Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dry Creek

First of all, Dry Creek was not dry. The hike had been billed as a hike up Dry Creek which would be intermittently dry and wet with "...occasional sections of ankle deep to knee deep water". Actually, Dry Creek was intermittently wet and wetter and yes, there were occasional knee deep and ankle deep sections to go along with the one chest high section. At least there were no sections that were over our heads! Lest this be interpreted as a complaint, I'll go on record stating this was a fantastic hike, wet feet and torso notwithstanding.

Every hike should start like this
Acting upon an invite from trail buddy Toresa, we joined up with the South Coast Striders, a hiking club based in the Coos Bay area. Along with Toresa's friend Jessie, we drove over to a nondescript pullout near Edson Creek County Park along the Sixes River.  A rope was tied to a boat trailer and everybody sort of crabbed down the steep embankment to the river's edge, hanging on to the rope for safety. From there it was a knee deep wade across the river.  So, we'd hiked about 50 yards and already had done some rappelling and some water walking, it already was a great hike!

And every hike should start like this, too!
A short walk on a faint and rough sandy path along the river brought us to Dry Creek, the object of our affections on this hike.  Flanked by dense brush, the only option was to hike up the creek bed, picking out the shallower parts. Most of it was knee deep, causing hike leader Reg to wryly note the tropical storm from two weekends ago had really messed with this hike.  But, hey, the sun was out and the water was rain temp, not snow temp, and the cool water felt good on the legs.

Dry Creek
Thick stands of willow and patches of blackberry brambles discouraged hikers from leaving the creek as we worked our way upstream with occasional island and rocky bar. When we crossed the Rogue River - Siskiyou National Forest boundary, the forest had been left alone and big leaf maples draped themselves over the creek. The maple leaves were turning yellow and reflected nicely over the shaded creek. Moss hung from the branches with some of the drapes nearly as long as I am tall.

Dry Creek wasn't very dry
At one point, there was a deep pool lined by willows and there was no shallow wading here. I sallied forward and each step took me deeper and deeper, and there I was, waist deep in the creek. A branch barred my way and when I took the next step to get around, I was chest deep, frantically holding my camera above my head. I could hear the conversation behind me stop in shocked silence, the unspoken question being "Will it get any deeper?"  At that point, a contingent headed up into the forest in search of a bypass while some followed me, although I noticed they hugged the willow trees to keep the water at a manageable waist height. Even though I was a guest of the Striders, it was beginning to feel a lot like home.

Bridge into the Grassy Knob Wilderness
We ate lunch at a picturesque and slightly dilapidated bridge on a logging road. Dangling our feet over the edge, we dried out socks and boots and generally worshiped the warm sun. Leaves floated idly by in the languid current, matching my mood perfectly. It was an ideal lollygag.

Life drifts by slowly
The bridge denoted the boundary with the Grassy Knob Wilderness. The wilderness is undeveloped and the only official trail I know of is a short path to the top of Grassy Knob itself. Entering the wilderness, we continued on upstream as the creek canyon got deeper and the trees became bigger. The pools were deeper  too, with the deep blue crystalline water allowing us to see occasional small fish swimming around in panic. Frogs also hopped away from the scary hikers, paddling frantically in the water to escape.

Forest fire
After nearly three miles through this sumptuous autumnal feast for the eyes, we turned around and headed back as the shadows lengthened. We got to enjoy the autumn colors draped overhead under a blue sky all over again. For variety, we did try to find a way back overland and got to "enjoy" a bushwhack through ankle-grabbing, leg-raking brush and brambles. Moss, sword ferns, and mushrooms kept camera toting hikers happily entertained despite the travails. When we recrossed the creek, I was happy to perform the water aerobics all over again, hiking down the creek with Toresa and Jessie. Plus, we got to rappel back up to the car! Was this a great hike, or what?

Tiny mushroom on a log
For more pictures see the Flickr album.

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1 comment :

  1. Nice shots of Dry/Wet Creek Richard :) Cheers Robyn :)