19 June 2020

Abe Wouk Grove to Williams and Graham Grove to Harriet Hunt Bard Grove

Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park


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There were a number of parking areas along the way that seem to also be part of the park and serve as river access as I drove over to the east section of Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, but the one by the visitor center (with an $8 day use fee), central to the trails, was closed with the campground. I tried for the parking marked at the end of the loop through Abe Wouk Grove, but missed it and landed next to a bit of river marked Devil's Elbow and walked along the narrow highway to the trail. It was empty of river goers since it sits far up a cliff from the water.


Van Duzen River
Looking down on the Van Duzen River from a bit of old road.

trail sign at the side of the dirt
Only a small trail sign back in the ferns marks the trail beside the dirt.

I missed the parking I was aimed for because it is just a dirt loop around a tree at the side of the road and doesn't look official. I started down the trail beside a sign not caring particularly which bit of the loop I was traveling along. There is only a sliver of land between road and river, but it still felt like plunging into the forest. Unfortunately, the sounds of the road never totally went away.


large fallen tree
Abe Wouk Grove is dark and encompassing.

benches in a circle
I'm sure nefarious ceremonies of learning happen here.

Cheatham Grove

Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park


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I decided it was time for another Redwood Edventure quest and generally walk every trail of tiny Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park. There is a day use fee of $8, but it appears to only apply if one parks in the eastern section of the park by the visitor center. All of that parking was closed as a pandemic precaution. This first hike is the western part of the park, so not subject to a fee. I arrived to find a few cars in the small lot and one group leaving the grove as I entered, then had the grove to myself.


roadway, parking area, signs
Signs at the trailhead. The bump at the end of the pavement and the hole in the dirt beside it had me a little worried for the little car.

sorrel with flowers
The redwood sorrel is still blooming a little. These pink ones didn't have the nice red backed leaves. I am suspicious it might be some other sorrel.

The grove is a particularly open one. The trees range in size dramatically with a few particularly large ones. Birds were twittering in an incidental way as they tend to do in the middle of the day. And if that's your thing, you should be able to find a few of the trees storm troopers crashed into on the forested moon of Endor. The scooter chase was filmed here.


lots of trees and open space
Walking into the rather open forest. Most the trees aren't so big (for redwoods) but there's a few in there that are huge.

poison oak climbing high
There's not too much poison oak, but it sure is impressive where it climbs high into the redwoods.

The quest points out the ferns hanging off the log of a fallen tree and I looked around the ground for what other ferns I could find. At first the majority looked similar, but then I noticed that they were not. The ferns gripping to the height are not the same as the ones stretching up from the ground. But that makes a bit of sense since the nutrients available should be quite different.


04 June 2020

South Siskiyou: Summit Valley Lookout and back along South Fork Smith River

Six Rivers National Forest

Smith River National Recreation Area


DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5


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(Day 5 of 5.) I packed up and got myself up to the meadow next to a sign post with just a few splinters of whatever sign was once there. I wondered where out there the rest of the trail was. The map hints off to the left and I thought I saw a hint, but that was wrong. I noticed another camp site as I wandered a bit more. The pile of rocks was a somewhat flattened large cairn with a pointer and that way lay trail. I could see the dim remains of switchbacks up the hill, but mostly it just went up. Once it leveled off, there was more difficult, but not impossible, trail to follow through the falling dead trees near the top.


large meadow area
Back at the big meadow, now in sunlight.

cairn with pointer
Pointers are excellent, especially when the trail is hidden by a fallen tree as it is here.

There was a nice big, dry area that could have been a nice enough camp on the way. I took a spot full of cairns to be the junction between spur to the old lookout at the top and the rest of the trail heading down the mountain to the river. There is the choice of really nice spots at the top around the old lookout, at least as long as the wind isn't blowing too hard.


trail over the flat top
The dip of old trail in the rocks is mostly easy enough to see across the top on the way to the former fire lookout.

former fire lookout
The former Valley Summit lookout is rather similar to the former Baldy Peak lookout. This square of rocks strewn with metal is a bit larger than the other.

The view from the top is quite expansive. The current lookout on Baldy Mountain must have a similar view from its not quite highest perch.


