Saturday, September 25, 2021

More Trails at the Woods

Click for readable size. Look at all those trails!

Appreciate the comments that some of you have been leaving on my previous hiking posts telling me you enjoy hiking along with me. I aim to please! And so here's yet another hiking post as I work my way through another set of trails at Pine Street Woods. After getting 2 inches of rain over the weekend, I again scoured the weather forecast for a suitable hiking day, and found one not unlike the day from the week before. I'd noted icons for trails that weren't showing on map I'd printed out a couple of years ago, so I took time to get a good pic of the current map as shown on the sign at the trailheads. I've put in red arrows showing the two trails I chose for this day. Showing the trails outside of the Woods boundary, this map makes clear how one could put together hikes in a variety of lengths and difficulties both summer and winter.

I began with the Outhouse trail since it was so short - just .3 long to its end, no loop. Its icon is a crescent moon. Those familiar with actual outhouses would recognize that! This way also hooks up with the Butterfly Trail and Grandma's Trail.

I've been curious why this trail would have that name. It follows round the parking lot where this recently completed outhouse can be spotted through the trees. That must be it.

Nope. I stand corrected. Not too much farther along this actual old and not exactly usable outhouse has been left in place right next to the trail.

This is actually less a trail than a one lane forest road, possibly used by loggers at one point or the private owners to get around their property.

Not much elevation along this trail as it gently rises away from the parking lot area and crosses under the transmission lines. Note the large boulder up by the tower.

Back into the woods, I am struck by how very tall the trees are through here, be they evergreens or deciduous.

And chuckle at the way the woodpeckers have been going at this poor tree.

In no time at all I was at the end of this trail, as signified by the sign and a few yards further on a robust fence blocking the road. Here you can see in the background the older barbed wire fences I've seen elsewhere designating private land "neighbors". Time to turn around and head back to the trailhead.

Trail two to try is Grandma's Trail, the icon being a smiling face with glasses and hair wound in a topknot.

Now this is a proper trail. It winds between two large boulders - one sees them everywhere. No offense to Grandma (and grandmas these days don't always fit the old stereotype), but I did wonder if this would be an easy short trail at .4 miles to its end because of its name. Nope. It quickly steepened and twisted into a trail I'd bet delights those mountain bikers, and there was evidence that they'd been using it. Had a slight bit of second thoughts, wondering if it was a good idea to start a trail going downhill that you know you'll have to come back up when you aren't nearly as fresh. Oh well, carry on.

I have to admit that, for as much as I love hiking where I can get good views, I equally love hiking into deep woods, and that was a bit where this trail took me. As it came to a flat spot, I was surprised to come upon this boardwalk. It definitely looked a bit marshy in this area compared to the dusty trails I'd gotten used to.

A little further on was this little bridge. No stream at this point but you could tell that one runs through here at other times of the year.

More surprises - one of those very tall trees succumbed to the wind. How often do you think about what's below the ground as you admire a tree? All those roots weren't enough to hold the tree in place.

And some nice use of trees that probably succumbed to wind as well or for some other reason needing to come down, lining the trail and perhaps encouraging those bikers to stay on the trail .

Deep woods tend to stay damper and I was delighted to see this familiar kind of moss covering this slender trunk.

And here I am at the end of Grandma's Trail where it hooks up with the Upper Greta's Segway Trail. If I'd not hiked the Outhouse Trail first, I'd certainly head off onto this one now that I know it would take me to the Homestead Trail where it starts its downward trend.

Ok then, time to turn around and face that uphill trek back to the trailhead.

And indeed, I made it back to the parking lot with less question than I anticipated. My stamina must be increasing! It occurred to me that I haven't been taking any photos to prove it was me walking these trails but I have to tell you, selfies are not easy when you don't have a smart phone and a selfie stick!

Looking ahead at the weather, I spot one day when I might be able to get another hike in. There's another trail out here I'm keen to explore.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Return To Pine Street Woods

Another window of opportunity this week, a day ten degrees cooler than last week, so off I went again to Pine Street Woods to hike that Meadow Trail. I would cross that Butterfly Trail more than once before I was done. I think it is more meant for mountain bikes than hikers. And I did spot some people on bikes this time.

I was right about it being more out in the open than other trails and to my surprise, there were several benches along the first flat stretch and even one out in the meadow. Not the best time of year to enjoy the meadow - dry and not much in the way of enjoyable flora. The plaque on this bench says "One thing about the passing of time . . . it never stops. Enjoy as much time as you can with those you love (make sure to tell them you love them whenever possible) . . .Because one day that opportunity will be gone . . . in a blink of an eye. Don't take anything for granted. - Brian Harvey"

More trees of interest - these not only joined at the hip but gently twisting over each other.

And more birch trees competing side by side with pine trees.

I always like this delicate green moss that one usually sees hanging from branches, but in this case, it was right on the trunk of the tree. It's a vital food source for deer and elk come winter.

The Meadow trail is broad and graveled about a third of the way before it veers off into the woods onto a packed dirt path.

Remember me mentioning that some of the trails in this community woods hook up with older established trails outside of the Trust Land? Here is one such trail primarily meant for mountain bikes (thus the "momentum" designation) and according to the sign, runs through private land. 

