Saturday, April 12, 2014

North Umpqua Trail (Sections Panther and Mott)

This hike was a lot of work. Not because of the 10.7 up and down miles along the North Umpqua River, but because I was in charge of this Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club venture. We had 32 hikers show up, about half opted to hike the North Umpqua Trail's 5 mile Panther Section with the remaining half opting to tack on the Mott Section for a 10.7 miler. It was so hectic with coordinating rides and shuttle vehicles that it was a relief to set foot on the trail and begin hiking.

Fawn lily, fawning away

I don't think I've ever hiked on the lower sections of the North Umpqua Trail in any other season than winter. I really should visit the venerable trail in spring and summer if this hike is any indication of the woodland beauty available for camera toting hikers to enjoy. On the Panther Section, the trail gently angled upwards and I quickly found myself behind the group, poking my camera into all the trailside shrubbery. Trillium, calypso orchid, snow queen, and wild ginger were blooming all over in the forest; spring has definitely arrived!

Smooth-trunked madrone 
The trail spent most of its miles in deep shade. We could see blue sky above in forest openings, and the bright turquoise waters of the North Umpqua River were simply iridescent when illuminated by the bright sun. Sunbeams filtered through the trees and happy plants sprouted where the beams touched down. A cool breeze kept the temperature just perfect for hiking.

Small little creeklet
Small creeks crossed the trail at various points and foot bridges allowed us to cross over dry-footed. The bridge railings served double duty as makeshift tripods for exquisitely long camera exposures of the creeks tumbling down the hillside. Good thing I lead from the rear because that's where I would have been anyway with all the neat spring thingies to take pictures of.

A perfect day to hike
Basically the trail was crossing across the face of Panther Ridge and at just about halfway, the trail crested across a rocky cliff and began a general descent to the end of the Panther Section. After coordinating the shuttle pickup by yelling at drivers to hop in Valerie's car, I bid adieu to the five-mile hikers and continued hiking forth on the Mott Section, joined by Lane and his son, Colby.

Water under the bridge
The Mott Section generally was closer to the river than the Panther had been and we enjoyed walking in the shade next to the strikingly blue river. The clime here was a little bit drier than it had been on the Panther and the forest was carpeted with salal. We crossed several creeks on rustic bridges, the creeks being large enough to have names.

A brook babbles, just like me!
One such creek was Fisher Creek, so named because the famed author Zane Grey had a fishing camp there, a commemorative sign marks the spot. As an aside, his wife Dolly managed his business, proofread, and edited his writings. It seems Zane Grey and I have a lot in common, except for the fame and fortune thing (or lack, thereof). I'm not sure if his Dolly made him mow the lawn, either.

This picture will make me famous!

After this hike, Timber Creek will always be a special little place for me. Crossing over on yet another footbridge, I took a few pictures of the creek. Later, various pictures from this hike were uploaded to Flickr. The following morning, I found out that the Timber Creek picture on the left was literally seen by thousands as it was featured in Explore, which is Flickr's place for special (in the good sense of the word) pictures. That made my day, and maybe I will someday become as famous as Zane Grey after all.

The North Umpqua River
After 10.7 miles of hiking, we arrived at the Wright Creek Bridge, our end point. Strewn about and resting on the bridge, were the rest of our 10 milers, all waiting for us. Seems like we were not Wright on time. Across the roadway was the start of the North Umpqua Trail's Tioga Section and Lane did not make a lot of friends when he happily stated "Two sections down, one to go!" He was about to get lynched until I interceded by pointing out Lane was our shuttle driver. The one remaining duty as hike leader after that was to get all drivers shuttled to the Panther Trailhead and then get waiting riders picked up. Everybody made it back to Roseburg, or if they didn't, then it hasn't wound up in the newspaper yet which makes this another successful hike in spite of my leadership.

Did I mention it was a perfect day to hike?
For more pictures, please visit the Flickr album.

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