03 June 2020

South Siskiyou: Boundary Trail, Elk Valley, and Summit Valley

Six Rivers National Forest

Klamath National Forest

Smith River National Recreation Area


DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5

 


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(Day 4 of 5.) I decided I should probably continue along Boundary Trail rather than follow the one along the west side of Chimney Rock as I originally planned. It just adds a mile and three miles of little to no trail with no maintenance since the fire could easily be harder than four miles of maintained trail and road. I walked what I could find of the trail again and found it harder to see in the light than it had been in the twilight. (It's to do with glare.) For all I know, what little track is there with tiny cairns along it just turns off to Buck Camp Ridge and there is nothing heading down to Chimney Rock. The character of the topography the trail traverses looks a bit like some of the bits that had needed it reestablished, which could further complicate actually getting through. I started down Boundary Trail instead and found it lined with rocks. There's a lot more attention on that one.


sun touching the nearby peaks
The morning sun as it touches Buck Camp Ridge.

The pond sang with frogs in short spurts during the night, so I paused by it to see if there were newts too. There were. There's actually a small stream draining from the lake that comes above ground near where I was camped, so I wonder how long it lasts, but there were plenty of amphibians taking advantage.


newt in the water with its belly showing
Rough skinned newt just floating around in a seasonal pond.

newts tangled in the grass
Some of the newts were interested in the grass, or maybe aware of me and trying to hide.

Sawtooth Mountain
I didn't get very far from Sawtooth Mountain before finding camp.

02 June 2020

South Siskiyou: Harrington Mountain, Elk Hole, and Sawtooth Mountain

Six Rivers National Forest

Klamath National Forest

Smith River National Recreation Area


DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5

 


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(Day 3 of 5.) I packed up what I needed for a day hike and started along the South Kelsey Trail for the last little bit before it enters the next forest. There was only a brief moment when I wasn't sure where the trail might go. Most the way, I had plenty of idea where it went because there were so many trees cut from it down under the numerous trees crossing it and making the climb hard.


Baldy Peak between the trees
Looking back at Baldy Peak. The lake is at the bottom of a steep west facing slope, so everything is shadow for a while in the morning.

trail cut wide through the shrubs but blocked by many fallen trees
Just a few of the trees fallen on the trail that is cut wide through the brush and previously fallen trees.

The trail reaches an open ridge top and keeps on climbing. I stopped where it turned down again and turned toward the peak, which was many rock spires away. I tried over them and it wasn't going to work well. I tried along the slopes to the west, but was pretty sure those would cliff out before the final climb of the peak. The east side didn't look like a place to go either. My legs were feeling weak and shaky (in the morning when I should be feeling fresh and with little in my pack to weigh me down) and I couldn't shake the certainty that there was just no route under class 3 climbing. If my legs were feeling better, I'd have gone for a closer look, but they weren't and I still had the day's travel for them to take on. I turned back 300 feet away from the top and sat on the minor bump on the other side of the trail instead.


Harrington Peak from by the trail
The top of Harrington Mountain is only 0.16 miles (or about 800 feet) south of the trail.

well established trail in rocks, lakes below in lots of burn
Trail turns back north to go down the other side, which has a lot more burn.

01 June 2020

South Siskiyou: Baldy Peak and Harrington Lake

Six Rivers National Forest

Smith River National Recreation Area


DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5

 


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(Day 2 of 5.) It rained during the night, but I was nice and cosy. Knowing everything on my feet was just going to be wet soon, I pulled on the same wet socks and shoes from the day before. The morning wasn't as cool as I had expected and the water wasn't cold at all, but it was a little deeper than I thought. Finding stable places to put my feet among the big rocks was difficult and made it a slow crossing. On the far side, I promptly lost the trail. There was the suggestion of something by the sign, and then it was really a matter of too many choices. There should be three. Somewhere the secondary trail up Buck Ridge follows up Harrington Creek to cross right back over before getting serious about climbing, if the one map with it marked is to be believed. Gunbarrel Trail makes a quick getaway from the wilderness after crossing the river. South Kelsey Trail winds up the ridge in between. My first strong candidate for trail climbed up into the dirt of the hill and split, both sides looking like well trod trail. I guessed right and decided to explore just a little bit left to see what the river crossing looks like today, but the "trail" quickly turned into a steep climb and vanished. It did put me in a place where I could spot the ribbon below that indicated another trail option was the one. The first I tried might be game trail, but the one by the ribbon could just be river erosion.


crossing at Harrington Creek
It still looks a rough crossing down by the sign. I kept further up for smooth water at mid thigh.

ribbon in the extreme green
There's trail here?

