Here Comes the Sun…And the Trail

25 January 2012 in Trails/Hiking, Traveling


Upon updating our now regular ten day forecast page we noticed the previous forecast of rain through Friday now had a window of sun Monday. After spending the majority of the past week confined to indoor or more accurately intrailer activities we were exciting to hit the trails again.

Rushing WaterOur first destination was the Myrtle Creek Trail. This trail is an interpretive trail that highlights the varying plant life along a short one mile hike. It also sheds light on past mining practices in the area. Along the way small signs identified various trees and bushes and the soil and climate in which they thrive. Some of the more interesting plants were the edible and fragrant species. There was the Oregon Myrtle a small tree bearing leaves similar in size, shape and smell to that of the bay leaf commonly used in cooking. Only these leaves are more potent. We found ourselves enamored with the smell and plucked a few leaves and placed them in our pockets. (Side note: the following day Lindsay discover we have an Oregon Myrtle right in our own backyard). But this was not the only plant we’d find ourselves eagerly smelling. The next was Wild Ginger. This was a low lying plant with spade shaped leaves poking up sporadically along the forest floor. It’s leaves contained a very aromatic, spicy scent. Though there was many other interesting plants identified along this trail these too stood out and will be remain in our memory like that of the Ponderosa Pine whose bark smells of butterscotch. I find the existence of a new dimension of experience in this third dimension of sense. Sure there is always the damp, fresh smell of the Redwood forest. A pleasant aroma of moisture, decay, fungi, moss and life. But to be able to identify and enjoy the individual scents of specific plants is wonderful, new realm of awareness.

Mushroom CupsOur next destination was good old Howland Hill Rd in Jed Smith State Park. As we previously mentioned in this blog Jed Smith is home to a wealth of thick old growth or the big trees. This ancient forest holds a large assortment of Redwoods massive in girth and towering in height. Our goal today was to hike another portion of the Mill Creek Trail of which we had hiked and thoroughly enjoyed a portion of previously. This time we hoped to begin at the portion branching off of Stout Tree Grove and make our way southwest towards the portion we had already hiked. This proved impossible because the bridges to access this portion is for summer use only and is literally removed in the off season. So we drove down skipping the portion we had seen—which was situated in the middle—and began around the halfway point. This trail began by following the river. We meandered through forests thick with hanging moss. Then abruptly we were led up across Howland Hill Rd. and along a hillside were a few giants grew along side remnants of the fallen and burned. After a short stretch we were again sent back across the road and down along the river. Here we watched the river—usually lightly rippling and crystal clear was now thrashing through still high from the rain and a pale, opaque light blue-gray.

Rounding a bend in the trail we discovered the strangest Redwood we had ever seen. Previously this title was held by Corkscrew Tree in Prairie Creek State Park, but this tree standing in front of us seemed less of a tree and more of a surreal painting or the home of a troll in a fairytale. You’ll find many Redwoods with large, bulbous growths protruding from there trunks like infected boils about to pop, but these are usually limited in number and size. This tree’s trunk was composed entirely of bulging, oozing, dripping growths twisted and melting into one another. It looked as though the tree were once a giant wax candle that had melted over several decades in the warmth of many hot summer days. I’m not sure why this anomaly occurred or how the tree survived, but seeing it was dreamlike experience. As is the simple pleasure of wandering these intimidating and humbling forests.

Tags: , ,

25 January 2012 Trails/Hiking, Traveling

No comments yet.

Leave a comment