Sunday, July 2, 2017

Brice Creek

I had pretty much just started my hike on the Brice Creek Trail when I heard a noise behind me, like the world's biggest elk rampaging through the thick brush. Startled, I whirled around just in time to see a tall tree topple and hit the ground. It was an awesome sight to behold but yikes, I was hiking in a forest full of tall trees and now I couldn't trust a single one to remain upright. You hike enough, you tend to see it all, or so it seems, and this was the second time I've seen a tree fall. Oh well, I'll just have to keep trusting they won't fall on me.

Into the forest
The rest of the hike was uneventful by comparison: it was a very warm day and it seemed like the cool creek vibe and moist ambience was just the ticket for warding off the heat. Didn't really work, it was still warm and humid in the forest but Brice Creek is beautiful anyway, even on a hot and sweaty hike. And while the forest was well shaded, perhaps it was warmer than it should have been because it was now missing one tree.
Hello, Brice Creek!
Ferns sprouted everywhere in the deep shade, and maples (big leaf and vine varieties, both) provided some small relief and succor from the burning ball of fire in the blue sky. It didn't take long for Brice Creek to make an appearance through brief openings in the forest. 

What cold water?
The trail undulated gently, and sometimes not so gently, up and down; alternating from deep forest to open trail either next to the creek or on rocky cliffs that pleased my inner mountain goat. Brice Creek is a popular place and it was easy to see why. Deep pools of blue-green water just invited a swim, although the couple dipping their feet in the water said the water was painfully cold. The temperature didn't deter dogs and young children, though, that particular demographic is seemingly impervious to to the deleterious effects of immersion in freezing cold water.

So inviting
After about 4.5 miles of soothing forest and creek scenery, I turned around and headed back, only to find the peaceful ambience to be somewhat fleeting and ephemeral. Cedar Creek Campground bisects the Brice River Trail and a footbridge from the campground makes Brice Creek (in)conveniently accessible for late sleepers not interested in enjoying Brice Creek via the rewarding medium of hiking. Accordingly, a nearby swimming hole was ringed with hordes of noisy sunbathers and not so many actual swimmers, that water must really have been ice cold.

On a hot day, shade is not overrated
The good news was that about a quarter-mile up the trail from the swimming hole, the population dropped from 323 to 1, and I was back in my element hiking all alone in the woods. By now the day had warmed up and the shade was much appreciated. So much so, that I spent an inordinate amount of time photographing maple leaves lit up by the sun.

Dog Creek, dogs it into Brice Creek
Periodically, I bushwhacked down to the scenic little creek and enjoyed deep blue pools; shallow shoals running underneath the arcing maples; and boisterous cascades as the creek stair-stepped its way down the canyon. Across the way, Dog Creek tumbled into Brice Creek in a photogenic waterfall. And always, a sun-dappled trail wending its way through a shady forest.

A white hyacinth hosts a yellow
velvet long-horned beetle
At the return to the dry grassy slope just a quarter mile from the trailhead, I was momentarily delayed by all the wildflowers, butterflies, and beetles attracting the camera. All in all, a nice hike on a hot day, and I'm glad to report that apart from that one tree, all the other trees in the forest remained standing for the duration of my hike.

Brice Creek, 'nuff said!
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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