April 14, 2016

Ogallala? Oh, Golly!

Filed under: Hiking, North Cascades, Weather — geezerwriter @ 7:40 pm

On the way to the “Ogallala” trail

Eight hikers, including Carols’ daughter, Renae, showed up on a cool, misty morning in Bellingham for a hike on Stewart Mountain, just east of town. We named it the “Ogallala Loop” because someone, probably a transplant from Nebraska, once carved a wooden sign saying “Ogallala – 1400 miles” and nailed it to a tree near where the trail takes off from the logging road. In the above picture we are approaching the sign location, but when we got to the point I had saved on my GPS there was a small trail heading into the woods, but no sign. A couple of hikers went on down the road for a bit but soon gave up and returned and we prepared to head into the woods.

While we were waiting, the mist turned into a very light rain and we put on our pack covers and other rain gear. I did so mainly to ward off the weather gods, since the forecast called for a cloudy day but very little rain.

Which was completely wrong; it proceeded to rain continuously but lightly for the whole day. This poor, soggy little trillium was emblematic of the day:


The trail has always been on the muddy side and poorly maintained but it has gone completely to seed now. We were lucky that we’ve had a week with almost no rain, for we still had lots of encounters with slippery, shoe-sucking mud. We were clambering over fallen limbs and trees all day, too.

We grabbed a quick lunch up on top of the mountain but we couldn’t see any of the fine views, as we were enveloped by the clouds. The return side of the loop was, if anything, even worse than the ascent, with more mud, seriously steep patches and overgrown undergrowth that made us too dependent on the occasional pink blazes along the trail.

I am just about ready to declare this as an ex-trail – a trail that we used to hike, but now have better sense.

We did a nice round 10.0 miles with 2700 feet of elevation gain. This was only my second hike after missing about a month and I am feeling it all over. But at least we didn’t get lost, no one damaged any important body parts and we returned with the same number of hikers we started with.

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