Friday, May 3, 2013

Twentymile Loop Hike

Catesby's Trillium

Twentymile Loop Hike

Dana Koogler solo

Total Hike Distance 7.6 miles

Thursday May 2, 2013

Pictures are here:

Bridge Crossings Twentymile Creek

   I had wanted to get out to exercise and hunt Spring wildflowers.  I'd had Twentymile on my mind. It had been a long time since I was down that way to hike.  I figured the creek would be really pretty today with all that water from rain we've had.  I also know this:  If a trail is good for one kind of orchid......... it is a good place to find other orchids!  I learned  if you hike a trail in a given season, and find it has orchids it would be wise to hike it again during a different growth season. You may find other types of orchids! I have found lily-leaf twayblade in this area in the Summer.  I gambled on it and turned out to be right!

     I woke early enough to go, but moving slow and feeling poorly.  I knew if I did not go I'd be sorry. I finally gave myself permission to not get such an early start, but just move slow and steady and go on even if it was at a snails pace. I managed to get out the door around 9:30 and drove down to Twentymile without any problems.  The traffic on the way there was not bad.   I had to drive from my house near Walland out to Foothills Parkway and down Highway 129.. the Tail of the Dragon to reach the trail head.
I always want a bumper sticker that says "Some of us LIVE HERE!" for this trip.
I use that dreadful road as an access from Point A to Point B. I grow weary of the crotch rocket riders. Today must have been a Mini Cooper Convention because I saw one after another after another..........At least they were courteous.

   I stopped on the way to photograph and visit two waterfalls on un-named side streams. They were really pretty.  I've never seen them have that much water on them to make them worth a stop before.   Pulling in the ranger station I saw two rangers and their vehicles and that was it!  Today was going to be a pretty day and I was glad I made myself get out to hike.   The creek was so pretty and the wildflowers so abundant I thought I'd be dark getting the hike done.  I kept stopping to photograph everything!



Trailside geraniums

Twentymile Creek is a significant stream.

Showy Orchis is the first type of native orchid I found today. 

   The stream flowed past with a roar.  The sky was clear and the sun shining. The breeze was cool and light.  The forest a bright green and the trails easy and smooth for the most part.   I did see evidence of past damage. I encountered a couple blown down trees , but nothing that interfered with my hike today.  I went up Twentymile Trail then continued on the Twentymile LOOP Trail.  I was having a great time.  I had all kinds of expectations of good things. I was seeing lots of gorgeous scenery and wildflowers. Vasey's trilliums beginning to bloom with their deep burgundy.  I saw purple wild geraniums, buttercups and trilliums of bright yellow, pink and white catesby's trilliums by the score.  I saw lots of different kinds of ferns today.  I saw wood ferns, cinnamon ferns, Christmas ferns, and lots of green moss.  

     I came to the first trail junction and turned and was fine.  I came to the second one and had to do a double take.  I finally sat down and compared the hiking guide and map to reality.  It took me a few minutes to adjust my thinking and even then I had some recalculating to do later!  I had it in my mind that I had hiked Twentymile Loop Trail before? Looking at the map and the description in the guidebook I began to doubt it.
I knew I was turned onto the right trail.  Yet the description of it was all wrong.
It hit me then.  I was doing it backwards of how it was described in the guidebook.  
I figured it was too late to worry about it and that ultimately it was not going to matter.
Knowing I was in the right trail I continued on my way.  

     I had read the guidebook description starting with the end and working backwards.
Theoretically it should be right. It seemed odd. According to the book I was starting out near the high point on the hike?  I went up and up and up to a gap.  The trail was not as I had imagined. It was a pretty trail but it was dry pine-oak forest and much of it was down through a holler just below the shoulder of the mountain ridges.   It was beautiful and this part of the hike was very intimate and quiet.  It lacks the roar of streams and instead you just see occasional side streams coming down off the ridge.   I got to the first gap. I went further and came to a second higher gap. The backwards description was coming out to be right.  My psychological gyroscopics  were righting themselves. 

     Once I got the description and the terrain lined up mentally I felt better about life.
It the occurred to me that if that was correct that I had already knocked out the hardest part of the hike first! The rest would be all down hill or level! Woo Hoo!!
I really felt good now and cruised.  The trail winds on and on for 2.9 miles beginning to end up over a couple mountain gaps, through a holler and comes out at the next trail junction.   I really like this trail and would do it again.  I did find yellow lady slippers today as I had suspected I would, but they were not in bloom.  I should have guessed. It has been a slow season due to the cold and wet. Yet they were healthy and thriving and will bloom this year.  I don't know that I'll hike all the way back there to see them and try to guess when they'll be peak.

      I liked the parts of this hike where the trail was small and winding.  I liked looking off at the valley below me.  At one point a spring branch flowed down and turned the entire bottom land to a seepage spring far below me.   I savored the last of the yellow trilliums of this year.  Trillium cuneatum bloomed here and there. Mostly past bloom, but some lingered on.    I saw lots of beautiful early meadow rue in peak bloom. This inconspicous little flower is a favorite of mine. 

