Friday, July 18, 2008

Church Creek Trail

The Church Creek trail winds through a climax Hemlock forest then over the divide between the Skokomish and Satsop Rivers and then ends at Satsop Lakes. Like most trails in the area parts of it have been destroyed by logging but good parts still remain.

The wild man of the Wynoochie is said to have lived up here and the shootout was up here somewhere too.

This trail is in need of a little TLC after the December 3rd windstorm and it is getting overgrown from lack of use. I would like to see more people using this trail so I will reveal a secret about it. I have found Matsutake Mushrooms on this trail.

I started my hike at about 1l:00 am and finished up a little after 6pm. The trail starts out climbing right away. This trail used to start a the Skokomish river and went all the way to the Wynoochiee River, but logging destroyed the middle section and now the trail is divided in two. One section is just 1/2 mile long and leads to the Church Creek Shelter on the Skokomish river. The upper section is about 3.5 miles long, it starts at a switch back on a logging road and ends at Satsop Lakes.

This trail is rarely level but the giant trees will take your mind off the hike. On this trail you will find what forest ecologists call the Climactic Climax. That is the climax forest for this region. This is pure undisturbed old growth, this type of forest only happens after an area has been undisturbed by both humans and nature for many hundreds of years. There are not many place any where on earth that are in this condition. This forest is a rare jewel and it deserves protection.

This forest is the star of this hike and the lake at the end is icing on the cake. The lake is filled with newts or water puppies. These are little salamanders that have to come up for air. They have brown backs and orange bellies. The lake is very pretty to look at and you can drive to the lake if you start out on the Wynoochie side.

I saw avalanche lillies, shooting stars, columbines some pretty fuzzy white flowers and solomon's seal. I felt like I was in a sub-alpine meadow for part of the hike.

There were about 10 blow downs on the Skokomish side of the divide and I had to climb over some ice in a gully. On the Satsop side of the divide there are not real blow downs but the trail is getting over grown and I had trouble finding the trail in a few places. Since the trail just follows a creek down to the lakes I was in no danger of getting lost. I did not have much trouble finding the trail on the way up. The trail around the lake is massively overgrown and is basically just a tiny path through the luscious lake-side growth. The lake it self looks to be very deep and muddy.

I was going to hike out the to road near the Satsop lake but I heard people coming my way and was not sure if I was safe out in the middle of no where if these people were not nice people. I listened to their conversation as they got closer to me and I heard one of them talking about his insulated hiking boots and how he had them when he was in jail and how everyone else in the jail wondered how he managed to get such great boots on the “inside”.

Great! I know that in America we have more people in jail then in China, I also know that over 1 in 100 adults is now in jail so for an American to have been in jail is not such a big deal. But why take chances I thought so I turned around and hightailed it to the other side of the lake. Eventually two men appeared back on the far shore where I had been, they both had beer in their hands, clearly you can drive to the lake from the other side. They did not hike down to the lake they just looked at the view from the forest and drank their beer for about ten minutes and then they left. I was probably never in any danger and they were mostly likely nice folks but still I think I did the right thing. I don’t think they actually saw sitting there on the far lake shore watching them. It is this type of thing and my paranoid reaction to it that causes me to look for the most isolated trails. Hiking is only therapeutic for me if I don’t see to many other people on the trail. It was this type of paranoia that caused me to get caught after dark on the Dry Creek Trail

I rate this hike
(out of 5 possible mushrooms)

Beauty :

This up and down hike is about 7 miles round trip with about 2,800 feet total elevation gain. 60 Miles on my new shoes

Cost of gas $1.71 because I was already camping at the Church Creek Shelter!

GPS Coordinates
Trail Head: N47 26.928 W123 29.437
Trail End: N47 25.570 W123 31.083
High Point: N47 26.313 W123 30.019
Lake: N47 25.791 W123 30.862

The road is washed out just AFTER the trail head

The Trail Head

Profile of an up and down and then up and down hike. I wandered off trail a bit so ended up hiking more then 6.5 miles.

Track Logs. White circle show area that is mostly old growth forest

Snow near the pass

Log Bridge over the lazy Satsop inlet stream

Strange Growth on a Blueberry

A Climatic Climax forest of Hemlock and Cedar

Solomon's Seal True or False?

Interesting Varigation on a Trillium leaf.

These flower petals reveal their leaf origins

An interesting tree near the half way point

Satsop Lake possible home of John Turnow the wild man of the Wynoochie

A bananna slug that caught my eye near the trail head

60 Miles on my new shoes but only because I brought my green superfeet insoles. It turns out that my "new" shoes have a paper lining under the removable insoles and there is a piece of steel imbedded in that lining.

  After getting wet several times the paper lining must have been destroyed and out came the metal and the lining leaving only the rubber of the sole inside my shoes. But I had brought my green superfeet liners because I was also backpacking in the area and wanted some extra arch support. So with the liners my shoes were just fine. Without the liners I would have needed to call off my hike. My family camped out at a shelter on the Skokomish and I hiked out from there. We are trying to stay away from home as much as possible because I no longer feel safe in my own home. Hiking and camping are my therapy.


mimilu said...

I am glad to see that you are able to hike again. Sorry you had to cancel your road trip and that you are having such a hard time. I hope you feel better soon.

Gregg P said...

I am always more leary of people when they are in an area that is accessable to vehicles. That is not a bad call.