Saturday, December 12, 2020

North Umpqua Trail (Marsters Segment)

About a month prior to this hike, I had hiked the Marsters Segment of the North Umpqua Trail. And it had been like five years since the last Marsters hike before that one. In between those two prior hikes, fire had come to play and frolic upon the Marsters, much to the chagrin of the resident flora and fauna. So, much of the most recent hike was spent making horrified comparisons to the pre-fire and post-fire versions of the Marsters. However, on this mid-December day, the element of fire-damage surprise was gone so there was more of a general appreciation for the hiking aspects of this particular segment of the 78 mile long North Umpqua Trail (NUT). Well, make that the 40 mile long North Umpqua Trail, for half of the NUT is currently off limits due to fire damage from last summer's Archie Creek Fire

Views were hard to come by on this day

At the start, the morning was as chilly as an ex-spouse's glare, and river fog misted up the canyon and surrounding forest. Higher up, it looked like it might be a sunny day but not for us, that would require sun reaching the bottom of the canyon. And what do the North Umpqua River and an unempathetic jogging philosopher have in common? Why, they both run cold and deep! The river was obviously in winter mode with the strong current flowing dark and black like it typically does in cold weather. It's also that time of year where sunlight does not reach river-level and we'd (the Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club) best be planning to hike in the frosty shade all day. 

River fog ruled

While cold, it wasn't quite freezing so on the plus side, icicles did not form off of the tips of our runny noses as we hiked. Even though this was the second time within a couple of months that I had set my handsome feet on the Marsters, the devastation from the fire was still stunning. Maybe, the burned forest seemed even starker if only for the reason it was set against the murky background of the dark canyon and cold forbidding river, with thick river fog occluding much of the surrounding topography and what little sunlight there was.

Where landslide meets river

Several miles into the hike, the trail crossed a landslide that didn't really seem like it was yet done with its earth-moving business. A small stream of running water trickled down the face of the slide, which is always a bad sign. The trail was narrow and the path shifted and moved beneath our boots as we carefully made our way across. Shortly after this hike, the Marsters was closed because a large landslide had covered the road to the trailhead and I couldn't help but wonder if this landslide was the culprit (It wasn't).

Supernatural creatures inhabit the woods

So there we are, hiking in the mysteriously foggy woods, the kind of setting that makes it easy to believe in supernatural and spectral creatures, so don't blame me if I thought I saw a Sasquatch. We were hiking through a fire-blackened acreage of dead trees when suddenly on the ridge crest above, the sounds of a large creature stampeding across the landscape could clearly be heard. I whipped my head around toward the sound just in time to see the silhouette of a large apelike creature disappear into the thin sunlight illuminating the higher reaches. Actually, it was just a large tree falling, but just for a moment there, I believed. Besides which, falling trees when one is hiking is a spooky enough event, anyway.

Just another drippy day in paradise

Just like the hike from a month ago, the turnaround point was the trailhead at Calf Creek. While everybody else ate, I tried to take some photographs of ferns, mushrooms, and virtually anything else, but the increased moisture in the air was clouding up the camera lens within seconds of uncapping the lens. Sheesh, it was cold and now I can't take pictures either? What am I supposed to do? Just hike? The questions are rhetorical, no need replying to your sniveling whiny blogster, but I did make do by frequently wiping the lens (and my glasses, too) clean of condensation, darn early dew point anyway.

Fire does not age-discriminate

Near the Calf Creek Trailhead, a large pile of fallen fire-blackened trees covered the trail, and the climb over them was fairly tedious. Penny decided she would rather walk around them instead of clambering over like the rest of us mere mortals. The tree pile pushed her route away from the trail and onto an increasingly sheer slope, so she had to abashedly make her way back to the pile and scramble over like the rest of us lesser beings, much to our amusement. Life lesson: If you are going to do something like that, first make sure no one is watching!

It's not every hike where you can observe
mountain goats in their native habitat

I'm assuming everybody enjoyed the hike or if they didn't, they were kind enough not to complain within earshot, which was easy to do since I was leading from the rear anyway as per my usual customary wont. Despite the chilly weather and all the other harbingers of winter, it had been an enjoyable hike on our old friend, the North Umpqua Trail.

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


  1. Hi Richard, many photos in Flickr are gorgeous. Makes me like to go back. Thank you so much. Katsuaki

  2. Hey Katchan, thanks for the compliment. I'm currently laid up recuperating from a hernia surgery but expect to get out on the trail soon