Thursday, March 21, 2013

Old Sauk Trail

Pronounced "Sock", we call this our Sauk Walk! This is a 6 mile hike, located near Darrington, Washington, off the Mountain Loop Highway. It is described as "This is a very friendly, basically flat trail that looks like it could be straight out of a hobbit village. It's very rain-forest-like and filled with many varieties of mushrooms of all sizes and a wide variety of fall colors." The elevation gain is minimal, rising about 150 - 200 feet, at most. It is more of a relaxing hike for visiting, seeing the beautiful landscape and taking pictures. That's not to say it isn't a workout, it is. We will be hiking alongside of the mighty Sauk River, it's churning waters visible most of the way.

The forecast called for rain, something we have been lacking since summer began. It rained almost all night, right up until I woke up. I'm thinking my pretty pink shoelaces aren't going to be very pretty or very pink after today! Haha Up at 5:00 am, it's quite a drive to get to the Trail Head and be ready to hike. Today, Rick and I are meeting 4 others in Lynnwood at 7:00 am and riding up with them. We arrive at the Old Sauk Trail Head and start hiking at 9:30 am. It WAS quite a drive. It is lightly raining, so everyone dons their rain gear and we head out. As soon as we enter the forest, my nose is filled with an earthy, sweet smell that I can't identify. Nobody knows what it is, but it smells wonderful, almost spicy. I continue to smell it for the rest of the day. It made the hike even more pleasant!

Following are some of the photographs I took along the way.

The start of our hike. From left - Ann, Stef, Monica, Vickie, Jay and Rick. We were dry at this point...not for long!—

We start walking. The Forestry Commission had recently built all new trails, smooth and level. We walked them for about 2 miles and then came back to find the original trails. We walked the original trails for the entire 6+ miles and returned.—

This new trail was very easy to walk. The old trail is not much more than a narrow dirt path, sometimes riddled with roots and rocks...and puddles! Many puddles! —

It didn't take long before we reached the first bridge, we were getting very near the Sauk River. —

We were all getting very wet, even with rain gear on. I have to say though, nobody really minded. We all found the forest and scenery to be well worth a little discomfort.—

Rain, rain, go away. Ok, stay, I don't care! I love it here! —

A happy group of Jay. —

The water was LOUD! The river was visible for almost the entire hike. When I couldn't see it, I could still hear it clearly. —

Ann dared us to jump in. I said "After you!". That water had to be freezing! —

Monica and Jay. We were still hiking on the newly rebuilt trail, not for long. We made the decision to leave the flat, gravel trail, in favor of the original, narrow, dirt trail. It was a good choice, Jay and Ann had been here last year, before the new trail was built. I was happy to follow them into the more natural areas.—

Everywhere I looked, there were wild ferns... —

Moss hanging from almost every tree... —

Fungus and Mushrooms... —

Lichen...growing in trails along the ground... —

Or hanging from the branches of trees. I realized that the lichen contained bugs and worms and organisms that I don't want near me, but I found it so beautiful!—

Many trees were completely covered with moss, like there was no bark, just moss. —

In some places, the entire ground was moss covered. many inches thick. It looked like a soft, comfy carpet. Several times, I thought of how nice it would be to curl up under a tree in the soft moss and take a nap in this fragrant place. I resisted! haha —

Jay, Rick and Vicki standing. Ann and Stef kneeling. You may notice that our number fell from 6 to 5! Monica had gone back to the van about 3 hours in, she was very wet and cold, basically miserable! She waited almost 3.5 hours for our return, she was glad she did! Even as we were about to return to our cars at the Park & Ride, her shirt was still soaked and cold. She made a good choice!—

Mushrooms everywhere...Growing on rocks... —

Growing on trees... —

And on more trees! —

Some of the moss covered branches were kind of spooky! It reminded me of a scarey movie! —

They were like hairy green forest arms, reaching out to snatch you as you walked by. —

Rick was wet! —

Getting close to one end. There is a Trail Head at 2 different ends of the Old Sauk Trail. We could have parked a car at both ends and rode back. We preferred to walk both directions. —

This is the time of year that the salmon are spawning in the Sauk River. We didn't see any though. =( —

We came upon some strange rock formations! haha Ok, they were man made! I took this picture and when I look at it, it almost doesn't look real. I know it is, but something about it doesn't look like it. Rick says it reminds him of an aerial photograph of a high plateau. He pictures a little Township atop the moss covered rock. He sees trees and a tower or statue in the middle of his imaginary town. =D —

The river was running fast. —

Oh look! A mushroom! This one was really pretty. Actually, many were beautiful! —

What do ya know?! More Mushrooms! —

Finally, we arrived at the other end, we stopped for a snack and to rest our legs for a few minutes. I was finally able to take off my pack. It was soaked! —

Take a load off. I ate a piece of papaya and a small bag of tropical trail mix. Then we headed back. I have to say that my homemade cap held up well, keeping my head warm enough without making me overheated!—

Rick, having a good day! —

Starting back, Rick takes in the view of the river at this end... —

On the way back, we saw many things that we had not even noticed on the way upstream. So many different types of mushrooms and fungus were growing on everything.

This lichen was hanging from a tree, maybe 50 feet up. It reached to about 10 feet above the ground. I saw these all over the forest. They were beautiful, glistening in the mist!—

It also grew all over the ground, rocks, branches, even the Trail Head parking lots! —

A forest of ferns. In some places, the forest floor was covered with these ferns, for as far as I could see. It was beautiful! —

You can't tell in the photo, but these leaves are HUGE! —

I saw this scene and just had to capture it. Something about this photograph makes me happy! —

Do you get the feeling that I like Mushrooms, Fungus, Lichen? You'd be right! I think I get it from my Aunt Kathy, she loves them too. —

More... —

More... So many different colors. —

Still more... —

More? —

More mushrooms...! —

And more mushrooms... —

So many trees looked like this. It was hard to pick just one photo. I really like this tree! —

The photographer, captured by Jay, doing what she loves best! —

These dying leaves were so beautiful! —

Moss covered tree. —

Almost back to the van. Man, are we tired and cold and wet! But, we all had a great day! —

We had a wonderful day, spent with good people, good conversation and beautiful views. Although we were all soaked to the bone, by the time we finished, it was a day well spent. I wouldn't have missed it because of the rain. We saw a very few others on the trail during the day. We will be coming back again some day, when it's drier, perhaps in the spring to see how different the forest is as seasons change.

Next hike is planned for Saturday, October 27, 2012. We will be hiking up Sauk Mountain, but just in case it rains that day, our alternate hike is planned for the Boulder River. There isn't much point to spending our entire day, climbing the mountain, just to have no views because of weather conditions! =D

We have several other hikes planned, including some snowshow hikes through some higher elevations. This should be a great year! Until next time...

-Originally posted on October 14, 2012, by Stef

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