Saturday, April 26, 2014

North Umpqua Trail - Dread and Terror Section

It's 1:49 AM, time for all good hikers to be asleep the night before a hike. But on this night, the smoke alarm chirps to announce the death throes of its battery. I didn't even know we had an alarm and Dollie was of no help because a choir of 200 chirping smoke alarms would not have roused her from her sleep. I suffer from no such affliction however, and I turn on the living room lights and search for the accursed chirper.  It's hidden from sight, of course, and silent too. I go back to bed and then it chirps again. After about 15 repeats of this cycle, I finally wake up Dollie and she shows me where it was hiding in plain sight on the mantel. After taking the alarm outside and running over it with the Jeep, I go back to bed.

This is how I appear to the cat
It's 2:11 AM when the cat begins meowing, demanding in that loud self-centered way cats have and I immediately get up and ponder the moral dilemma. Do I let the cat out so I can expediently go back to sleep? If so, what message would I be sending the cat? That we will do his bidding if he is annoying enough? Unwillingly awake and totally pissed off, the remainder of the evening would be about administering cat lessons. I grabbed a squirt bottle and the cat dashed under the couch. No problem, I lifted the curtain on the bottom of the sofa and let loose a spray and a cat dashed out and headed upstairs with me right behind. After a round of administering watery cat justice I returned to bed and minutes later the yowling resumed. Let's just say that for the rest of the night, both the cat and I got our exercise and the living room furniture got wet. I should have run over the cat with the Jeep like I did with the alarm. So, suffering from sleep deprivation, it figures I would leave my hiking boots at home, but who can blame me? 

Dude, where are your boots?
Last January, the Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club had penciled in a hike on the North Umpqua Trail's Dread and Terror Section. However, the hike was canceled due to snow and ice and they went hiking elsewhere while Ray and I attempted an ice hike on the D&T, as we like to call it. At that time, Coos Bay hiking buddy Toresa had driven all the way to Roseburg to do the D&T, and was left wanting. Ergo, we made arrangements to hike the section on this particular weekend in late April.

Wonder why our feet are wet?
Joined by Toresa's Grants Pass hiking buddy Lisa, we set forth from the busy Umpqua Hot Springs trailhead. The Dread and Terror section (starting out from the hot springs trailhead) is one of my favorite sections of the North Umpqua Trail due to the numerous springs and waterfalls crossing the trail, most coming in the first mile and a half. Hiking in tennis shoes, I was more sensitive than usual to the amount of water running across and on the trail.  Oh well.

A creek is born
The first item of interest was a large creek gushing out fully formed just below the trail.  I'd seen this creek tumbling down into the North Umpqua River many times before, but got to experience the wonder all over again through the medium of my hiking companions who appropriately oohed and aahed at the spectacular cascade.

Loafer Creek
Next up was Columnar Falls, a frail and misty cascade spraying over an amply mossed-over wall of basaltic columns. More oohing and aahing ensued. The hits kept on coming with Loafer Creek's (named after me?) "blue pool", Surprise Falls, Michelle Creek, and many other nameless creeks, cascades, and  springs trickling over and under the trail. The cliffs were covered with a healthy green growth of moss and stonecrop with water flowing on the rocky portions of the path.

Moss. trail, and ice cold water
Below the trail, coursed the North Umpqua River, running cold and fast this time of year. On the opposite side of the river loomed basaltic cliffs which were not quite as picturesque as Columnar Falls, but they were still pretty neat looking.

Mr. and Mrs. Calypso Orchid

When not immersing hikers in trailside hydrologic wonders, the NUT undulates up and down in verdant forest where moss reigns supreme. Green was the color as the understory was comprised of salal, rhododendron, oregon grape, and ferns. Wildflowers were in bloom with the early spring culprits such as trillium, calypso orchid, red currant, and woodland violets providing a colorful counterpoint to all the green moss. Professor O'Neill even found a few of the hairy and brown wild ginger flowers for our D&T newbies to peruse.

Skunk cabbage
Shortly after a muddy marsh full of the large yellow spathes of pungent skunk cabbage, I began a search for a Best Campsite Ever candidate. Several years ago, I had run into a perfect backpacking campsite situated next to a scenic bend in the river in a stand of white-trunk alder trees. Alas, I think the river has done some rearranging here because nary a glimpse of the rustic Shangri-la was glimpsed. Ah campsite, we barely knew ye.

This picture says it all!
We turned around at the 4.5 mile mark because my wet feet in my wet tennis shoes were beginning to develop some hot spots, precursors to blisters. One good thing about an out-and-back hike is we get to enjoy the same spectacular scenery again. The only change on the way back were the thick clouds scudding over as the temperature dropped. At the end, Lisa and Toresa both expressed their appreciation for the scenic hike which is what it's all about. A storm was coming in and the rain started on the drive home. On the way home, I purchased a Super Soaker in preparation for unfinished business between the cat and I. Let the yowling begin!

Cliff time!
For more pictures of this hike, put on the wading shoes and visit the Flickr album.

1 comment :

  1. Richard, nice pictures, as always, and good luck with the cat!
    Camping spots? I've spent several nights very happily at the Blue Pool. Mosquitoes don't like the spray (handy fact.) And there is a fine camp under a bluff several miles past your turnaround point. Not much else that I recollect, however. I don't recommend the spot where the trail comes back down to the bridge across the river below Lemolo: very rocky. (I've spent too many nights on this NUT section)