The friendly folks at the Naples Store didn't know for sure if the gate at the lower end of the Trail Creek Road off HWY 95 had opened yet.
So, after our purchase of a fresh cup of coffee for me, along with a hotdog and Chic-o-Stick for Bill, we crossed the highway onto the road, hoping for the best.
The gate was open. The road was rough, soupy in some places, but we made it to the next gate where there's an opening, a Forest Service john and corrals for trail riders.
Changing into our hiking shoes, spraying ourselves with mosquito repellent and grabbing our trekking sticks, we headed through the second gate and up the trail, which is actually a road.
A light rain spit on us for a while, but it eventually stopped and with the temperature much cooler than down in the valley, conditions were perfect.
The road is a gradual uphill most of the way with a few level spots for taking a breath. Bill and I have taken this hike every year for the past three years and usually at the same time.
Most snow has recently melted, wildflowers are beginning to dot the hillsides, and trees are just leafing out or showing off their new needles.
Bill was treated to one of his ultimate viewing delights---fresh needles on larch trees. That has already happened down in the valleys, so on yesterday's hike he enjoyed a double dose of what he considers the most beautiful color in nature.
Shortly into the hike, which provided us some relatively soft surface for walking along with a few really smooshy spots, we began studying the tracks: a human, some vehicles, moose and a wolf.
All had passed through recently, and, for a time, we thought we might even see a vehicle.
Eventually---about two miles up the trail, we could see where the human had turned around. The wolf tracks continued to show up from time to time as did the moose.
With all these tracks, the closest thing we saw resembling wildlife was a noisy stellar jay, flitting between tree branches and making sure we knew of its presence.
Bill wished that he had some peanuts, recalling one day in the woods when he held them out in his hand while a jay came to sample them.
Yesterday's 5-mile hike up and down the gated off Trail Creek Road was quite satisfying for me.
Having been tormented with a sore shoulder for the past few months, which seems to be improving, I noted that this hike had provided a good test for me personally.
Thankfully, the endurance is still there, even though walking down hill awakens some soreness to the knees, but this ol' body still has what it takes to totally enjoy a reasonable hike in the mountains.
Regardless of any age during the life of this almost 71-year-old, I've never been keen on hiking straight up and straight down terrain, but moderation, like yesterday's walk, almost always works okay for me.
So, the relative ease of the Trail Creek Road made me more than pleased that I can still get out and enjoy the back country on my own two feet.
We were pretty amazed on our way down to inspect some huckleberry bushes and to find berries already formed on some bushes, none on others. Could be early hucks this year and could be spotty.
During the hike I posted a photo on Facebook and was not surprised to hear within minutes from my friend and fellow backwoods lover/photographer Don Swanstrom.
Don, who grew up around Naples and worked a few years for the Forest Service, texted me a note, saying he had come up the road on Mother's Day to find the gate closed.
He was happy to learn that it is now open.
"Don will be up here tomorrow," Bill said as we walked.
"Yup, probably so," I said.
Twas a great afternoon adventure, and I hope if Don makes it up there soon, he enjoys the trip as much as we did.
By the way, Bill suggested that sometime we need to plan some logistics where a rig is left at Boulder Meadows and one left at the horse corrals, so we can walk the entire distance down into the meadows or vice versa.
Whaddya think, Don?
Happy Thursday to all. Enjoy the photos.
|I don't remember ever seeing this wildflower before. Any idea what it's called?|