Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hike of the Week : Wolf Creek Trail

I had noticed this trail on -- eight miles up, eight miles down, from the Whiskey Bend Trailhead up to Hurricane Ridge. We had even seen it when we went on a hike a few weeks before from the same trailhead.

It had seemed a bit ambitious earlier, but given that we were meant to be out hiking for 4.5 hours, it seemed time to attempt it -- despite not knowing where the snow would turn us back, if at all. (Spoiler alert: we turned back due to snow.)

After camping at Dungeness Recreation Area we headed out early and got to the trailhead. May I just point out that Woody does a great job on dirt roads? Here, late in his life, he's really coming into his own. This is, after all, what he was built for!

We headed up from the trailhead, and immediately started climbing. Sometimes I think trail designers like to put a climb in at the beginning as a way of "thinning the herd". Oddly enough, a lot of the early trail was grassy -- indicating that not many people go this way.

Everything was lush and green, and the trail, while narrow, was level. There was also very little mud -- only in one or two brief stretches did things get a bit marshy for a few feet.

But for the most part it was a "poster child" trail. We just went up and up.

We kept hearing a funny sound -- a deep, booming, "HO-ho-ho-HO-HOH". Still not sure what it was, but perhaps a sooty grouse?  ("A large, chicken-like bird" and "one of North America's largest grouse"). We never spotted one, but we heard them all day on the trail.

We also came across a tiny, nearly perfect blue eggshell. It had been pecked open and was empty, but was perfect in every other way. I said it must be a robin's egg, based on the color, and Wil looked at me like I was insane. Apparently "robin's egg blue" isn't a known color in the UK... because their robins are different.

We've had many lively discussions with Tony and Sue about the difference between "their" robins and "our" robins. And, apparently, the two birds aren't very closely related. Here's the European robin:

And here's the American robin:

Amusingly, in Mary Poppins, the robin "feathering his nest" is actually an American robin... described by Wikipedia as "a rare vagrant" in the U.K.

Also amusing -- these are European robin's eggs.

By Thomas Love - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
 And American robin's eggs:

Which explains why Wil was mystified by my "robin's egg blue" comment!

Eventually we reached a gap in the trees and saw this:


We kept heading up, glimpsing snow -- but soon, there was lots of snow.

Enough snow covering the trail that we decided to turn around.

By the time we got to the bottom, we had been hiking for over 5 hours -- a good day.

Afterward, we drove up the road to Hurricane Ridge. I suppose we should have known the trail would be snowy at the top, given how much snow they get at Hurricane Ridge!

The road was dry, as was the parking lot... but there was still a ton of snow. As you can see, it was a glorious day, with amazing views.

Then back to the campground, where we relaxed and enjoyed another night by the campfire. A perfect day!

Wolf Creek Trail

9.9 miles
2592 feet elevation

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