Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday on "our" Lake Fork National Recreation Trail

Eight of us did an autumn check of the Lake Fork Trail, one of the Silverthread Outdoor Recreation Club assignments.  On October 27, the trail was dry, cool but sunny, and just as steep, rocky, and narrow as always.  This trail is not for slippered auto tourists.  It requires good hiking boots, good lungs (>10,000 feet with some steep stretches and lots of up and down), and well-conditioned legs.   However, even with these warnings, a few hundred yards of walking on this trail takes anyone into a special scenic forest environment beside a beautiful splashing creek
Its tread is often only 1 foot wide, crossing steep slopes and irregular rocks on the surface.  The work done after the big fire has held up well--from the bridge reinforcement to the clearing by Silverthreaders and the Forest Service crew. 
The Lake Fork Trail offers an interesting mixture of luxuriant stream-side forest in its first mile, then entering the charred remains of a spruce forest for the rest of its 5-mile length.  This summer saw rapid ground cover with many flowers and grasses, including fireweed, sun-flower relatives, grasses, and some shrubs.  Blackened dead spruce and fir and aspen trees will be in evidence for some time.  Heavy rains will wash friable black soils into the South Fork watershed for some years, but the healing has begun. 
Ozzie announced a hike on Wednesday at 9 a.m., apparently to get in the swing for next spring's schedule.  Because most of you and I learned of this only this afternoon, I'll be at the Visitor Center on Tuesday, just in case someone shows up for a pleasant short hike.
Dennis and Mary Shepherd will soon leave for a Kansas winter, so there will not be a hike on Thursday, as Dennis announced in a recent e-mail. 
--Doug Knudson
Wide, smooth spot on a skinny trail


One of many little water falls


Ground cover still green


The stream drops constantly, beautiful to see and to hear.


We were reunited at the 2.3 mile turn-around spot--all eight--Linda, Bonnie, Pat, Ozzie,  Marty, Eve,  Wayne


Look what a hot fire did to subalpine spruce


The creek keeps moving amidst stands of dead spruce and other plants--but look at the ground cover!


The mostly rocky segments require firm ankles and sharp eyes--not a walk in the park.  These folks (in their 60s to 80s)
have both, as well as the good sense to occasionally breathe deeply and to appreciate the scenery.


Our second car (Marty's) got into a quick-strike misunderstanding with a sizeable buck deer. He turned around, parked his
van at the Visitor Center and rode back up to the trail-head with Ozzie and Eve and Pat. They caught up with the other
half of our 8 at the lunch spot.  This was the first fauna fatality by hikers in a very long time (at least on a hike trip).

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