Partial view from a mountain gap.

A pretty section of the trail

I saw lots of carpets of dwarf crested iris today.
Early Meadow Rue. It reminds me of a flappers outfit!

    I took my time and sat down and rested once to eat a small snack. I'd only had slimfast for breakfast.  It doesn't stay with you that long.  I made sure to drink plenty of water. I sat on a log that had fallen across the trail.  I opened a plastic bag of mango slices and dropped them all into my day pack.  At least they did not go on the ground.  I picked them up and ate them anyway.   No harm done.  I felt better after a brief rest so on I went.

      I was doing a pretty fair job of guessing where I was in relation to the end of this section of trail. I figured at the point where I snacked I was a little more than half way to the next intersection.   I planned to stop and eat lunch in the hemlock grove.
I didn't have to hike very far until I heard the roar of Twentymile Creek again. I wondered to myself if it would be bridged?  I sure hoped so.  I stopped once to filter water.
I was thrilled to see that Twentymile Creek was indeed bridged.  Hallelujah!
It was wide and pretty deep, but would have been passable even without the bridge.
It would have been one of those thigh deep wades today.

      I got to the hemlock grove and it was so pretty! Before me were lots of pink lady slipper orchids! My third type of orchid today.  I saw about forty plants.  Only about 1/2 of them were bloomed out.   Pink lady slippers are so nice!

Pink Lady Slippers

Cypripedium acaule

     I sat down and had lunch on a stump surrounded by pink lady slippers and beautiful forest.  Pink and white catesby trilliums were there in abundance also.  I always pack something sweet, something salty, something nutritious and protein, and something fresh.
I had eaten the fresh today.. the mango. I was fixing to eat the sammidge. I wanted something salty to go with it.  I got out a baggie of chips and was munching on them.
I stopped and inspected them.  " I do not recall packing Doritos today. I also found a baggie with 2 oreos. I sat there and ate one a piece of one.  "I don't remember packing these oreos either."  I did not recall packing them because I DID NOT pack them. They had been in there  for more than a week! Ugh.  The Doritos were good. The oreos were not.  It did not stop me from eating them knowing they'd been in there.  I am officially a crazy old lady.  I sat there laughing at myself.  I am glad I am not so fussy.

      I took pictures and picked up my lunch stuff and go ready to move on.
I guessed I only had half mile or so to the trail junction.  It would be some uphill getting there.   I heard a soft rustle of wings in the woods and looked up to see a hawk!  I was lucky enough to get his photo. I had also seen squirrels, chipmunks, turkeys, and lots of butterflies today.   No bears or snakes though. Bummer.  
Some type of hawk. I think he might be a redtail.

     I had not gone much past my hawk friend when I could see a trail junction ahead of me. It was uphill but just barely.   I didn't even break a sweat for that one.  I stopped and looked around at the trail intersection.  I had been here before. Today I completed a new trail for me! I can now add Twentymile Loop trail to the ones finished!  The trail changed now to the wide open, level, graded path like I began on.  It was all level or downhill from here.  I cruised.  I had only 3 miles to go to the jeep.  Easy breezy.  I did stop to take some photos on the way back, but not as many as when I began.  The creek here is a series of one cascade after another.  Many are very scenic and followed by deep pools.

The Twentymile Trail by comparison to the loop trail is more wide open in every way.

   The wildflowers on the way out were largely a repeat of things I'd seen. Still pretty, but I did not feel compelled to photograph all of them.  I did see wood betony and get a picture of that. Sweet shrub was in peak bloom today.  Violets, iris and foam flowers were the ones that scented the woods today at times. Very sweet smelling.
The air was fresh and clean and smelled good all the way.

   I finally came to the spur trail for Twentymile Cascades.. the biggest two falls on this stream.  I had visited here a couple times before. I've never seen this much water coming over the falls.   Some of the debris that used to choke the falls is now gone!

Upper Cascade on Twentymile Creek

Lower Drop of Twentymile Cascade. I think its the prettier of the two.

  I enjoyed the falls for awhile.  I continued on toward the parking area.   I got back at 3:30. It had taken me 4 1/2 hrs to hike 7.6 miles.   It was a very leisurely pace with plenty of time for checking things out and pictures.     I got back to the jeep and saw that there was only one other vehicle in the parking area besides me.  I never saw another soul besides those rangers when I pulled in.  Not another hiker all day.

     My quiet and tranquility was not to last. I had to face the afternoon drive back home on the Dragon.  I am used to driving on mountain roads and it doesn't bother me. What does bother me is the rudeness and risk taking of some of the other drivers.  I just tried not to let it get me distressed. I was very glad to finally make it back to the peace and quiet of Foothills Parkway and head to the house.  Glad to be rid of all the motorcycle noise and fast cars.

       The view from the parkway was worth a stop today as it often is.  
View from Foothills Parkway. I love where I live.

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