Sunday, February 8, 2015

Gray Wolf River/Cat Creek Loop: The Hike We Didn't Tell You About...

Sure I show you an edited, glossier version of reality here on Pacific Northwest Seasons. Ask most bloggers and writers, and they'd be fibbing if they don't say they do the same.  

Some outings aren't really "blog-worthy," so I just move on to the next hike/trip/meal/ski/kayak trip.  Maybe I didn't get many decent photos, or they're just sort of meh.  It happens.

I was hoping to blog about a road trip east of the Cascades, but we got rained and virused out this past week. (Can you say cold and flu season?). My only everyday Northwest adventure in the last week was going through a whole box of kleenex in two days. 

(I exaggerate; I did get out for a few walks in the woods in Carkeek Park, but I've blogged about it several times already.)

So while I try to show as pretty pictures as possible and wax enthusiastic about Northwest adventures, today you're gonna get a dud. Maybe you'll thank me.

In late December we road-tripped on the northern Olympic Peninsula, with an overnight at Lake Crescent Lodge.  On our way home we were snowed out of a hike at Hurricane Ridge, so instead drove up the Dungeness River drainage for some lower elevation hiking.

After crossing the river and passing a campground, we stopped at the first trailhead, for the Lower Gray Wolf River. Maybe we caught it on a bad day, but the trail started out oddly lumpy and strangely graded as it wound down and then flattened along what apparently is an old logging road. 

Not particularly scenic, so after about a half mile, we took the Cat Creek Loop into what was a lush, lovely grove of moss-encrusted old trees. (See the photo at top of this post.)

But pretty soon we started noticing an excess of downed trees, a tangle of branches and trunks all around us.  

Not long thereafter the trail ended in a collision of splintered, broken trees, looking like a tornado or something more sinister and nefarious happened here. We can't figure out what caused such destruction in this little gully.

"This is creepy, let's get out of here!" I say with a tinge of anxiety.

It didn't help that as we backtracked, we noticed a 10-foot-long strip of bark, looking for all the world like a huge dagger, hanging directly over the trail.  

"Widowmaker," says John.

We hightailed out of there back to the car after only hiking a couple miles at the most and took refuge at the 7 Cedars Casino to watch the Seahawks game. 

Watching a football game at a casino is NOT the sort of thing I blog about here. But of course there are a lot of things I don't blog about. At least the Hawks won that day.  As for the Super Bowl,  we'll try to forget about how the game ended shortly after The-Play-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

But I digress.  

I'm curious if anyone else has hiked that Cat Creek Loop with more success. What are some of your regrettable outings? Tell us about about your dud of a hike/trip/dinner out. Perhaps we can spare each other a similar experience with the warning.

Happy trails (really!) and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons.


Anonymous said...

I feel your pain, Jill. Outside of blogging glossy, I love the reality stuff way more. Widow maker is not as bad as fudge-sickle! Great post.

Alpine lily said...

I love this. You are right, not all hikes in the cascades make lovely magazine photos. I think it is important to not be too romantic about our mountains. There are plenty of rooty trails and ugly blowdowns and clear cuts to see around here and seeing those reminds us how important it is to protect our lovely places. And sometimes you may find something lovely even on these ugly winter trails.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Oh I miss hiking in the PNW. When I was at the UW friends and I used to hop in the car on the weekend and head for the hills. That was a long time ago but I still have many happy memories and a few photos of those times. Thank you for helping me to remember that. And maybe I will be inspired to do some hiking where I am now here in Osaka, Japan. :-)

jill said...

Hey Ron, thanks! you're good at the reality. But you've got me wondering about that "fudge-sickle" safe in your travels!

Alpine lily, you nailed it, yes always find something lovely, pretty much on any trail!

Victoria! Ca va? Just checked out your blog and saw a move to Osaka, wow! I've always wanted to visit Japan and hike/ski the mountains and kayak, hope you get reasonably settled and somewhat comfortable with the language.

Suezy Proctor said...

Jill...I like the good with bad, opposites to contrast...I liked this post very much.

A few years ago, Dan and I were staying at Lake Quinault Lodge over New Year's for a few days. The most fierce windstorm whipped through the Olympic looked like total mayhem. Trails were closed indefinitely. Power was out most everywhere for some places for weeks. When we knew the windstorm was over, we took a gander out into the looked like one of your photos and much like what you describe. Driving home, instead of circling back from the north, we headed out torward Aberdeen. We felt like we were on another planet. Whole groves of trees were downed. It was amazing how big many of the trees were. (we are talking thousands of trees here, not a few) Mammoth root balls exposed...meadows of roots looking up to the sky, where the trees once stood tall. In some places, we had to drive off-road to get around the downed trees. I will never forget those images.

And still.....the thing I love about the Pacific Northwest is its diversity.

jill said...

Suezy, love your descriptions and imagery. And thanks for another thoughtful comment. Yes echo your sentiments on our region's diversity.

Dave Wenning said...

Now I see evidence of interesting weather, future nurse logs, forest succession and an opening in the canopy to nourish all the little saplings. I think it's a beautiful post.

jill said...

Ha, nice perspective Dave. It was just strange and a bit eerie down there, had visions of angry.Bigfoot or Sasquatch wreaking havoc in the woods. 😌😅