Saturday, March 7, 2015

Larison Creek

I'd never hiked on the Larison Creek Trail before and for no other reason than that, Larison Creek became the destination of choice on an early March weekend. After exchanging pleasantries with a mountain biking couple at the trailhead, I sallied forth onto the Larison Creek Trail, looking over my shoulder every 15 seconds or so, fully expecting speeding bikers to run me over. I need not have worried, for a number of fallen trees and a narrow cliffy trail made sure the bikers also got in some quality on-foot time, especially those biking with a wife as a first time cyclist (as was the case with the couple encountered at the trailhead).

Unappealing Larison Cove
Most of the cool stuff, visually speaking, came within the first couple of miles of this hike. The trail begins at Larison Cove, where Larison Creek empties into fjord-like Hills Creek Lake. The water level was well below the trail where the dry and desiccate banks indicate how low the lake's water level is, in an ominous harbinger of another dry summer. The trail hugged a steep and brushy slope that provided views of the mostly empty cove and the fetid waters contained therein.

Real hikers take the bridge on the left
Once past the end of the cove, the trail entered a mossy and well-ferned forest and that would be the theme for the rest of the hike. Larison Creek was always near the trail but remained mostly unseen due to the dense vegetation. However, the burbling of the creek provided a nice counterpoint to twittering birds, chattering squirrels, and one lone hiker talking to himself. 

Larison Creek
There were several use paths that did provide occasional access to the creek and I availed myself of one of them. The creek flowed in a series of stair steps from pool to pool with rock islands inviting a step-across for a better view. Much photography ensued.

My view for most of 9 miles
Leaving these little pools behind, the trail peeled somewhat away from the creek and began to head steadily uphill. At a small crest the forest opened up briefly and offered a limited view of the blue sky above. Since leaving Larison Cove, the sky's presence had been as faint as light from a distant quasar.

Why mountain bikers don't speed on the Larison Creek Trail
The turnaround point was where the trail crossed Larison Creek on a footbridge right before a serious climb to a trailhead on Forest Road 101. Now in the middle of the afternoon, the mountain bikers began to appear on the trail on a more regular basis as they apparently prefer to head downhill on a one-way shuttle ride. They aren't tough like us hikers! However, since the trail was narrow, rocky, and with plenty of fallen trees blocking the trail, the cyclists tended to ride with an uncharacteristic degree of prudence and care. I was not afraid of getting run over, unlike other trails I've had to share with mountain biker crowd.

Rhododendron sprout
So, this hike up Larison Creek was basically a long walk in the woods but it did fit the bill for an easy hike when snow rendered the higher elevations inaccessible. But spending all day in the moss and ferns is a preferable alternative to watching "Glee" reruns on TV. Come to think of it, pouring turpentine on an open wound would be more preferable than watching a "Glee" rerun, but that's beside the point.

Drink out of my evil black cup
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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