Saturday, February 6, 2021

Cooper Creek Reservoir

Some random notes and observations from a recent round of health stuff: CT scanners resemble giant electronic donuts standing on edge and as they slide you in and out of the hole like so much jelly filling, but it doesn't really seem like much of anything really happens. However, the size of the bill afterward says something large and wondrous definitely happened. Also, the iodine injection associated with the scan gave me hot flashes that made me think this manly specimen was going through manopause. And speaking of manly specimens (besides the urine sample in the paper cup), why is this particular charter member of the male species afflicted with a hernia? Shouldn't it be called a hisnia? Asking for a friend.

Bird's nest fungus adorns a twig on the forest floor

At any rate, I'm not completely banned from hiking before the requisite hernia surgery but I've been instructed not to do any strenuous hikes. There's some wiggle room in that edict in that it is up to me to decide what is strenuous or not, "You know best what a hard hike is and what's not" said the doctor. I see what she did there, she put the onus on me should there be any hernia-related pre-surgery complications. Guess I'll have to keep my hikes mild in the interim, like this one around Cooper Creek Reservoir.

Jeff and Kim were training for their
upcoming Pacific Crest Trail through-hike

Beginning at the reservoir's dam, about fifteen hikers set sail with the first ten or so rapidly disappearing from the last five's sight within minutes. The morning was cool and quiet with low cloud cover fogging up the surrounding forested hills and mountains. The lake was still as a mouse hoping the hawk soaring overhead doesn't see it, and the mirrorlike surface reflected the clouds previously mentioned. Initially, the trail hugged the southern shore and we hiked exclusively on the cold and shady side of the lake.

C'mon in, the water's gross!

The lake's waters were colored an unappealing greenish brown, but then again it is winter and the tributary creeks run muddy this time of year. Later in the year the water will blue up and in the interim, we'll just have to restrain ourselves from drinking the water or jumping in for a quick dip. After several miles of hiking in a forest of young trees with the forest floor carpeted by ferns, red-fronded Oregon grape plants, and small lavender-flowered snow queen, we reached a broad meadowed swale that was the Cooper Creek inlet and the end of the lake.

The good part of the trail

We crossed Cooper Creek via a wide footbridge as we rounded the lake. From here on in, we'd be hiking back in the direction of the dam and trailhead. The trail used to end at a boat ramp and hikers then had the choice of completing the loop around the lake via paved roadway or returning back the way we had come for a longer distance with no loop around the lake. While we ate lunch at a scenic overlook replete with picnic table, Lane walked over to the boat ramp to unleash his inner Cooper Creek, so to speak. As we were gearing up for a return via trail, Lane came back waving his hands and yelling in that cute squeaky voice of his that the trail continued on past the boat ramp. Hey, maybe the circumnavigation of the lake had finally been completed!

The nice new trail begins a disappointing fade into obscurity

Our local mountain biking club has been diligently working on completing the trail around the lake, and initially, the new section of trail was freshly cut into the vegetation and soil but eventually petered out to a faint track covered by numerous fallen trees. Here, most of our group decided to walk uphill to the roadway and return via said roadway. After a brief round of pointless dithering, Michael, Lane, and I decided to continue on the faint path and bushwhack if need be, should the trail tread disappear altogether. Michael's dog Boog had no say-so in the matter.

A hike in need of a trail

Whew, that was work! Most of the last two miles were spent contouring a steep slope and ankles (and paws, too!) were soon fatigued from the constant sidehilling. Some enterprising and kind soul had left a trail of pink ribbon "bread crumbs" for us to follow yet on more than one occasion, we lost the official "unofficial" track in the thick and scratchy brush. Yet, the forest was green and lush, even if scratchy, and the lake was always below, sparkling in the afternoon sun like so many rhinestones on an Elvis impersonator's costume.

Lane, Michael, and Boog reach the boater's picnic area

It was jarring to suddenly leave the lakeside tangle of brush and brambles and stroll out onto a grassy picnic area but hey, after all that, we happily accepted the trail gods' beneficence. Tuned out we were on a boaters' but not a hikers' picnic area and we had one more bushwhack scramble to perform, much to the amusement of our road walker colleagues watching us and loudly pointing out that the only way up to the road was through thorny and skin-raking blackberry brambles. We responded in kind by pointing out that the road walkers were a bunch of namby-pambies at which point Rheo objected. Seems like while Lane, Michael, and I were busy handwringing over what to do, she just lowered her head and charged solo through the brush ahead of us. And here we thought we were such bad-ass trailblazers! At any rate, we conceded her point and granted an honorary membership into the He-Man Hiking Club. Boog was also granted an honorary membership, even if he was carried over fallen trees on occasion.

Thanks, guys!

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


  1. Richard,
    Bob & I went there to hike the trail, but couldn't find it. We couldn't even find any signing! From your map, I think I can see where you started.
    I hope to start hiking again in the summer, but it's been a long winter with 2 months of C-diff treatment!
    Hope your surgery is successful!
    Susan Board

    1. Susan, to find the trail, walk across the dam and it'll be obvious on the other side. I think the hike around the lake is close to seven miles if I remember right. As far as the surgery, it all went well, although I feel like I just had a C-section. All the women in my life have informed me that I have no idea what I'm talking about.