At 2 o’clock on a recent Friday afternoon, the parking lot at the Mailbox Peak trailhead was almost full. This much was to be expected: Mailbox is a popular hike in the Middle Fork Valley, just outside of North Bend, Washington.
“I was just glad we got a parking spot,” Jason Gobin, a member of the Tulalip Tribes and their fish and wildlife director, said.
But, when Gobin was a kid, the Middle Fork Valley wasn’t like this. It didn’t have a paved road or fancy outhouses. And there weren’t many hikers. Back then, Gobin and his uncles hunted elk and bears on these lands.