Saturday, September 3, 2011

King Mountain Trail Re-Visited

The directions to reach this hike are to take OR-8 W/ Gales Creed Road, Turn right onto OR-8W, Turn left onto OR-6W/NW Wilson RIver Hwy on with you will see signs for Glenwood / Tillamook, Turn right onto Elk Creek Road, Turn left to stay on Elk Creek Road, Elk Creek Road turns right and becomes West Fork Elk Creek Road. The trail head is close to mile marker 25 and has a small bathroom as well as quite a bit of parking. The trail head is to the right of the parking.

This hike is 5 miles with a 2500 ft elevation gain. It can be a loop if you head on to Elk Mountain but if you only want to do the one trail it is a up the mountain and back down the same way you came hike. 

The level of difficulty on this trail is "Connie Broke a Sweat many times and I felt the burn Level" We went through about 2 and a half mid size bottles of water. You really want to hit this trail early to take advantage of cool weather, pack some food and wear some shoes with lots of grip. A walking stick would be nice there are some parts where you have to double over to get up rocky steep parts of the trail.

The first time we tried King Mountain Trail we did not finish. We headed out too late in the day to take advantage of the coolness. We also had two dogs with us who were getting pretty tired out. The guides list this as an easy day trip trail. I am prone to disagree. While it is short it really gets the cardiovascular work out going and is continues in its steep grade for most of the hike. What it lacks in length it makes up for in challenging incline and your calves and thighs will feel the burn. My husband and I are not in great shape and moved up the trail at a steady but not speedy pace.

We were lucky enough to view an amazing site this morning. We were nervously chatting back and forth as we headed up the trail head about not being sure if we were ready for this challenge when we heard loud cracking of branches and something very large moving through the woods. The last hike we had gone on here had presented us with a tree with huge claw marks in the side. I am not used to seeing huge animals in the woods so I instantly started being worried that it might be a bear. I thought if we kinda make some noise going up the trail it would scare off anything that might be lurking. My husband bravely looked around though and we got to see two large elk. They were the most incredible thing I have ever seen. They are a dark chocolate brown. I think they were both female because they had no horns. They gently moved up the hill and away from us. I have seen an innumerable number of deer in my life but this was outside of the ball park. Their massive size was just astounding. The whole experience in combination with the beautiful silent morning woods made us both feel very small and so lucky.

As we moved further along the trail the wind started to pick up. The silence of the morning was replaced by the talking trees. The young trees made little squeaks while the older trees gowned and almost growled. Leaves fluttered down around us and littered the trail. They were not dead leaves or fall in color but bright green. The wind was really moving. It left the whole space feeling very alive. It felt as if some very old spirits were moving around us feverishly. Strong forest smells were carried to our noses and again we were reminded of how small we are.

The first part of this trail is very steep. Its like the test before you head on. There is a stretch that goes from the parking lot up up up to a stump where both times we have done this trail we have stopped really breathing heavy and have wondered if we can handle this trail. We always press on and the trail seems less daunting but it is always a moment of contemplation for us; wondering if we have the Oregon grit these other hikers seem to have. People pass us chatting away as if they are on a sunday stroll sometimes. It makes us feel like saps. haha!

The trail seems to be divided into three sections. The lower section is very shaded with pines covered in thick green moss. The floor of the forest is chest deep in ferns. Clovers are everywhere making little staggered shelves on the rotting fallen logs. Most of the trees are small in diameter but there are stumps with charred remnants on the side everywhere. I have not been to an old growth forest yet and can not fathom the hight these trees must once have been.

The second section lets a little more light in. You can view other mountains through gaps in the trees. Small red pipe like plants grow here and the moss is short and thick on the ground. The trail has a soft coating of pine needles here and the trail is smooth with mid size rocks and balls of dirt on the trail that will quickly put you on your butt on the way down if you are not careful.

The third and last part of the trail teases you with blue sky poking through the trees as you round a bend. There are lots of dead wind blown trees around and the trail can become rocky. Some of the rock you can use as steps and other times you have to use your hands as you double over to get up the taller sets of rock inclines. There are open spaces in the trees where you can sep out and start to see the vistas.