And here's another trail that, yes, runs through Sherwood Forest. There's a story there but I don't know it. This one, according to the sign, is for expert mountain bike riders.

Soon I was back to the meadow where a small herd of whitetail deer flashed their tails before heading into the woods, all too quickly for me to capture with my camera. No great scenic sights on this trail, but from the meadow, looking over the tops of trees, there are the ever present mountains in the background.

That was really a short hike, less than a mile with few inclines. I was not ready to go home. So I headed up the Homestead Trail where it connects to the Meadow trail and takes you on the other side of the meadow before ducking into woods again. This trail had a lot more elevation to it and took me to where one could head down Upper Greta's Segway. I've hiked the lower part of that trail - see this post.

I really should have left this trail for a day of its own. Like the Crooked Tree Trail, it was a steady climb up and then pretty steep down before dumping me back at the meadow, leaving me more tuckered out than I anticipated (I wasn't exactly staggering but it was close, with lots of assist from my walking stick - lol). I'd hoped that because of its name I'd get a glimpse of an old cabin but the only thing hinting at a homestead history was a stretch of old barbed wire fence. And no real views for all that climbing, just a glimpse now and then of those mountains off in the distance. Still, I think I'd hike it again, going in the opposite direction and when I was fresh!


Saturday, September 11, 2021

Still Just Too Nice

I looked at the weather forecast, smoke forecast, and my schedule for last week and spotted a small window of opportunity to finally go explore a new trail. I had every intention of getting over to the new Pine Street Woods public hiking/biking/cross country skiing area last summer but was thwarted by pretty much the same issues that have kept me off the trails this year. It's a short 15-20 minute drive across town and up a one lane dirt road with one switchback and several blind corners requiring one to keep to the 15 mph speed limit. But once up to trailheads and visitor center there's a large parking lot and this informative sign.

I'd printed out a map last year to scope out the trails, happy to note that most were around a mile - I don't have the stamina for long hikes like I used to. Was also happy to see that several of them include viewpoints and I am all about the view when I hike. The other interesting thing about these trails is that some link up with older trails outside of the Woods proper. So really, there seems to be something for everyone here. I'd been dithering over taking the Meadow Trail or the Crooked Tree Trail but since this day was around 80 degrees, it was a no brainer to choose the trail heading up into the trees. Since many trails start from generally the same area, I looked around for my Crooked Tree Trail marker to see that pictograms would be my guide.

My trail was a gentle but steady uphill climb along a lovely smooth and relatively wide path that soon ducked into the woods. I was keeping my eye out for crooked trees along the way.

Couldn't help envisioning a Disney cartoon or two looking at this tree with a hip or backside stuck out.

And over here, two trees deciding to be joined at the hip before soaring up into the air.

The quilter in me couldn't help but notice something we do all the time with striped fabric or parallel quilting lines - setting them at right angles to each other. Here it's the bark on one tree running up and down while the bark of the birch next to it shows horizontal lines.

Look how straight and true and very tall they rise as if in competition to see which can grow higher. Looks pretty even to me. No crooked trees here.

When not being intrigued by trees, I get intrigued by the occasional large boulder carried from elsewhere and set down as area's ice age glaciers and floods moved across northern Idaho.

This second one along the trail showed more wear and tear rather than the usual smooth surfaces. The last photo shows a large piece along the back that has cleaved away from the main boulder.

Starting to huff and puff a bit, I finally reached the top of the trail and to my pleasant surprise, the reward of the trail's namesake, the crooked tree!

The small sign in front of it did not tell me any history of the tree or what it is overlooking as I thought it would, but instead this plea to be respectful of it.

They're not kidding about this tree having to work hard to live on this spot. Just look at the exposed roots on either side.

Click for a larger view and spot the sliver of lake in the background

In fact, this is pretty much one big rock outcropping. Just to the left of the tree is an expanse of smooth unbroken rock yards wide.

Just in front of it are smaller but still big rocks as the ground slopes away.

But the trees refuse to be deterred from making a home on this outcropping - hard to see how the roots find purchase.


And what about the view? Mountains higher than where I stand, a bit of haze but nothing to worry about.

I zoomed in on the bit of water I could see far off and think it is where the lake starts to become the river outlet. Always houses along the water . . .

. . . and up every narrow canyon. This may be part of a farm as there once was quite a bit of ranching in the area.

Time to head back down the trail. I'd noted on the map and while I was hiking that trails often run next to and cross each other. Here you can see one of the trails that are used by mountain bikes, their tire treads in the dirt, where it crosses my trail. I didn't see any bikes this day.

But not far from the top I was very surprised to see this abandoned car, complete with bullet holes! Well, this WAS once private property but even if it were not, it's not that unusual to run across abandoned cars and trucks like this in northern Idaho. I'm guessing that for now, it's probably more trouble and cost to try to remove it than the Trust can afford.

Local joke - a very large plywood rendition of Big Foot

I do like a loop trail so you see something different coming back to the trail head. And I look forward to returning to the Woods to check out other trails. In the meantime, Big Foot is happy to see you go.