Saturday, October 29, 2016

North Umpqua Trail - Marsters Segment

"X marks the spot" they say, even though I don't know who "they" are or why we listen to what "they" say, or even how you get to be a member of all-knowing "they". But for the purpose of this inane blog posting, the X-spot being referred to is where the North Umpqua Highway and the North Umpqua Trail switch sides of the North Umpqua River, with the crossover taking place at Marsters Bridge. The X also marks the spot where I began two hikes in two days on one North Umpqua Trail.

Trail tread
On the North Umpqua Trail, the Marsters Segment is yin to the Jessie Wright Segment's yang. You'd sort of figure they'd be pretty much the same but no, they do have their differences as well as some similarities. It's kind of like my brothers and I, we come from the same gene set but I wound up with good looks, athletic ability, and brains while they got a totally awesome big brother, but I digress. The Jessie Wright Segment runs on the sunny side of the North Umpqua River and ambles below some impressive geologic pillar formations. The Marsters spends a lot of shady time in lush forest way above the river. And the Jessie Wright is sunny and comfortably warm while the Marsters is cold and very wet, at least on the days I hiked the two trails.

Splish-splash on the North Umpqua Trail
As I blissfully slept the night of my Jessie Wright Segment hike, happily dreaming of riverine trails, a storm system blew in and the next day it was more a question of when and not if, as to whether I would get a rain soaking on the trail or not. However, at the hike's outset the sky was gray and brooding (just like me!) but the rain was still safely stored in the clouds above. Beginning at a backpacker's campsite next to the river, the Marsters Segment of the North Umpqua Trail ran straight through a soggy aisle flanked by spindly trees. Leaves carpeted the muddy trail which squished under my boots as I waded through the mud.

The river is just a step away
Within a quarter-mile of the trailhead, the trail shot up the hillside, climbing about 150 feet above the river. And then after all that work, the trail dropped back down to the river and then climbed several hundred feet above then river, and then....etc. You get the idea, the trail went up and down all day long. Fortunately, the uphill pitches were short and sweet, ending before legs went on strike. At times the path went cliffy, with the silty water of the river  flowing a straight couple of hundred feet below.

Bridge booby-trap (it's slippery!)
So, this is still autumn and on the shady side of the river, vine maples were still glowing yellow in the forest understory. Also making a significant contribution to the color show were big-leaf maple trees and dogwoods, with the dogwoods going as pink as a hairless mouse baby or one of my brothers. Occasionally, on the forest floor, individual fronds of Oregon grape were burning bright red. However, because I have seen that in all seasons, I'm not sure that the redness had anything to do with autumn or not.

Richard Creek..I mean, Deception Creek
Emerald-green moss flanked the trail in testament to the constant river moisture in the air. Likewise in liquid testimonial, small creeks ran over the trail with some frequency. Large creeks also crossed the trail but under, due to some finely constructed bridges. Only one of the creeks had a name, and Ray once said it was named after me: Deception Creek. I took it as a compliment!

Leaves in the rain

At just under the four mile mark, the Marsters Segment ended on a forest road crossing Calf Creek. As I ate lunch on the bridge, mindlessly contemplating the rushing water of the creek, I felt my first raindrop. After exchanging brief pleasantries with the only other person I'd see all day, a mountain biker and her dog, I returned to the trail for the return leg. It never fails, it always rains at the point farthest from the car, it must be like a weather god rule.

ISO 3200, stat!
But it was a mild rain and no complaints yet. At the three mile to go mark, the heavens absolutely opened up and now there was vigorous complaining. I made an attempt to put the camera away but the autumnal forest with its river views was just too beautiful not to take a picture of. So I compromised and took less pictures and walked just a bit faster. The day was dark, a statement empirically supported by an ISO setting of 3200 on my camera in broad "daylight". Too lazy to dig into my pack for my raincoat, I just put up with getting wet, but at least I was warm from the exertion of hiking. It was one happy but wet hiker upon return to the X where the highway, river, and trail all intersected.

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


  1. Another beautiful fall hike! Too bad about the rain, but I guess if you want to hike in the PNW you have to be ready to put up with a few soakings.

    1. That's why my raincoat has a semi-permanent spot in the trunk of my car. Thanks for stopping by, Linda