We missed the 2000ft mark but could tell we had moved past the point we had turned around before. We seemed to make it up these parts faster this time then the first. I still had to take lots of stops pretending to need to take photos so I could catch my breath. A few more hikers then there were in the morning were on the trail. Roger laughed at us because we were so tired and they were buzzing up the trail. I reminded him we put on our best faces too when we come across people and maybe they were doing the same. It is harder when you don't know what is next. I tend to navigate with markers of things I have seen before. Old stumps or cool rock outcrops. I could tell we were getting there though when there were large rock outcrops starting to jut out of the forest along the trail. Blue sky shown as we started to move along a more narrow part of the mountain. The trail also became more jagged and exciting.

We made it up to a large clearing. On the left was a gnarled skelliton of a old magnificent tree with a 3000ft sign posted on it. The trail had lots of loose ping pong ball size rock on it. The edge of the cliff dropped off creating a stunning and humbling view below.

I have never seen anything like this in my life. We did hike some pretty steep stuff in Maine. This didn't look out upon a sea of blue though but rather a sea of green. The impact of logging was drastically visable. You could see where massive amounts of erosion had swept the sides of the mountains where the trees were gone. Most of the forests were in tact though and it was incredible. We were able to get a peek of the road that had gotten us here with the river running along it. Smaller creeks cut serpentine patters in the valley.

We signed the guest book and Roger took a shot of me sitting viewing the valley. On our 5 year wedding anniversary he took a similar shot of me at the top of the Precipice in Arcadia in Maine. September 1st was our 10 year anniversary and this was the most fantastic way to celebrate it. We started the tough decent; the part you will be glad to have good shoes for and made it to our car. After we got home we took a nice long nap. This was a fantastic day!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Days In The Wood Lot By: Alma Field Sevier

In 2002 I asked my grandmother if she would give me a copy of her journals. She hand typed a whole binder filled with her writings. I thought I would share them with you all. I always thought she should get them published but she was not interested. Her words really are beautiful though and I thought you all would love to read them. Enjoy!

Days In The Wood Lot By: Alma Field Sevier

The day "pop" went to the woods were of many experiences to all of us. It gave us a day with Dad when there wasn't too much discipline - as long as you didn't get hurt - You could do it!!

It would take us a good half hour of rummaging through the mitten and scarf box - another length of time going through the boot box to find enough warm clothes to put on. After we got all bundled up we never failed to discover - we had to go to the bathroom!! Mom un-pinned; un-wrappedand un-tied us all; only to have to re-pin; re-wrap and re-tie us all back up again!!

Out the back door we slammed; one at a time. Bang! Bang! Bang! The last one to leave was on a dead run, with one boot on and one boot half on. Might get left behind you know!! Pop had the John Deere hooked up to the old "Honey Wagon"; so we clambered in. If by chance the load of "Honey" had been drawn out that morning; Dad patiently went back to the barn and got an arm full of burlap feed bags to place along the sides for us to sit on.

Up the road we went; Dad  singing as loud as he could. I guess he sang loud so he could hear himself over the put-put of the tractor!! Looking back we always saw Mom waving good-bue to us from the living room window - why did she always look so happy to see us going?? I wonder if she was actually relieve d to be alone for a while?

Mom had given us orders; ten  times over; to either sit down or hang onto the back brace bar. Of corse we'd almost always forget. We'd go staggering and falling to the back when Dad let the clutch quick. Looking back on it - I suspect he did it just to see us go scattering!!

We were supposed to keep track of dad; to see if he got hurt and run and let mom know. We were also instructed to help load the wood into the wagon after it had been split and blocked to the correct size. We usually loaded just enough to be able to tell Mom we had helped.

Most of the afternoon or day was spent doing all sorts of things. There was a gorge to be investigated; lots of trails throughout the woods to walk down. Best of all was when we went up in early fall - there was soft green moss; snails; waterfalls; dead logs and oh so many other things to lure a child off the country into a dream world. With an afternoon before you - you had time to make all sorts of things out of the soft ooze from the creek bottom; flower petals; fossil rocks; oh my what an assortment of articles to make anything your imagination could stir up!! The opposite bank of the gorge was MADE for BOTTOM-SLIDDING!! We found all sorts of tracks along the edges of the creek - raccoon; deer; crawdads and LOTS of toads.

