Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Change of Plans

Today is my birthday, and I figured I'd spend it a lot like a did last year - hanging out at the city beach. But after Saturday's hike, that no longer sounded appealing. I wanted to get out and hike again, have an adventure. I checked a listing of trails closer to home, and chose Mineral Point which is rated easy. About the same distance as Saturday's hike, but with only 200 ft gain in elevation, not 1000 ft. Easy peasy, and a perfect day for it. I headed the 15 or so miles to Garfield Bay, near my destination.

I'd not been out this way before. What a gorgeous view this little community has of Lake Pend Orielle. My directions were a bit sparse, and I made a couple of wrong turns before finding the road leading up to the trailhead, surprised to see signs telling me it was another 4 miles.

And those 4 miles were along a narrow dirt road climbing up into the mountains.

But hey, I have an Outback so no problem. I felt like a Subaru commercial, the one about letting the car wear the dirt like a badge of honor.

So obviously, this trailhead starts at the top and heads down.

Within a few feet, I was met by this stunning view.

So the first section of the trail skirted a bluff with more breathtaking views.

And trust me, it was a straight down drop if you wandered off the trail while gawking. I have a bit of a problem with heights, which I never think about until I'm standing on the edge of one of these viewpoints. Um, back away and don't look down...

The trail heads down fairly quickly away from that bluff and into the woods. Switchbacks speed the decent. Those two trees on the right are huge - the trail beside them only a couple of feet wide.

Gnarly limbs on that one.

The trail winds through cool dark stands of big cedars, ponderosa, and perhaps white pine? Not sure about the last one. I was struck by the quiet - only an occasional chirp of squirrel or bird. I know that this trail is supposed to end at water's edge, but I feel a long way from the lake.

The trail heads up - I can hear a boat motor so know the lake is near. At 45 minutes in, I'm still on the side of the mountain with the lake way over there.

I top out and round a corner - they've place a bench to provide hikers a place to rest and enjoy the view.

And somewhere down there is my destination. I'm not buying this "mere 200 ft elevation change" stuff. I'm having second thoughts about going the whole two miles, thinking about the steep sections I'll have to negotiate on the way back. This is not what I envisioned when they said this was an easy hike.

But of course, I forge on, enticed by these views.

Still looks like a long ways down to me.

And it was but I finally reached the end of the trail. Here I'm looking back the way I've come, the sign confirming the 2 miles back to the car.

But I'm still not at the beach - I'm at the camp ground which is perched above the water.

I can hear people over at the beach - way over there.

Kids are canoeing by.

And over the other direction a family has arrived by boat. I can hear them splashing in the water.

How beautiful is this? I'm so lucky to live here.

And I've discovered I have not hiked to a remote beach only accessible by boat or foot, but to the Mineral Point Camp ground accessible by car. Hmmm.

To be honest, I didn't want to hike back up that trail. I'd absorbed the gorgeous views. I dreaded the steep sections, particularly as it neared the top. I knew where I was, remembered passing the sign for this campground, and also remembered that the road had only a brief gentle incline until it flattened out on the way to the trailhead. I decided I was hiking back via the road. Was it 2 miles or 1 from the sign? Don't care, and I headed up to the main road, thinking it wasn't far. Slight miscalculation - it was actually a pretty steep mile, but by the time I figured that out, it was too late to turn back. I actually did pretty well hiking up it, and then the main road was as I remembered. Not totally devoid of views, and an easy (my definition of easy) 2 mile walk.

Again, I saw few wildflowers - this one was along the side of the road near the trailhead. Walking the road, I noticed several swampy areas I'd missed when driving by in the car. It always fascinates me to be on the top of a mountain, peer through trees and see an open meadow and water like that. In less than an hour, I was back to the car and more than ready to head home. The hike, including picture taking, had taken about 2 hrs 45 minutes, and instead of hiking a shorter route than Saturday, I'd actually hike a mile farther - 5 miles in all. So much for slowly building up my stamina. But I felt I handled it better physically so no harm done.

I finished off my birthday with a trip to Dub's Drive-In for the classic summertime meal: deluxe burger, fries and a malt.


Wil Opio Oguta said...

Congratulations Sheila! You spend your birthday in a lovely way.

Fran├žoise said...

Wow! Beautiful pictures.
And a happy birthday to you! (a little late)

Connie Rose said...

Happy Birthday Sheila! And thanks for the lovely photos!

Bonnie said...

Sheila, what beautiful photos!!! Man what a view! It is so gorgeous at SP; you are lucky to live there. Great narrative as well. The photo of the edge of the cliff...I am right there with you about heights...not my deal!!!
I have a favor to ask...will you retrieve my paintings on the 10th or 11th when you pick your piece up from the POAC pleeese. I will try to get up to SP shortly thereafter. I have to be in Tacoma on the 9-10 to assist my daughter with some unless this changes and you don't mind grabby my work as well, I would appreciate it! I have 3 mid sized works there.
thank you!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks everyone. Happy to share.

cedar chest said...

Wow! That is a very unusual way to celebrate your birthday but I think that way is a great idea. All the photos that you are just so fascinating. I will try that kind of celebration on my birthday.

Cathie said...

The perfect birthday. And what an adventuregirl you are. Did you bring a can of bear spray?? I wouldn't leave home without it! A Wonderful journey - good for the soul.

Deborah said...

Gorgeous photos! Happy belated birthday!

The Idaho Beauty said...

No, I didn't have bear spray, but I sure thought about it once I got going. When I got to those very quiet stretches of deep woods, I started getting nervous, so I did a lot of whistling and hand clapping just in case! Crossed my fingers that the bears were all higher up eating huckleberries...