Monday, March 20, 2017

Hike of the Week, part 2 : Forbidden Forest Loop

What a difference a day makes ... well, that and getting away from the prevailing winds at the Dungeness Spit. On Sunday we did our second hike of the weekend, rambling through the Port Gamble Forest on the Forbidden Forest Loop.

Now, I know what you're thinking. If the weather was better, why not try to hike the Dungeness Spit again? Well, it's all about the tides. The low tide on the 19th wasn't going to be until 3:30 in the afternoon -- by which time I had hoped to be on a ferry back home. 

But the Port Gamble Forest beckoned -- a big chunk of still-logged land, with lots of shared-use trails and some logging roads winding through it. 

And did I mention that this loop would include stretches on trails named Fun Forest, ET, and Ewok? Well okay then.

We arrived at the trailhead parking lot and nabbed one of two remaining spaces. (There's additional parking across the street, if needed, along with a trail down to a beach where you can collect oysters at low tide.)

We set off with a detailed trail description from WTA.org, and a crappy photo I took of the map posted at the trailhead. Luckily, the WTA site had great descriptions, and we had no problems getting around the loop. 

The sun filtered through the trees, the air was reasonably warm, and the trail was lovely in that otherworldly, I expect to see a unicorn trotting toward me, magical forest sort of way.


No unicorns, but we did spot Bigfoot.


No, wait, that was just Wil.

Path meandered up and down, around bends, on the edges of gullies, all the while in forest. We saw very few people out on the trails -- only 2 or 3 other hikers the entire time we were out there.


We did, however see a few mountain bikers ... or, at least, people wearing helmets, standing next to their mountain bikes. I started to wonder if this was some new "meet up" or "flash mob" sort of thing...  but it turns out that there was some sort of junior mountain bike race, and the loitering bikers were course marshals. Even with the event going on, we saw fewer than 10 people on bikes all day.


The rest of the time we were just happily alone in the forest.


As I said earlier, the description on WTA.org was great, even if the trail signage wasn't. Here's an example:
The trail winds through the ravine and up the opposite side, crossing Road 1400 at a big moss-covered rock. 
Well, hello rock.


Given the rain the day before ... and a bit of churning from the mountain bikes ... there were some muddy patches.


And some very wet patches.


But it was a great chance to test out our Gore-tex boots ... and for Wil to test out his DIY "Dirty Guy" gaiters. (For the record, we're big fans of Dirty Girl Gaiters and used them with our trail runners when we hiked the Grand Canyon... but they don't really fit high enough to cover the tops of Wil's boots, so he jury-rigged a pair by cutting the toes off some cheap socks he picked up at the Wal-Mart... #stayclassybro)


We wandered around the forest for about 2½ hours, every so often coming to a clearing in the sun....


but mostly in dappled shade.


Eventually we made it back around to the final stretch -- heading back along the Stumps trail to the parking lot. We thought it was interesting how well this trail was marked compared to the others, but hopefully with time the others will get more signage as well.


Then the short drive to Kingston, a bit of a wait at the terminal, and then the boat home in the bright sunshine.


We both really liked this hike; it had lots of ups and downs and a whole lotta pretty, mossy tree action. The mountain bikers we encountered were polite, but it did make me think I should have something bright on the back of my pack if I'm on a mixed-use trail in the future.

This was a "two-hike weekend"; next weekend will be mellower with just one. We're both really enjoying the act of getting out and going on hikes; I just hope we can keep our enthusiasm up as the hikes get longer!

Forbidden Forest Loop, Port Gamble Forest

8.5 miles
370 feet elevation

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