It took hours to make a good, reliable dam; play houses under a log; fireplaces or any other idea that "popped" into our uncluttered minds.

Our woodland friends drank from the small ponds we made with our cild-sized dams. Their tracks were there when we went back on the next trip for firewood.

Sometimes we had time to make forts or houses. By brushing away leaves, stones and twigs we had a smooth floor. Walls were made by laying limbs or brush where we pretended a wall to be. Beds were made of moss; dishes of pooled bark; fences of inter-woven twigs.

After hearing the tree Dad was cutting down; go "crash" we always ran to look up and see the "hole in the sky". It's a thrill of un-measurable magnitude to look up and see all the empty space; the once graceful tree filled; to see a tree on its side gives one who loves nature a pang of sorrow. It took years to grow and only minutes to stop its growth.

Counting the rings on the stump showed us just how many years the tree had taken to get as big as it was. Some times we found one almost 100 years old but not many for the area had ben "lumbered off" just before the "Sevier's" moved here. Some spaces between the tree rings were wide some very narrow. Many times a dark streak ran through the wood - showing where the tree had received an injury of some kind. Mother nature heals many injuries in plant life - like she does in us. Scientists tell us the wide rings show a good growing year of plenty of rain and warm weather. Narrow rings show dry summers and maybe cold ones. To us kids they were just PRETTY!!

Of corse the next thing to be done, was to walk up along the log into the branches. Then you reached out and we "worked" ourselves along a branch that was sticking out high off the ground.

The thrill of playing Tarzan on the branches is one that city dwelling children seldom know. You ease  down over the limb; scratching your knees and your belly; hanging on tight; you start to push yourself up and down; up and down; up and down. Soon the whole limb is helping you. After you've reached your limit of control you drop down onto the heaven of twigs; leaves and land in a ball on the soft earth which is fragrant with all the years of forest.

Ger hurt? Naw - farm kids seldom break bones. We're fed on fresh meats, fruits and vegetables - all grown on the land we own. All we can eat anytime we're hungry We're put to bead early, so we're rested. Our bones and muscles have grown strong from climbing and walking.

After the wood was piled high onto the spreader, we started for home. Wet mittens were gathered; for we had brought several pairs. Mom knew one pair per kid would never be enough to keep us warm all afternoon. Did we get all the axes; wedges; Oh were is the maul? Yes, the saw and the gas cans are on. Where's the oil can? There on the stump!! With a roar of the engine the tractor strained onto the road and we were off!! Dad always made us walk out to the edge of the wood lot when we had a full load. He was afraid of us falling off while traversing the slippery rutted trails up through the wood lot Following the wagon we watched for the pieces that might loosen and fall off.

Loggin trails are always a problem to walk or drive over. If thawed they are always slippery with mud holes and ruts. If frozen there's still ruts and it makes for hard tricky footing.

As soon as we came to the open lot at the edge of the woods, you could feel a huge difference in the temperature. Snow could be seen sifting over the crusted snow and the air would blow sharply cold up over the knob and sink into ever gap in your clothing. Dad would flip his hood up and we knew it was going to be a cold trip home. Sometimes we would climb on the load and ride home but usually one of us was to eager and would run all the way to the house. If we road the load we always "sang" our way home - Dad singing the loudest.

Sometimes Ma would walk to the woods to help load the wood. She had supper ready and had "set it" to keep it warm on the coal heater. THEN we had to behave ourselves!!

The glow of the lighted house windows was always her favorite sight. It was like a warm greeting from a close friend.

Supper was good - no matter how simple. No stylish dishes - always just the fundamental - meat; potatoes and vegetable.

To bed under warm, home sewn blankets. OUr bedrooms were COLD, so Ma piled on blankets until we could hardly move!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Hedgehog

September 1st is my husband and my 10 year wedding anniversary. He bought me a cute little vintage hedgehog set of stacking dishes. It came here all the way from the Ukraine. I love it so much!

