Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sherwood Meadows

Not every hike gets to be an epic. And, just because it's on the map doesn't necessarily mean it's still there on the ground either. Too bad, because both Lane and I had hiked to Sherwood Meadows before and we had both found the hike to be enjoyable and worthy. So enjoyable and so worthy, that Lane was entertaining a notion about leading a hike here for the Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club but naturally, after this day's struggle of a hike on an exceedingly sketchy trail, he decided the club could very well hike elsewhere and thereby continue to maintain the "friends" aspect of Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club.

If only all trails were so easy to follow!
The thing is, this poorly maintained trail has a very well maintained trailhead replete with a large parking lot, plenty of signs, and what appears to be a fully operable horse corral. Strange. But off we we went and initially, the trail was eminently followable through a dry and sparse forest. Because of the small spindly trees, we were also eminently exposed to sunlight and it didn't take long for us to feel the heat. Also eminently followable was us, and the mosquitoes found us eminently eatable, no matter how much Deet got slathered on.

Searching for a trail in Beaver Meadows
After a short distance, the trail entered grassy Beaver Meadows. On the map, there should have been a trail junction here, offering us two ways to get to Sherwood Meadows. We spent a great deal of time and sweaty energy in the open meadows searching for the trail but alas, we could not find it. We did find traces of trails past in the pastures though, for there were plenty of paths braiding through the expansive green leas flanking  surrounding the clear waters of East Fork Muir Creek. Most paths would peter out after a bit even though we found sign that some of these paths had been actual trail, vis-a-vis sawed logs scattered here and there. 

After wandering hither and yon through the grass while swatting at mosquitoes, we gave up on finding the trail and simply began enjoying the meadow. If one could temporarily ignore the mosquitoes, there were butterflies, wildflowers, and a small creek reposing underneath a cloudless blue sky. Much photography ensued, and hiking progress slowed to crawl velocity.

One of several fords of East Fork Muir Creek
Eventually, we backtracked to the original trail and continued on an increasingly brushy path to East Fork Muir Creek. The trail sort of disappeared in the lush growth but we did manage to find the resumption of the trail on the other side of the creek, after walking across logs spanning the clear running stream. And then the fun started.

See the trail?
Me, neither

The trail on the opposite side quickly petered out, disappearing into the lush creekside jungle. We turned left and followed the creek downstream, searching for some trail tread. Life would have been so much easier had we gone upstream, but how were we to know? Anyway, once Lane and I figured out that there was no trail where we were at, we decided to cross-country it to where we thought the trail might be.

Candystick diverts my attention away from my misery
Of course, our route charged straight up a nasty steep hill, the grade as unforgiving and unrelenting as an ex-wife (or an ex-husband too, I leave it to the reader to insert the gender of choice, here). The slope was heavily forested but despite the ample shade, the day had gotten quite warm and an eye-burning mixture of salty sweat, Deet, sunscreen, and trail dust were soon running into our stinging orbs,  making us cry over something other than cross-countrying it up an incredibly steep slope. Although, if truth be told, there were plenty of tears shed in that regard, too.

At times, the trail was quite pleasant
Anyway, the bad uphill eventually stopped and leveled out atop a forested plateau, where we found a faint trail tread. The next portion of the hike was an uphill trudge through the heat and insectile vampires swarming in the forest. At times the trail was quite easy to follow and at other times, we'd be peering into the forest, looking for the resumption of the tread. 

California blue-eyed grass
We ate lunch at another expansive meadow that lay within a mile of Sherwood Meadows, if only because there were slightly less mosquitoes per cubic foot of air than in the forest. When not eating, we were both crawling through the grass, taking pictures of the profuse wildflowers blooming within. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end though, and we headed back out onto the trail.

Stepping stones across the creek
Because of the energy-sapping heat and the heartless uphill grade, we were both exhausted despite the relatively short distance we had covered so far. Fortunately, Sherwood Meadows lay downhill from our lunch spot, ostensibly making the hiking easier. Unfortunately though, the path was covered with piles and piles of fallen trees and that was it. Communicating wordlessly like a long-time married couple, we turned around and headed back the way we came, abandoning Sherwood Meadows like an unfaithful suitor.

We stayed on the trail on the way back, and it was obvious where we had made the incorrect turn that set us on our tedious cross-country venture. But, even if we had made the correct turn, we still would have had to clamber over piles of trees in the heat while mosquitoes tormented us. Like I said, not every hike gets to be epic. Lane agreed, avowing "before today, I thought I Sherwood like to do this hike and now that I've been, I Sherwouldn't!" Not every joke gets to be funny, either.

Paintbrush in a meadow
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

1 comment :

  1. Sherwouldn't - ha ha! I loved your humorous recap of this hike. :)