Saturday, October 27, 2018

Castle Creek Trail

So, when I get behind in posting my hikes, I set up a skeleton post and type in a few words to help jog my memory for when I do get around to writing about the hike. Accordingly, on my last hike on the Oregon coast I typed in the notes:

Angry ocean, high surf warning
Got caught by a sneaker wave
Incoming storm

Fungi, reclaiming some of that
decaying biomass in the forest

Sounds like a moody poem or almost a haiku, except the number of syllables don't quite meet the definition of haiku. But after I wrote those memory-jogging notes to myself, I inadvertently pressed the "Publish" button and that dire and gloomy missive posted directly to my blog. I had no idea until several weeks later, Glenn and/or Carol asked me if I was OK and if I managed to outrun the wave and make it back safely home.

A day damp and dreary
My first inclination was to wax sarcastic and say "No, I was swept to sea as I was typing what you read. I couldn't finish because the ocean water ruined the laptop I always take with me when I hike, and besides which, I'm dead!" But because I generally try to mimic socially acceptable behavior, I instead thanked Glenn and/or Carol for their concern, and promptly deleted the very strange blog post.

Water drops, just waiting to soak my legs
Now, there are several ways to look at this situation. First, only one person follows my blog and cares about me. Or, many people follow my blog but only one person cares about me. Or, that person follows my blog and since he and/or she waited a couple of weeks to perform a welfare check, he and/or she doesn't care about me at all but does have a delayed morbid curiosity. Things to ponder, to be sure, but the one truth in all this is that there is not much point in having a blog if you are not going to blog in it so here we go about my hike on the Castle Creek Trail, located in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness. Right now, as I type this, it is early February and this hike was done in late October. I do have some catching up to do now, don't I?

Trail through a slightly singed forest
I had hiked the Castle Creek Trail several years ago and the trail was faint and sketchy back then. After several years of neglect and after a large forest fire swept through the area in the smoky summer of 2017, I harbored no expectations of following a wide and well-maintained trail. Not surprisingly, my low expectations coincided exactly with the sketchy and overgrown reality on the ground.

The forest was quiet...too quiet
One surprise though, was that while the fire (part of the North Umpqua Complex Fires) singed the trees and cleared out the underbrush, the forest was pretty much left as it had been before the fire. In fact it was pretty hard to see in places whether a fire had actually been here or not. But it had, and already vegetation had robustly grown back over the trail, adding to one of the recurring themes of this hike.

Plenty of opportunities to hone the
fine art of water-drop photography
It had rained on the drive up but it never would rain on me during the hike. However, the vegetation was soaked, and since the vegetation encroached the trail, water was then transferred from bush to hiker via the mechanism of wet hiking pants. On the positive side though, I got to practice and further hone my skills at photographing water drops on leaves.

Tried to see sunlight but I mist it

Besides my wet legs, one other overriding impression was how quiet it was in the forest. Normally, there is an aural backdrop of animals pitter-pattering and chitter-chattering, but not on this cold and damp day. The forest was quieter than a classroom during a vector calculus final, but with much less mental anguish. The reason probably had to do with the local fauna either starting to hibernate or perhaps migrating to lower elevations in advance of the impending winter.

I wet my pants!
And winter it was, for any hopes I had of continuing my run of spectacular autumn hikes were quickly dashed by a splash of cold water from a near leafless but twiggy bush brushing up against my pant legs. Apart from a few dogwood trees with a handful of orange leaves fluttering with the slightest air current, autumn had already come and gone. I really couldn't dwell on the changing of the seasons though, as much of my attention was intently focused on discerning where the footpath was ahead of me.

See the trail?
Me, neither!
In some places, the trail tread was eminently visible and in others it was as faint as the runes carved on a prehistoric monolith. At least it was all downhill as the trail gradually dropped down into the Castle Creek canyon, the creek becoming more and more audible along the way. But it was getting cold. And wet. My pants were so soaked that when I brushed against encroaching shrubbery,  I could feel rivulets of water running down my legs. I hadn't felt that sensation since that time in kindergarten and the liquid was a lot warmer back then, and enough said about that. At any rate, I was beginning to feel the chill so I turned around at the 3-mile mark, about a mile short of actually reaching Castle Creek.

Peace like a forest
Of course, no sooner than I started walking back to the car, the sun did break out for a bit, simultaneously taking care of both excess moisture and cold temperature. Still the same old uphill trail to the car, though. Despite all the my sniveling about wet vegetation and cold temperatures, I really did enjoy this hike. The forest was beautiful and peaceful, two of my favorite reasons for hiking.

The morning rain made sure
this hike would be a wet one
As far as whether I escaped the sneaker wave or not, my readership (apparently consisting of just Glenn and /or Carol) will have to read my blog at some future unspecified date to find out. For more pictures of the Castle Creek Trail, though, please visit the Flickr album.

Despite the rain, I was really lichen this hike

1 comment :

  1. He is back! Glad to know you are still around and evidently into "wet" hiking now. Look forward to maybe hiking with you and the club in 2019