Another ribbon marked the way further down and I spotted a third on the far side of the river. It was a very far side. The wilderness boundary actually bends around to give room to place a bridge at the crossing but it just looks like 100+ feet of churning maybe deep water to ford to me now. I spotted one more ribbon along the side of the river and continued upstream. Past it, the way got really rough and I started to suspect I had missed the clue to start the climb, so I headed back by the ribbon and started up a trail just before it. It turned to animal trail, but by this time I was just going to go with it and find the trail later. If it was there. The land leveled off and gave me a creek bed looking much like an old mule road might look. I followed it to where it was collecting the water and further and suddenly there was proper current trail coming up from further upstream. I went to go see how it was below, but stopped at the first log. The hill wasn't too much effort, but stepping over a log was. I turned and started to climb.


river looks small
The river seems to shrink in the photo, but it still has plenty of water in it in this season.

distinct trail through the ferns
Found me some really distinct trail. They do get past the creek crossings to hike this thing.

The thing swung back around toward Harrington Creek for a huge waterfall view and then really started to climb. An open area (Gunbarrel Slide) looked like it might be a good spot to camp and I wasn't the first to think so because I found a fire ring. I expect normally one has to bring water up, but I found a small trickle just past it on this pass. I could have got both wet foot crossings behind me after all. It had been getting late anyway.


31 May 2020

South Siskiyou: South Fork Smith River

Six Rivers National Forest

Smith River National Recreation Area


DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5

 


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(Day 1 of 5.) I found the Bigfoot Trail and even briefly thought I might like to hike it, but I just can't get too much excitement about hiking a long trail, roads and all, even if it is only 400 miles. The guide book does set it up as a scavenger hunt for conifers which sounds a little interesting. Hike a while getting to know a tree or two a day. There's 32 of them. I also found a couple trail journals that indicate the parts through Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness and Siskiyou Wilderness are the spots where the trail gets hard to find. They're also the major bit of wildernesses in Six Rivers National Forest. I found the Bigfoot Trail Alliance which mentioned various work outings helping the trail out. I found the South Kelsey National Recreation Trail. Surely I can trust a NRT? Okay, that's just naive.


Anyway, I picked out a loop because that's how I do things and headed out to the west end of South Kelsey. I missed the sign for South Fork Road making my late start even later when I went well out of my way. I noticed the big junction for FS-15 (G-O Road), so managed to get it even though it isn't signed at all. I managed to miss all the rocks and trees on the roadway that might be paved three lanes wide most places but is being given zero continuing care. It kindly signed the gravel road down to the trailhead which seemed in very reasonable shape. The trailhead has a bathroom, information sign with map, and even angler surveys. Posh! I joined three other cars in the free for all of a dirt lot and glanced at the map on the board. It marks primary trails (stock ready, but really not) and secondary trails (not recommended for stock, could require good route finding). I made sure the one I wanted to get back on was marked primary and sort of lost interest in it afterward. Everything else was road or I'd have time to turn back if it was too much.


nice trail through the trees and ferns
This is some quite nice and easy to follow trail.

The trail is a piece of what was built in 1855 by Chinese laborers for mule trains headed from Crescent City to Fort Jones and Yreka. It certainly started out nice enough. I had to puddle through some little streams, but it had poured down rain the day before. I hadn't noticed the road continuing down, but it gets near along the way and then crosses without indication of which way. Some turn left, which probably gets them some river access. My map just left me wondering about the mystery road and guessing I should ignore it. I think that was followed by an indication that I guessed right, but the bears had had their way with the sign.


bear destroyed sign
Bear destroyed signage. It would be nice to have even this much at a lot of junctions, but this is still the nice bit of trail.

more nice trail
Lots of nice trail high above the river.

There were lots of flowers, but the poor irises were rain battered. I saw some rhododendron on the way down the road, but none along the trail. The trillium were in seed, so none of the brick red ones that are supposed to be here for me to see. I've seen some reddish ones, but wouldn't call any brick red. I could barely see the South Fork (this time of the Smith River) far below, but what I could see looked huge and churned and roared.


churning river through the trees
There through the trees is a churning South Fork Smith River and some mountains.