Imminent Death Syndrome

There was a Mr. Show episode where a guy suffers imminent death syndrome. He is constantly on the verge of dyeing and it is pretty much hilarious.

I feel like that is what our generation has been through with Y2K and other media frenzied scare tacticts. I can't help but think the reason why people posted pictures of lawn chairs tipped over in their back yards and streaked the news cameras during the hurricane is their response to the new's imminent death syndrome.

Its hard to know what we need to pay attention to now days or what the news is just freaking out about to get ratings. Its like the boy who cried wolf. Maybe if the news just spazzed about real things and stuck to a moderate level of alarm about the little things people would start taking them more seriously. 

Good Morning Spider

Front Page Treasury By: A Wandering Soul

I dig making fashion treasuries. This made the front page on ETSY!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Horsetail Falls, Ponytail Falls, Triple Falls and Oneonta Gorge

The directions to reach this hike are 84 east, exit 35 be sure to take a right onto Old Scenic Highway and there is parking along the road as well as a parking lot at Horsetail Falls. 

This hike was a 2.7 mile loop and had about 400 feet in elevation change. Taking the side trail to Triple Falls adds another 1.8 miles and will take you up another 300 feet. 

The level of difficulty on this trail is "Connie Broke a Sweat Level" We went through about one and a half mid size bottles of water. 

We have been using the book 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington By: William L. Sullivan to find a bunch of our hikes. It does not list the King's Mountain trail or the hikes that we took yesterday but is a excellent book to get to give you most of the hikes you want to hit in the area. We also reference a coastal book. Both give tips on where to park and how to get there.

Today we hit a bunch of falls all found on the same loop. The first two falls are pretty easy to get to and the gorge is a park and walk in situation. Not hard to get to at all. The Triple Falls were a break a sweat hike because of the incline but not too tricky. There were all levels of hikers on these trails and even a few doing loops to see everything and get maximum work out.

The trail head greats you with Horsetail Falls. It is massive and there are lots of people taking pictures there. Some park employees handed me some maps and a Pacific Northwest Region Almanac. This was our third hike for the weekend so the incline up was a bit rough for me at the start but I had an easier time heading up the slopes to Triple Falls. I think I was just trying to keep pace with the other hikers who  were less fatigued.

Ponytail Falls has a deep cliff area behind it so that you can walk behind the falls. The rock above your head is very dramatic. The moss covered rock gorge dwarfed the hikers transversing the trail.

The next part of the trail required more exertion. It was also getting hotter. The trail up from this falls to the next was more rugged. The volcanic pocked rock added traction to the trail. Some parts of the trail dropped off into the gorge and made it a little scary passing people on the path.

Despite the number of people hiking and swimming in the area we did manage to see some nature. I spotted a Steller's Jay. I have never seen one before and found it to look quite striking up in the moss covered tree. I found a large squashed slug on the trail too. It was a greenish color with black spots. I moved the lil guy out of the trail even though I think it was toast.

Triple Falls was amazing. I had a great time snapping pictures. People were able to stand at the very edge of the falls. That is one thing that bothered me about this hike was the lack of respect because of its popularity. It seemed as if everything had been trodden upon, poked at, scratched into and touched. While standing at the top of the falls a guy whipped off his clothing and started swimming commando in one of the pools. I did enjoy the epic size of the falls here but enjoyed the quietness of University Falls.

You have to descend the trails towards Oneonta Gorge. We picked this place because we lived in Oneonta, NY and thought it would be neat to go to Oneonta, OR. As we made the decent we veered off onto a side path and saw the most stunning views of the valley.

It was nice to see all of this from this vantage point. We had come in on this road on our way to our new home. I just about fell over seeing these gigantic cliffs and cascading waterfalls. You can go off the main road and do the old scenic rout when driving but that was not conducive to U-Haul driving.

We finally finished the decent and walked along the road a little ways to the gorge. This area was crawling with people and there was a very large log jam. I just climbed up a few monstrous rocks to get a good shot and then we headed home. Over all I think it is a must see for people new to the area. It is a good hike but may not appeal to the more reclusive hiker like me.