Friday, June 22, 2012

Church Creek Trail, Big Frog

7 miles 2,400 feet total elvation gain:

This trail was mostly destroyed by Simpson aka Green Diamond aka Solomon aka Olympic Panel and the Forest service.  This trail used to start at the Skokomish River and end Upper Satsop Lake.  Now only two segments are left a ¼ mile segment that goes to the shelter and a 4 mile segment that starts on a logging road near the Skokomish and ends on a logging road near the Satsop Lakes
<><><><><><><><> Someone stole the trailhead sign <><><><><><><><>

I hit the trail head at about 10:15 and was surprised to see another vehicle there.  This is a little used trail and this was on a weekday so I thought for sure I would have the trail all to myself.  The trailhead sign is gone.  The road past the trail has been churned up and destroyed to the point that it would be difficult to hike on it now.  I don’t like the way road decommissioning is done, it takes away foot access, churns up the dirt and introduces invasive weeds such  as tansy ragwort.

Bob Wood mentions this tree in the Olympic Mountains Trail Guide
Link to book on the top left of this page

Calypso orchid

Right at the start of the trail and in the middle of the path I saw the liverwort Pellia, this is a little used trail.  This also tells me that Pellia likes disturbed areas.  I saw a lot of Pellia on this hike but I only saw one Conocephalum.  I was really surprised to find Sphagnum moss about a mile up the trail.  I also saw avalanche lily, marsh marigolds, snow bank false morel, and a giant frog.
<><><><><><><><> Sphagnum moss <><><><><><><><> Pellia liverwort in middle of trail <><><><><><><><> Pellia with sporophytes on side of trail much higher up

The route starts out going straight up, up and up. There is  slight break where the route crosses a logging road that was put in but thankfully was never used for logging.  On the road there was  a lot of snow and a few iffy looking snow bridges.  Once back on the trail most of the snow was gone.  There was a bit of snow on the way up to the pass but the pass was snow free.  After going over the pass the trail turns sharply and can be hard to follow in the snow.  But I had an old track log in my GPS and I had some foot prints to follow.
Iffy snow bridge with culvert under just half of it

The road walk section was the most treacherous

At one point I had to cross over two logs and I found a great big frog playing dead on one of the logs.  I took quite a few pictures of the frog since it was sitting so still and then I left it to continue sitting.

Once I went over the pass all the Sphagnum moss was gone.  About 1 mile from the lake I ran into two men on the trail. They were as surprised as me to see someone else on the trail.  The younger man wanted to talk about fishing but the older man kept saying that standing there and talking was a waste of time.  Ah well, little did he know that my father is a very famous fisherman in these parts.
Upper Satsop Lake

The lake was beautiful and clear until Patches jumped into it.  There was the usual number of rough skinned newts swimming up to the surface for air.  If I could find my polarizer and the time I could get a good picture of them.  I soaked my feet a bit but the lake bottom was gravelly and I was worried about stepping on a fish hook.  I found a blob of rough skinned newt eggs that had been laid underwater but had become high and dry.  They still looked healthy though.  I put them a few feet into the lake. 

 I think these are rough skinned newt eggs

Taricha granulosa? eggs found out of water

On the shore I had tea and sushi.  Sushi from the employee appreciation luncheon I went to the day before.  It was a nice lunch.  I think I spent about an hour at the lake before I turned back.  The lake shore trail was weedy and covered with the same logs as last time. 

I felt good but a little too hot on the uphill section of the hike out.  At one point I had some route finding difficulty.  Strangely, finding my way out was harder than finding my way in; I was getting tired.  A few miles before the end of the hike I felt quite tired and was looking forward to seeing my truck.
One way track and elevation log

Avalanche lilly Little brown mushrooms

Giga snow bank false morel and some Pellia My truck at the trailhead

The bare spot is a divide between Hood Canal and Grays Harbor

<><><><><><><><> Always up for a good swim <><><><><><><><>

Lady slipper

Slime mold perhaps
Mucilago crustacea
Beetles on white slime mold

Witches butter


Snow near the pass

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