Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Smith Creek May 2001 - Part 3

Third installment in a short series.

Continuing to move upstream — more of the same.

Dry, crumbly ground, and the remains of the burned and blasted.

Getting near the end of the usable trail.

Remnants of the former logging road peter out about here. No telling what it's like in 2014 — I haven't been there for well over half a decade.

But there are some nice spots along the way. This is the grove that I chose for my group to camp in the following weekend. Shaded, watered, level, and clean. Can't ask for more than that. Oh — private too.

Crappy, severely cropped shot of a vulture or buzzard.

This is about the end of the hikeable trail. After a stream crossing there's a bit more on what amounted to an island, and then the trail returned on the other side of the valley.

Turning around, I got a look back downstream. The notch in the forest in the upper third of the photo, off toward the right side, held a magnificent waterfall. I'm sure it still does, but these days you may not be able to walk over to it due to undergrowth.

Edge of the streambed. Just chock full of colorful stones, endlessly.

Sand and slime.

Colorful, though.

Just two or three years earlier, most of the streams were crystal clear. Then suddenly they filled with algae. Probably the sign of an enriched ecosystem. In other words, a good sign for the area's recovery.

At that time, this was the point to cross Smith Creek and get onto the "island", located between two branches of the creek.

A nice jumble of various kinds of of geology — some fresh and sharp, some water-smoothed, with wildly mixed mineralogies.

This branch of the creek leads up to two canyons on the south side of the valley, both of which I had explored in previous years, while they were still open and not choked by alder groves and shrubbery.

Here the water was faster and still clear.

There must have been an abundance of iron in the water to stain the stones so boldly.

Yours truly. I still have the pants and the shirt, and gained a beard.

From a bit back downstream where the two branches of upper Smith Creek merge into a single thread.

Lupine. Always nice to see.

A few more sprigs of vegetation amid the colorful stones.

South side of the valley. Most of the original trees were knocked over, but a few snags remained, later to be surrounded by a continuous thicket of alder scrub.

And back again to Ape Canyon on the way out. I also explored this several times, and led a group up there the following weekend. Probably completely choked off several years ago, though it used to be pleasantly open, and hopping full of elk.

More to come in a bit — one more post.

All images are from my first digital camera, a 3 mega-pixel Kodak, long obsolete and discarded.