Monday, October 10, 2016

Muir Creek

This was a short and relatively easy hike. The reason for the lowering of Richard Hike standards was directly attributable to the short-legged youngster walking with me. And no, it wasn't a grandchild, my companion instead was Luna, our new dog. Luna is still a puppy and accordingly has a short attention span, no concept of right or wrong, and will chase a squirrel at a moment's notice. This all makes training her to walk on a leash quite a tedious project with much leash-pulling on her part, and much dog-yelling on my part. 

Huckleberry's autumn blush
Setting out from the Muir Creek Trailhead, the route inscribed a fairly level contour on a forested bench above hidden Muir Creek. Real quick, it was obvious a fair amount of forest had been knocked down across the trail by wind and/or snow. So our first dog-training lesson was learning to wait for the incredibly handsome master to go over the tree BEFORE the dog did. Also important, DO NOT go under the tree when the incredibly handsome master goes over the tree. We had mixed results as far as all that goes but at least we got through it without killing the dog.

Don't look so overjoyed, Luna
At the 0.7 mile mark, the trail dropped down to creek level and crossed over a marshy creek on a large log. This gave Luna the opportunity to wade in the creek below me and both of us were happy in our respective elements. Here, Muir Creek Meadows first came into view and I felt obligated to gawk-stop, much to the consternation of an antsy dog who could care less about the stunning panorama.

At times the trail was extremely faint

Muir Creek Meadows are not traditional meadows in the sense of terrain covered by short grass and wildflowers with Heidi yodeling to her herd of goats. Nope, Muir Creek's huge and expansive meadows are comprised of dense eye-gouging willow thickets that effectively prevent meadow exploration, although the deer and elk seem to get through it just fine. Muir Creek was somewhere in there, hidden from view by the thick vegetation.

Willows going wild
One main theme of this hike was autumn colors and accordingly, the huckleberries and dogwoods glowed red as demon eyes while the willows and alder shone yellow as cowardly lemons. Much photography ensued while an eager dog impatiently waited for her incredibly handsome master to take yet another photo. It's hard to focus on f-stop settings when a warm and slobbery dog tongue intrudes into your ear, just sayin'.

A small piece of Muir Creek Meadows
Because this was autumn, the meadows had a slight yellow tinge to them, just like I did the time I ate an undercooked hot dog. Muir Creek had carved a wide river valley and the forested hills on other side of the canyon were dark and brooding, just like I was the time my brother put itching powder in my bed. All the meadowy scenery lay under clouds that colored the sky gray just like I am, a few days short of my 60th birthday. And the temperature was perfect for hiking, being pleasantly cool like I am, as always!

Muir Creek
The trail basically contoured the wooded edge of the meadows where we experienced a couple of wildlife encounters; that is, if you consider cattle to be wildlife. I was trying to take a photograph of a tawny bovine and the dog was pulling on the leash and making it hard for me to work my camera magic. Finally irritated, I turned to explain to her the error of her ways and was quite dismayed to see that all the leash tugging was occurring because my stupid dog was rolling around in a fresh cow patty. What the...? Some wildlife is wilder than others and it was going to be a long ride home with that coweriferously stinking creature riding in the back seat.

As close as we would get to Muir Creek Falls
The next mile or two were nothing but sumptuous meadow views with occasional overlooks of the pristine alpine stream of Muir Creek snaking its way through the meadows. At mile 2.5, Muir Creek split into the East and West Forks with the East Fork containing the bulk of the water flow. At the confluence of the two forks, the East Fork tumbled down the face of a rocky shelf and Luna and I bushwhacked down to the creek for a better view. Muir Creek Falls requires a wade across for a better look but I eschewed that option on this gray and cool day, much to Luna's disappointment.

Almost looks like an old road bed
The Muir Creek Trail continued on along the West Fork, which was barely a trickle. To continue the hike to Buck Canyon would have required walking on a motorcycle trail so we turned around just short of the intersection of the two trails. Luna by this time was having her puppy exuberance tempered by exhaustion and she was a much more malleable walking companion, excepting the time she spotted a squirrel taunting her from a tall tree trunk.

I was not as lithe and graceful
We got to practice log hopping on the way back again and as I stepped over a log, a vine grabbed my boots, yanking both feet out from under me. On the way down, I tossed my hiking poles and dog leash skyward, freeing  my hands to brace my fall. Oof, I hit the ground with a heavy thud and a dog started licking my face, her expression one of pity. "And I'm the one that needs a leash?" her eyes asked, as she no doubt wondered how we got to be the master race. But at least I wasn't the one smelling like cow butt.

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

1 comment :

  1. Congrats on your new puppy! I'm sure Luna will make a great hiking companion. I sure miss my old dog Bear. He was a Border collie mix and was the best hiking dog ever. We had to put him down this spring, and he was 14 years old.