November 3, 2015

Through the Woods

Filed under: Hiking, Weather — geezerwriter @ 7:31 pm

This morning I set out to see if the hike I scheduled for Thursday would be worth doing. The last time we tried this hike we ran into a real mess near a new clearcut – many, many small to medium trees that had fallen across the trail (which at that point was actually an old abandoned road). We struggled through it for awhile but ultimately gave up, not knowing if we were going to be able to get to a better situation. My plan for today was to make a quick hike up to that area and see if there had been any cleanup, now that the logging operation was complete, that would allow us to complete the hike to the top of Stewart Mountain.

The trail was wet from our recent rains but not terribly muddy. I took a picture of a leaf in the trail from a Big Leaf Maple – can’t imagine how they came up with that name!

Big Leaf Maple leaf in the trail

Big Leaf Maple – the toe of my boot gives scale

As I approached the area of the clearcut the trail disappeared under a bevy of small fallen trees. Not only did they block the trail themselves but they had also bent other vegetation across the trail. I thought it odd that so many trees had fallen, and all in roughly the same direction, but when I tossed one off the trail I noticed that it ended in a clean saw cut. Why had someone cut down all these tress?

The trail is blocked by vegetation

The “Trail” is just to the right of center.

My plan for a quick hike to the old road by the clearcut was not working out. But I had brought a pruning shears and a small saw, so I decided to spend a little time cutting my way through – maybe the blockage was only a few yards deep.

It wasn’t. An hour and a half later, after giving up and starting back down and changing my mind a couple of times, I finally made it to the road I was aiming for, having traveled a distance of about 100 yards!

That road still has a lot of downed trees but it didn’t seem as bad as I remembered. It looked like some hikers or hunters has started stomping out a new way around and through the mess. It was mostly a matter of stepping over trunks lying on the ground, with a few more annoying ones to clamber over or scoot under, but nothing that was difficult or dangerous. In the end, the bad part was less than a quarter of a mile (I measured carefully) and only took me about 10 minutes.

A big portion of the trail that we had used in recent years was completely obliterated by the logging operation, but there is another old road that leads away from the clearcut and accesses an older trail (in who-knows-what sort of condition) that links up with the trail to the top of the mountain. So I pressed on another quarter mile or so to check the out and, with a bit of difficulty, found the old trail and followed it a short distance, just enough to be reasonably sure that it was the correct trail.

Old Trail #6

Old Trail #6, covered with leaves

The trail seemed to be in pretty good shape but I was still several hundred feet below the top of the trail and kind of pooped, so I headed back to town. On the way down it took me about 6 minutes to pass through the section that had taken me an hour and a half to clear. The whole trip back to the trailhead took less than two hours.

So all in all I think this hike is actually doable. The weather for Thursday looks pretty good.

Fungus Amongus

Fungus Amongus


  1. I wish I was in reasonable weather like we have in the Pacific Northwest. It was 100 degrees heat index yesterday. 😦

    Comment by DJan — November 6, 2015 @ 9:44 am

  2. Hi. I went up Stewart yesterday and took the old trail up, the one you were checking out. There are a few small trees down at the very beginning (within 100 ft from the start at the end of the road) but then it is intact and clear to the top.

    Comment by brewermd — January 11, 2016 @ 10:11 am

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