Saturday, January 28, 2012

North Umpqua Trail

The weather has been lousy in 2012, what with rain, snow, floods, and life intruding into my weekends. I hadn't hiked since last year and I can't remember the last time it was 4 weeks in between hikes; I think the prior longest period was the 5 years after my actual birth day. So, when the forecast called for a mostly sunny day, it was time for me and Dollie to get our boots on the trail.

Dollie didn't really want to go, citing cold but in the end she decided to be a good wife and come along. And of course, about a mile into the hike, she slipped on some rocks while crossing a small but relatively deep creek, stumbled around for a bit, and then plopped into the water, lying on her side in the fresh snow-melt like some unhappy and fully-clothed goddess in a Renaissance painting. 

Needless to say, it was all my fault since I made her go hiking and it was a very quiet hike after that. The venerable North Umpqua Trail contoured along the North Umpqua River's canyon walls and we crossed several other creeks without further incident. Thunder Creek was thundering appropriately as it cascaded underneath a bridged crossing. 

The temperature was in the low 40's and Dollie began feeling the cold at the 2 mile mark as she was soaked to the skin. Rummaging through our packs and shedding a couple of layers, we managed to crib together enough dry clothes to effect a total wardrobe change. But nonetheless, her enthusiasm was all wet, so to speak.  As Dollie opted to return to the car with its heater, I bid her adieu and continued on.

The trail crested next to a rocky pinnacle with a magnificent view of the North Umpqua canyon near Fall Creek Falls.  Surprisingly, there was a backpacking campsite right on the pinnacle replete with a fire ring and a log bench. I sense a future backpack trip in the area.

From the pinnacle, it was a long and slow descent down to the river's edge at Fox Creek. On the way down, a mated pair of ospreys flew out of a nearby tree, startled by my arrival. Fox Creek was running pretty strong across the trail and made for a logical turnaround point. After snapping a few shots of a picturesque waterfall, I headed back to the car with a grumpy wife waiting in it.