I may regret this tomorrow, but if so, it was soooo worth it!
I've been wanting to explore this relatively new Pend d'Oreille Bay Trail that starts about a half mile from City Beach, snugged in between the roughly north/northeast shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille and the railroad right of way. It's been a long haul for the group pushing this project forward. Most of the land was privately owned so there has been much work to raise money to buy parcels or encourage donations of land and secure easements where outright ownership was impossible. And then too, much work to improve the trail, making it accessible not just to hikers but to bicyclists, wheelchairs and in winter, cross country skiers. If you click on the photo of the map, you may be able to see that the trail is not complete yet. There are plans to extend it about another mile, essentially connecting the towns of Sandpoint, Ponderay and Kootenai via a non-motorized route.
|"Sitting Wall" installed in 2014 courtesy of The Rotary Club
This is my first "real" hike of the season, as I claw my way back to health and regain some stamina. It was so good to get off the pavement and onto the well-maintained trail, which although mostly flat, does have a few small elevations, something I really need. My usual daily walk is totally on pavement, perfectly flat and around a mile in length. (Even when I change it up by walking at City Beach or along Sand Creek nearby, it is all paved.) Time to find out how much further I can go. If I make it to the turn-around point and back, I will have tripled my usual walk.
The first part of the trail goes through "Humbird Mill Park", former site of one of the largest sawmills in the area. Although it closed in the 1930's, there are still vestiges of it along the lake.
And of course, the local graffiti artists have been hard at work.
There's more to see when the lake levels are drawn down in the fall, a practice that didn't start until flood controls were put into place with the building of Albeni Falls Dam in 1955. One historical account talks of piers the company built out into the lake to receive logs by float or by train. That might be what is showing just above the surface here or merely parts of the mill on land that once only had to contend with the natural levels of the lake.
A little further along the trail I spotted a bench, and then this place to enjoy a picnic with such a view!
But once out of the Humbird Mill Park section, the trail continues through trees, mostly shady and cooled by the breezes off the lake.
The only sound to hear is the water splashing against the rocks, the wind through the trees and the occasional bird.
Maybe halfway to the turnaround point, I came upon this "Cairn of Thanks". It's probably 5 ft tall and inscribed with the names of people and organizations that helped make this trail possible. There are names on all four sides, but here are three of them.
I made it the mile and a half to the turnaround point, which actually is not far from my house as the crow flies - I'd driven to the trail and nearly walked home. This is also next to the former site of a smelter - still a hazard from lead in the soil and one of the next big hurdles in extending the trail. I looked back toward Sandpoint and City Beach area (the dark area along the water mid-picture) from whence I came. Can't really tell in this picture, but you can also see the long bridge filling the gap between that dark area and the mountains on the left.
And this is looking more or less east towards Montana - my big beautiful lake...
I was more focused on monitoring how I was doing as I trudged the bulk of the trail than noting "inspiration" along the way. But now that I had succeeded in reaching the turnaround point not too worse for wear, I made me way back a little more leisurely and with more awareness of possible "artsy" things. A yellowed leaf along the path...
and odd shadows far from a source.
But I was feeling the length of the walk and looking for that bench I'd seen earlier so I could take a sit for a bit. As I rested and let my gaze wander, that's when the truly "artsy" impulse kicked in. This shot was not because that big weed was aesthetically pleasing. It was an exercise in composition.
And after staring at the mountains for a bit, I picked out this formation and worked on framing it with foliage. This is cropped way down. The haziness is smoke from the many wildfires we've had in the area lately.
Then I spotted the post and dry grass, liking the color palette of the grass against the water. These have also been cropped.
And finally, as my eyes roamed the area around me, I spotted bright red berries. I have no idea what this bush is but it seemed odd that nobody - not even birds - had been pecking away at what looked like fully ripe fruit.
Now a bit rested and knowing I wasn't far from the trailhead parking lot, I completed my 3 mile hike, feeling great and so glad I seized the opportunity. How amazing that I trail like this is a 10 minute drive from my house. It mostly felt like I was far from civilization, enjoying a state park like the one I hiked at last year.