome to Nature's Gallery. Upstairs at Gilman Village you'll find a wonderland of nature's treasures. We have hard-to-find seashells for the collector, wood carvings, Utah sandstone pictures, and excellent fossil specimens. Gilman Village Issaquah 392-8115 Our gallery features gift items from Washington State including petrified wood items from the Gingko Forest, mineals from Sno- qualmie Valley and glass wear made from Mount St. Helens' volcanic ash. Nature's Gallery also offers custom designs of distinctive jewelry, and jewelry repairs.