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The Great Northern Railway leaped the Mississippi River, steamed across the plains, and chugged through the Rocky Mountains.
Just east of Scenic, it crept over its last obstacle, the Cascade Range, through Stevens Pass and down the western slope to Seattle.
Fn Cs are filter-feeders, taking in oxygen and very small pieces of organic matter—mini-plankton and tiny pieces of leaves that were broken down by other leaf-feeders—through one siphon and releasing wastes and indigestibles through the other.
Fn Cs are food for fish, crayfish, aquatic amphibians, waterfowl and shore birds. They are slightly more tolerant of pollution than other clams, and like other Mollusks, Fn Cs like water that is calcium-rich, the better to build shells with.
The concept of a barely-half-inch wingless, aquatic critter starting out in mid-country and taking over America (and the world) is fairly astonishing, no matter how much geologic time you give it, but it turns out that Fn Cs “think outside the pond.” They attach to water plants as tiny juveniles, and the water plants attach to the feet of water birds, and water birds DO have wings.
But the old tunnel still has its ghosts – or does it? Two weeks later, I returned armed with a powerful light, and was able to video an invisible mist of tiny droplets streaming out of the tunnel mouth.
I researched and hiked the old railroad until an unmarked fragment of abandoned highway led me to the west portal, arriving at the tunnel mouth as light dimmed and shadows crept out from the trees. My poor camera had been trying to focus on this flow, and had failed miserably.
Armed only with a cell phone and small headlamp, it was clear that the phrase “…creepy old tunnel…” could have been coined just for this place, with its dark, echoing interior, fallen rock littering the floor, walls oozing moisture, water trickling out of the tunnel mouth, and impenetrable darkness beginning just a few feet inside: As water dripped from the ceiling, I shone my headlamp down the tunnel, and aimed the feeble flash of my cell phone camera into the opening. Later images with a powerful lamp showed this flowing mist as a fine fog, streaming out of the tunnel like an invisible river.
The flash blinked, but the screen showed only a ghostly blur: I looked at the tunnel – I could see clearly 50 feet into the gloom. No ghosts, but this mist and the water flowing out of the tunnel mouth had created a wonderful green, marshy oasis: Naturally, I had some pickle jars in my pack, and naturally, I took some samples of mud and moss to put in soda bottle aquaria. The next evening, the water had cleared, revealing a fibrous bottom of mud, rootlets, and plant fibers.
A haunted old tunnel, a tiny alpine marsh, and tiny creatures that traveled thousands of miles and shouldn’t be there. Protozoological perambulations often lead to offbeat and fascinating destinations, of which Washington’s Iron Goat Trail – No.