Friday, September 21, 2018

Union Creek

Regular readers of my blog will note that this year there have been a few hiking fails, notably on my Sherwood Meadows and Roughrider Fall hikes. Well, we can add Union Creek to the thankfully short list, due to a badly overgrown trail that at times, resembled my back yard before its annual mowing. Obviously, I'd rather be out hiking than doing yard work.

Not much sunlight makes it to the forest floor
I had hiked Union Creek many years ago, but in that was in early spring. The creek was hard to see then as it was surrounded by a heavy and leafy growth of vine maple. My thinking was that here in September, the vine maples might be beginning their annual autumn fireworks so Luna and I headed to Union Creek, expecting this to be our first autumn hike of 2018. Well, to be clear, I was expecting autumn finery while Luna was simply happy to go out for a hike in the woods.

Decidedly un-yellow leaves
Even though peak season for the fall colors were just a few weeks away, the forest was disappointingly green. Disappointment is a matter of perspective because in spring and summer, I find the same green forest to be absolutely delightful. At any rate, apart from a few vine maples and dogwood trees just starting to blush yellow or pink in the sun, there wasn't much in the way of fall colors.

Always happy to get wet

What there was a lot of though, was dense tangles of vine maple and other assorted vegetation encroaching the trail. But at least the path was visible at the start. We could always hear nearby Union Creek but could not see it much due to the wall of green leaves between us and the creek. Occasionally, the path did get close enough to make visual contact with the creek, the tranquil pools not being so tranquil when an excited dog jumps in for a quick dip.

A rare clear section of trail

About a mile into the hike, we really began to fight the vegetation and I have the scratches on my arms and legs to prove it. Didn't seem to bother Luna much, but she remained firmly leashed to her less graceful yet incredibly handsome owner. If she were to take off in the brush, I'd lose sight of her within five feet. Anyway, we beat through intermittent patches of heavy brush and then the trail would be as easy to follow as a charismatic sect leader.

Sadly and truly, this is the trail
The intermittent quality of the overgrowth was lost right after we crossed a gravel road. From there it was continuous wading through chest high vegetation, the route visible only as a slightly less dense corridor of greenery. Soon, even that disappeared and the hike quickly degenerated into a bushwhack. It was all veritable jungle humidity and I was a drippy sweaty mess before long. Luna, cloaked in her sleek black fur, didn't seem to mind although her tongue was practically dragging on the ground as she panted. I called it good at the two mile mark, not wanting to continue doing this for another two miles to Union Creek Falls.

Dogwood, providing a hint of things to come
So back we went, fighting the same old brush on the way back. But when life gives you an overgrown trail for a hike, you turn it into a photo shoot. The dense tangle of trees and brush were photogenic, delighting dog, hiker, and camera alike. Periodically we'd bushwhack to the bubbling creek for either a photograph or an exuberant swim or wade, depending on whether you were human or dog. At least fighting the brush became easier the closer we got to the small hamlet of Union Creek.

Small cascade on Union Creek
When I got home, I found a friend of mine had sent me an email invitation to go hiking with her on the Union Creek Trail. Hmm, I wonder if she avoids yard work too. At any rate, I was able to warn her about the poor trail conditions. But while my hike was an epic fail in terms of getting an eight mile hike in, it still was a lot more fun than mowing the back yard!

Sketchy path through the woods
For more pictures of this short hike, please visit the Flickr album.

1 comment :

  1. Sounds familar. That was the same problem we had and our other hiking friends "Boots on the Trail" ran into this autumn too....they made it all the way to the falls. There is an ATV path that is prett level and looked nice that goes from the cabin area to the falls, but does not follow the stream. Hopefull the forest folks will get out and fix this nice trail again.