Yesterday was my birthday, and I hadn't planned anything special. After all, I feel like I've been partying all month what with treating myself to three of the eight Festival at Sandpoint concerts, shopping at the Arts & Crafts Fair and the Gem-Bead show, and spending Friday with my art group making the rounds of the Artist's Studio Tour. Fun fun fun all month long! Maybe I'd just stay home and have some fun fun fun in the studio. Oh, but the weather was too nice and I've been wanting for too long to check out the hiking trail at the aptly named Round Lake about ten miles south of where I live.
There are many small lakes in this part of Idaho, leftovers from a colder time when ice sheets and glaciers and ice age floods carved out the topography. This one just happens to be part of a state park and so has camping and picnicking facilities, a beach for swimming and a dock for fishing off of, a place to put in small watercraft and a trail system that circles the 58-acre lake - 2 to 3 miles around depending upon which routes you take. I took the Trapper's trail.
This trail follows mostly just above the shoreline and periodically has signage telling about the wildlife and ecosystem you may observe. Not being an early riser, I was hiking at mid-day so most of the wildlife was keeping to itself.
Much of the trail winds "under canopies of western white pine, Engelmann spruce, grand fir, lodgepole pine, black cottonwood, paper birch, red alder, and Rock Mountain maple." It's the end of summer, a dryness to the air, not much in the way of wildflowers, everything looking a bit spent.
Even the lilypads looked spent in spite of residing in the water.
And yet here on the side of this tree, bright green moss.
Not far from it, a reminder of forest fires that have passed through this area that can get so tinder dry.
And evidence of the recent winds from thunderstorms that took down so many trees in our area.
Round lake empties into a small stream that flows into the next lake along. I have a real fondness for the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Northwest, the smooth round rocks they flow over, all shades of my favorite neutral color.
Soon the trail crosses the creek via this bridge and switchbacks up the hillside. The trees seem less dense on this side of the lake, and there are tons of windfalls.
I always think trees grow straight up but often those that no longer have bark reveal a slight twist to the growth. Woodpeckers, no doubt, have been busy making those holes.
The trees are so straight and tall through here, and as I said, everything with a sense of dryness and age, that I was startled to realize I'd come upon some young trees, looking fresh and new. These weren't much taller than I am.
Couldn't resist a backlit shot.
Plenty to look at on the ground as well. Roots across the trail that looked like snakes.
Lots and lots of exposed roots in some places.
And this root popping up a burl-like round protrusion in the middle of the trail. I've not seen anything quite like that before.
At the half-way point, I found a bench to rest upon and have a bit of lunch while I watched these boys float by.
They weren't the only ones enjoying the water. I saw other boats and at least one paddle board.
The terrain was a bit different along the second half of the trail - getting steeper.
I spotted both red-orange and almost turquoise blue berries on ground cover, but not many.
Couldn't miss this rotting birch next to the trail.
And then realized there was a virtual birch graveyard running up the hillside.
One stretch went over a rock outcropping - granite mostly.
And when I looked up the hillside, I saw this very large rock, no doubt carried there by the ancient ice sheet.
As I neared the east side of the lake I came upon a very large tree, still alive but the branches of it's lower half bare and looking dead. So many branches, such a tangle! Taking in its girth and age, it had a presence that was almost spooky. Maybe I've seen too many Tolkien movies...
Soon I was crossing a creek again, this one feeding into the lake. One of the amazing things about northern Idaho is that its mountains can either hold tightly together in narrow canyons or open out to surround farmland. This view shows just such farmland that abuts the state park.
I was nearly back to where I'd started, but decided to walk the short loop called the swamp tromp. There I found another bench by the water where I could rest and sketch. This old snag intrigued me with its half-on half-off bark.
And the last bit of intrigue before reaching the car - these two different species of trees uniting.
I really enjoyed my time in the woods, something I did constantly growing up in this area but do not do often enough anymore. I stopped off at the library on the way home to replenish my reading supply and spent the rest of the afternoon on my back deck enjoying a different kind of solitude, birthday cake and iced coffee.
And to top off the day, here's my birthday dinner ready to pop into the oven - crab & creamcheese-stuffed salmon fillet. What a great day!