Trail Difficulty – Easy (Not Really)
Trail Type – Nature Trail/TowPath
Distance – 7.2 miles
Elevation Gain – 500 Feet
Camera in hand we headed out for Hike 10 and the Weekly Photo Challenge; Journey to the South Fork Tieton River. This week I learned that trail guides lie – either that or they are written by 20 year olds. Our plan is to work up to 11 miles and then tackle elevation. This path was listed as “easy” with an elevation gain of 500 feet. I am pretty sure I walked the elevation multiple times.
We pretty much had the trail all to ourselves; there has been a fire ten years ago and the area was still recovering. You could still smelled charred trees occasionally and the views were breathtaking – well, I was out of breath anyway.
Right at the trail head we encountered a problem – there was a suspension bridge. I was very brave.
Having braved the bridge of death, I continued on. Half a mile in I was aware that I had made a mistake – this was not a leisurely stroll in the woods. Fortunately, nature kept me hooked as I chased this butterfly.
As we moved through a meadow filled with scrub oaks, we started to ascend again – at this point I was either going to push on or go back not meeting my goal of 7 miles. The path got narrow …
Then it got scary.
Towards the end of the trail we finally started seeing chipmunks – this one clearly thought it was invisible as I took about 30 shots and he is frozen in the same place in all of them.
Finally at the end of the trail we sat to enjoy the view and catch our breath until we realized we were under surveillance.
My Poor Long-Suffering Husband joked that the Alpaca was going to get us – but we stopped laughing when he started to follow us. We decided to be adventurous and avoid being eaten by following the path next to the irrigation canal.
After a mile or so I looked back and saw something white – my husband said it was a bag and looked through the binoculars. It was the Alpaca – he stopped laughing again and urged me to walk faster.
While we were walking we could hear a grouse vocalizing his mating call; then we saw him. Grouse have bright-colored inflatable sacs on the sides of their necks – I was able to wait for him to vocalize and get a picture before my husband nervously said he lost sight of the Alpaca. Comforted by his courage and bravery, we moved on.
Finally safe from the rabid wool machine, we descended down a switch back to ground level. I was too terrified to take photos.
While we’re not ready to gain elevation yet, I am glad I stuck with the trail. It was an amazing day – though I almost slept in my car to avoid walking up the stairs to my bedroom.
I can’t wait to see what happens next week.