Saturday, September 12, 2015

Play Day In The Park

Lake Pend Oreille - Farragut State Park Shoreline Trail

Goodness, I've let the week get away from me. I partially blame it on the sudden change in weather from cool 50's and rain to high 70's and mostly clear skies. Feels like summer has returned and I'm taking advantage of being out in it when I can. As I studied the forecast for the week, Wednesday looked an excellent day to get out hiking on a new trail. Yes, along my beautiful Lake Pend Oreille again.

Top arrow shows my hiking route near home, bottom arrow shows this day's route

But this time, I'm exploring the opposite end of where I live and walk along it, another gem in Northern Idaho - Farragut State Park - a 35 mile drive away. Yes, this lake is huge...and deep as well. Click on the picture for the details. Originally the site of a Naval training base during World War II, it now provides civilian recreation in the form of a museum, camping, numerous hiking trails, beaches and boat launches.

For this maiden adventure, I settled on hiking a portion of Shoreline Trail, because you know how I like my water views, it is rated easy and can be accessed from several different spots. Didn't feel like I could commit to the full 5.6 mile round trip hike but by starting near Beaver Bay Beach, I could keep it to about 3 miles. I headed what felt like north but actually more northeast according to the map, pleased to find the trail actually does hug the shoreline and provides the uneven ground and gentle inclines to give my legs some exercise.

Another reason I picked this trail is because it is one included in the book On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods by Bruce Bjornstad & Eugene Kiver. The guide tells you what features to look for along the way that ties in with the Ice Age activities in this area. I had an excellent junior high school geology teacher who really sparked my interest in the subject, and I always like to know and understand what I am looking at if I can. For instance, the book tells me that these rocks were probably brought here from a nearby limestone quarry to use as riprap to control erosion and are "composed of unusual, zebra-like-striped rocks of Cambrian-age limestone." They certainly caught my eye and would still be puzzling me without my handy guidebook.

Can you say "Shibori" ? That was my first thought!

This is a huge boulder easily 4 ft high, which the book refers to as "granitic glacial erratic." In this shaded spot it is covered with pale bluish-green lichen.

No help in identifying these much smaller rocks. One looking sheered off to expose many lines going every which way like quilting stitches in an abstract piece, the other having a strong lavender hue and a single horizontal white vein - quartz perhaps?

Too late in one season, too early in the next for a great deal of flora excitement. However, I did spot these daisy-like flowers - just these two and no others along the trail - notable for those deep reddish orange centers. There were also a few asters here and there but not much else flowering.

And then there were these big and bright rose hips trying to steal the show!

But then the reminder that autumn will soon arrive in a blaze of a different color.

After about an hour of walking, picture taking and absorbing the peace and beauty of this section of the trail, I arrived at a boat launch. The trail continues out of the frame to the left, I later discovered only another half mile to it's northern trail-head. Had I known I was that close, I might have continued! Instead, I took a break and watched the loading and unloading of a few boats before turning back. Across the way, you can see how steep the mountain is, and along the craggier spots, one might be lucky enough to spot some mountain goats of this variety. Note to self: remember to bring some binoculars next time.

I would have liked a different return route, but then again, you always see something a little different looking the other way. There were several huh-I-didn't-notice-that moments. This is looking back toward the end of the lake and Buttonhook Bay, the mountains losing their steep cragginess.

Near to where I parked and started my trek is a walk-in picnic area, the perfect spot to have a bit of lunch, enjoy the view and read just a bit. Ahhh - so peaceful...

Then rather than return on the upper trail to the parking lot, I followed the Shoreline trail as it skirts below it and around to Beaver Bay Beach. I'm unclear as to whether this is a natural little bay or man-made one, but whichever, its greenish waters were a surprise - like a lagoon on a desert island.

This is a swimming spot, although the beachgoers I'd seen upon my earlier arrival were now gone. I'm not sure I'd want to swim in there though. What's making it so green? Swim they must though, if the building with large changing room, showers and toilets is any indication.

So a little sandy beach on the right and a more substantial thumb of land surrounding the swimming area on the left where big pines gave shade, a lovely wooden bench beckoned, and beyond that point of land just left of center - Buttonhook Bay and the farthest southern reaches of the lake. On my way up to the parking lot, I passed a sign where the Shoreline Trail continued saying it was only half a mile to the bay, a mile to an observation point. It was tempting...but I decided to save it for another day.

Instead, I got back in the car to check out the rest of the park. I saw several groups of deer feeding along the way, none of them the least bit worried about me encroaching on their space. They have learned there is safety from man within the boundaries of the park.

And finally, the last item on my list, to drive out to this observation point for a panoramic view.

And also to see for myself the damage from a forest fire earlier in the summer that threatened the small resort town of Bayview (also site of a US Naval Acoustic Research Detachment where large-scale submarine models are tested) and prompted evacuations of the park. Indeed - I could now see just how close it had come, Bayview being more or less behind and below those trees on the left and at the base of the mostly charred hillside. That hillside is also the site of the aforementioned limestone quarry.

Taken from my front steps - look closely for the faint line of the mountain in the center left

Also from my front steps looking more or less north

The smoke from this fire and the many others in Washington and northern Idaho in August filled our valley with smoke for several weeks, even though the closest fires were not even in range. It became so thick as to register in the extremely hazardous to all people range - particle readings as high as Beijing on its worst day. We'd had some smoky days last year when I was shocked to see how much it was obscuring the mountains near my house. But this year was worse, lasted much longer and gave a feeling of apocalypse. On the worst days the sun shown blood red through the pall. People were warned to stay inside and going on a hike of any kind was totally out of the question. So you can understand my added appreciation for a day like Wednesday and my eagerness to take advantage of it, because of all those terrible smoke-filled days of August.

Not the moon but the sun sinking behind the heavy layer of not clouds but smoke



Maggi said...

What a beautiful walk. No wonder you are appreciating the good days, that haze looks very sinister.

Sherrie Spangler said...

Your photos and descriptions make me almost feel like I was there. It looks very beautiful and peaceful. Glad the smoke has finally cleared for you.

The Inside Stori said...

Gosh, there’s so much inspiration in your photos…….the images could keep you busy for years. And it’s sad to think of what all that smoke/haze represents…...

The Idaho Beauty said...

Yes, Maggi, very sinister indeed. The contrast to what we know as normal does tend to make us that much more appreciative of the area we live in, lest we get too complacent. Wildfires are always a possibility we are well aware of, but this year has been over the top...

The Idaho Beauty said...

Sherrie, that would be my goal! Do wish you could join me sometime. I still cherish the memories of our hike through YOUR gem of a state park.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Mary, like I need more images for inspiration - lol. In fact, I resisted taking pics of the Ponderosa Pines and their highly textured bark, knowing I have done that so many times already! But those zebra rocks - those are new and intriguing.

Yes, sick at heart at how many miles and miles of forest have been affected, although we must remember that wildfires are a natural phenomenon (although some of the fires were human-caused) with cleansing and renewing properties. Still, they have displaced wildlife and destroyed homes and livelihoods. AND sullied our otherwise fresh clean air.

Michele Matucheski said...

Thanks for the walk--Felt like I was there! A lovely day for a walk! I LOVE those Shibori Rocks! And the fires -- My Friend Janna has been flying the fires there. She flies in the ams to give the firefighters an idea of how far and how fast the fire is moving/spreading, so the firefighters can set a gameplan for the afternoons.

Margaret Cooter said...

I've always loved the name of that lake, and it's good to see some pictures - what a lovely place!