Sunday, July 21, 2019

Timothy Meadow

This was a hike whose purpose was twofold. First, I wanted to scout the Howlock Mountain Trail, since I was due to lead a hike there in about a month's time. Second, I just needed to get my green meadow fix. Well, I guess the purpose of this hike is actually threefold when you consider I like hiking in general, but that purpose can usually be left unstated as it applies to every hike. While I have hiked in the Timothy Meadow vicinity before, I had only laid eyes on the grassy meadow which is just partly visible from the trail, my boots had never entered the actual meadow. So, this was the hike and today the day to do that very thing for the first time!

Every hike should be hot and dusty...not really!
Leaving the Diamond Lake horse corrals, the trail ducked under the Diamond Lake Highway via a dark tunnel and then immediately began to angle uphill through a thin lodgepole pine forest. Lodgepole grows in poor soils, where no other tree will and as a result, a lodgepole forest tends to comprised of thin and scrawny trees, and this forest was no exception. The day was hot, the lodgepole did not provide much in the way of shade, and my feet kicked up small clouds of volcano dust that hung motionless in the still air as I trudged ever upward on the trail while thinking about returning to the cool tunnel and just staying there until the sun set.

Damage done by lodgepole beetles
Despite the seeming aridity of the terrain, low growing and thin patches of grass grew next to the trail, providing some semblance of greenery. The trees were misshapen as their trunks sported carbuncles and boils, probably from overexposure to the sun, if this hot hike is any indication of the customary summer conditions at the foot of Mount Thielsen. In all seriousness though, the warming climate has caused an increase in bark beetle populations and in the form of dead trees, their handiwork was strewn haphazardly about the forest floor, .

Thielsen Creek flows down below he trail
At the three mile mark, Timothy Meadow made a brief and limited appearance below the trail. Hints of meadowy goodness were visible through the trees but mostly Timothy Meadow was hidden from view. Thielsen Creek also made an appearance at the edge of the meadow, snaking back and forth like a watery oscilloscope readout. I really had thought it was a longer hike to the meadow so for a little extra mileage, I continued on to the trail crossing of Thielsen Creek.

Sparkling clear and fresh off the snow melt
Where the trail meets Thielsen Creek, the Howlock Mountain Trail splits into two, the right fork becoming the Thielsen Creek Trail heading to the base of Mount Thielsen, while the left fork continues to the base of Howlock Mountain. The Pacific Crest Trail connects the two trails but I didn't feel up to a fifteen mile hike (with plenty more uphill hiking) today.  

A dusty path through Timothy Meadow
One little item of intrigue though, was an unmarked but well defined trail heading downhill on a forested ridge well above Thielsen Creek. It wasn't on my map or GPS, so where did this enticing trail go? Inquiring boots want to know! Later on, while exploring Timothy Meadow, I noticed a trail emerging from the trees and entering the high side of the meadow, that just had to be the other end of the same trail! However, on this day the trail was left in play, but a future visit on this mystery path is certainly in order.

Thielsen Creek zigs and zags to and fro
Anyway, I backtracked down the Howlock Mountain Trail and grabbed a side-trail leading down into the meadow where I was perfunctorily attacked by vicious predators. In the lodgepole pines, mosquitoes were mildly annoying but apparently Timothy Meadow is the center of the mosquito universe and they were all overjoyed to see me enter the grassy pasture next to burbling Thielsen Creek. Many of them died by my hand that day but many were also well fed before I was able to obtain safety and shelter behind a thick and frantic applique of Deet. Mosquito survival is a numbers game and you just can't slap all of them.

A beautiful scene, except for the ravenous mosquitoes
Down in the meadow proper, my mystery path from before followed the lush and green grass growing next to the clear running creek as it meandered through the meadow. Actually, the meadow is not as large as I had previously thought, but would make a nice place for a backpack camp, just not during mosquito season. Anyway, I wandered through the green meadow, enjoying the pleasing color contrast with the blue sky above.

The hot and dusty trail back home
Because of the relative shortness of the hike, I decided Timothy Meadow would not be the end destination for my upcoming group hike but on this sweltering day, a short hike to a green meadow next to a babbling creek was just fine fine with me. After my arrival back at the trailhead, with me all tired, hot, sweaty, and covered with an unholy slather of perspiration, blood, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, and pumice dust, I was eminently thankful I didn't do the full 13ish mile hike to Thielsen Creek. Although, a restorative dip in the creek might have been just the thing, given my post-hike dirty and overheated state of being.

It was a nice visit to Timothy Meadow
For more photos of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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