Saturday, June 6, 2015

Buck Canyon

It seems like just a month ago that I visited Buck Canyon. Oh wait, I did visit Buck Canyon a month ago. This time however, I brought the Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club with me. The majority of the hikers were at a club campout elsewhere so my little hike was sparsely attended. Or as Lane put it, the hike was like a slow night at the tavern because there were only 7 guys, 1 woman, and a dog in attendance. Sounds like the chorus of what could be a great country song too, in my opinion.

A moldy gray blanket of a meadow
At any rate, we started our hike at the Hummingbird Meadows Trailhead and the first series of meadows were colored an odd gray color due to a thick carpet of flowering blue-eyed Mary. The blue-eyed Marys are half blue and half white but when combined in mass, the net result visually is a moldy gray blanket of a meadow. 

"I'm not falling for that!"
Everybody tried to pick their way carefully across the East Fork Muir Creek but in spite of our care, feet got wet anyway. Julie had a moment where she slipped on a rock and took a spill but thankfully, she was uninjured except for her pride. She also was not willing to reenact the fall so I could get a picture for my blog.

Gawkery at Hummingbird Meadows
A month ago, the sprouting stubble of vegetation at Hummingbird Meadows was only a few inches high and the alder thickets were leafless and twiggy. What a difference several weeks can make! The hellebore nubbins were now knee-high or better and the alder provided ample shade as the trail worked its way through the thickets. One small drawback to the later hike was that there were more mosquitoes buzzing around too, but nothing a splash of Deet couldn't handle.

The best lunches take place in a meadow
Gradually climbing up Buck Canyon, the trail alternated between wonderfully shaded forest and green meadows under blue sky. Mushrooms and other assorted fungi sprouted from the decaying biomass underneath trees, joined by saprophytic (lacking chlorophyll) coralroots. After several miles of this, we arrived at Devils Slide and we all sat on logs in the meadow and ate lunch.

Larkspur was a common sight
This is a fairly short hike, so after eating lunch we all dispersed through the meadows to examine the plant and animal life there. Those with cameras were happily snapping away while those without still enjoyed the meadow exploration despite their handicap. After an hour of this, it was time to head back.

Stonecrop grows in the cracks between rocks
To make the hike longer and more interesting, we took a side trip into the rocky trash pile that is Devils Slide. It was interesting to explore the remnant of an ancient landslide, and some of us were grateful no snakes were encountered in the black rock while some of us were disappointed no snakes were encountered in the black rock. Other side trips involved some off-trail forays through several meadows and feet got wet as we splashed through the mire. 

Part of Hummingbird Meadows
I could go back to Buck Meadows in another month and the hellebore should be blooming like mad and swarms of hummingbirds would rival the mosquito swarms in number. But other trails beckon, so I will make a mental note to hike this in July at some future year. All in all, this was a good hike on a good day and now it's time to go write that country song.

Baby grasshopper
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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